A view of The Sanctuary from the approach ridge. S...
“The Sanctuary” is a seldom visited bouldering area on the north side of Safford (Sombrero) Peak in the Tucson Mountains, just within the border of Saguaro National Park West. Little info exists about the history of climbing in this area, but some signs do exist. Ray Ringle and George Smith explored the area some years ago, but the extent of previous development is unclear so any additional information would be appreciated. I have given names and grades to the problems but will gladly change them when the time comes. The problems in this area tend to be on the taller side with landings that are flat and open. Some problems are very clean while others may have portable holds. The rock is volcanic, similar in quality to the Silverbell boulders.
The boulder-strewn north-facing slope is framed by ragged cliffs and peaks above and a low ridge to the east that together form a large basin. This ridge also provides morning shade to the area. During the cooler months when the sun is lower in the sky, Safford Peak shades much of the hillside as well. These factors result in cooler temperatures that can persist relatively late into the day. Most of the problems are on east or north faces allowing for shaded afternoon bouldering. That said, the prime season here is October-March, with tolerable conditions occasionally found at other times of year, especially if clouds are present.
This is a prime example of the Arizona Upland bioregion of the Sonoran Desert. Regularly spaced with foothill palo verde trees and triangle-leaf bursage bushes; the occasional saguaro, barrel, and hedgehog cacti are also found. The excavating activities of the local javalina population are apparent under many boulders, as well as their trails which aid in hiking between problems. Some of the overhangs in the area show signs of their group latrine behavior as well.
White Stallion Ranch is the only set of buildings visible for miles. If only there weren’t huge quarry tailings disrupting the otherwise uncluttered view of far off Picacho Peak and the Silverbell Mountains.
From Tucson: I-10N, head west on Cortaro then north on Silverbell. Just about 2 miles down the road make a left at the QuickStop (Continental Reserve Loop.) Take the third street on the right (Pima Farms Rd) to it's end and make a left. Park at the horse trailer turnabout.
Continue on foot up the gravel road, which becomes a good trail, over the hill and down the other side. Eventually, make a right on the next trail that heads uphill toward Safford Peak. This trail will turn north to gain elevation before reaching another junction at the saddle. Do not go up from here (to Safford Pk.), instead continue north, straight down the trail. Soon it will come to a break in the ridge at which point it will be possible to head downhill (left) into the boulder-filled basin. 1.4mi/450'/45 min.
There is a Labyrinth within Sanctuary Cove that can be walked on the way back to make a nice finish to the day. From the ridge, head south on the main trail. A couple minutes after passing the wire fence that marks the park boundary, look for a trail heading straight downhill on the right. This will join with the next section of good trail which should be followed south (right). Enjoy the inspirational quotes along the way, stay right when the trail forks, and the Labyrinth will be on the right just before the trail ends in a large gravel area. The road you hiked in on is just a little further. Make a left and you'll be back to your vehicle in a few minutes.
Browse More Classics in The Sanctuary
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for The Sanctuary:
Featured Route For The Sanctuary
BETA PHOTO: The Sanctuary - Tucson Mts
1 Sanctuary Boulder
The view from the ridge with some boulders/problem...
BETA PHOTO: The approach. Park at the turnaround just before S...
Looking to the north down the last ridges of the T...
You can see the Silverbell-like rock quality as Ch...