Access Issue: Access is via PRIVATE land and may be CLOSED! Details


Mendoza Canyon is a rugged area of granite domes with great climbing and adventure for backcountry climbers. BLM-administered, as part of the Coyote Domes Wilderness area. Routes vary in length from 2 to 8 pitches with most in the higher end of that range. A wide variety of difficulty can be found as well, from fun 5.6 to scary, runout 5.11. There are also aid routes for those wishing to carry more gear.

Some of the aproaches follow fairly well developed trails. Others still require bushwhacking and having your belay gloves handy during the hike might not be a bad idea.

The descent for many of the climbs involves rappelling the route. Most belay stations are more than half a rope length apart so bring 2 ropes. 50 meter lengths are standard for the area. Bolted rappel stations do not usually have chains and the low volume of climbers in the area means the slings are usually pretty old by the time the next climber gets to them. Be sure to bring enough webbing to get down safely. New route development is still active. A traditional style has been maintained and is greatly appreciated in the area.

Getting There

Updated 3-1-14

See Approach Map below in "Photos" section.

Take Ajo way west from Tucson to Three Points. Turn South on Hwy 286. Follow 286 for about 8 mi and turn West at the (KING'S ANVIL RANCH AT MP 37.6---NOT KING'S RANCH WHICH COMES FIRST). Follow a good dirt road through the ranch, stopping to sign in and get a permit (free), at the back gate. A State Land permit is officially required to pass thru the area. (… ) ( Continue west (0.8 MILES) through the wash, passing a very small turn off then taking the first, clear road to the right. It is common to miss this turn off. (edit: As of 12-30-15 this is signed as "designated access route") Follow this road west (FOR ~ 5.5 MILES), to a fence that marks the original access area (P-1 on the map below). As of 12-30-15 this access is signed as "No Trespassing" on the gate. Veer right and cut across the mouth of the entire valley, looking for the road that cuts back left near the north end of the valley. Follow this road back into the valley area until it ends a a gate. Use the hand-drawn map below.

A sometimes faint trail leads into the original road, then to the dam at the road's end. Follow trails to the domes from here.

See comments below for extended access availability.




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Classic Climbing Routes at Mendoza Canyon (aka Coyote Domes)

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mcarizona   Flag
Bring wood for your campfire. It can be cold at night. Feb 5, 2007
The dirt roads near the parking area are various and a bit confusing, so I add, here, where one should be shooting for.

The Mendoza Canyon "walls" form a huge C-shape, and when you head in from the Anvil Ranch you will be approaching the mouth of the 'C'. The parking lot area (the end of the "5.5 miles" mentioned in "Getting There") where you have to put on your packs and at the more-southern "tip of the C-shape". That is, it's where you finish the penstroke and lift your pen off the paper, if you were drawing a C on paper.

So don't get discouraged if you are getting closer to the domes and are on a seemingly errant dirt road headed straight-south and slowly away from the centre of the canyon. That's what happened to us, and, just about when i was giving up hope, that road turned sharply to the west and ended at the "very obvious rocks" which compose the end of the C. The gate was solidly padlocked shut when we were there two weeks ago, but the 2-mile walk in/out is 'no problema'. Dec 16, 2008
Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
Does anybody know for sure at what point in the spring the ranch denies access along the ranch road? Mar 10, 2009
Tucson, AZ
JMayhew   Tucson, AZ
It has been closed March 1 thru Sept. 1 for many years now. As far as I know that's still the case. Oct 20, 2009
Phoenix, AZ
Tradster   Phoenix, AZ
After driving out of the wash, the correct road to take is the second right turn after the second cattle guard coming out of the wash. A bush has some faded pink tape on it at the turn. A mountain bike will make short work of the road portion. The road itself is sandy, but a narrow single-track appears next to the road when the road becomes sandy. Beware of small mesquite branches littering the single track. Dec 2, 2009
Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
Access note: we ran into John King's daughter herding cows yesterday. She was very nice, and we talked to her for a little while. She believes that the missing traps that led to loss of access last year were a result of hikers (climbers? hunters?) whose dogs got caught in the traps, leading to the dog owners taking or destroying the traps to free their dogs.

Regardless of what exactly happened, she made it clear that dogs are not welcome. It sounds as though just heading out there with dogs, without more, could be enough to cause them to rethink access. So please, do not bring dogs to Mendoza! Dec 6, 2010
Is this area open? Mar 17, 2011
Andy Bennett
Tucson, AZ
Andy Bennett   Tucson, AZ
I have recently learned that the AZGFD is about to sign an agreement with the Anvil Ranch owners to provide for unfettered hiker/climber access into Coyote Domes from September-April every year. This is not a done deal, but sounds like it will be soon.

Regardless of what happens in this deal, we must continue to RESPECT all private property (which does includes part of the access road, gates, animals, traps, etc.) in this area, or we're going to loose access. Drive from point A-B, park at the turnaround, and go about your business. And DON'T BRING YOUR DOGS! Dec 7, 2011
Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
There used to be a note about the new access point on this page but it seems to have disappeared. The map that Jeff Mayhew posted up above shows it correctly. The directions posted about in the description are incorrect as the ranch owners do not want us to use the old access point. If one of the admins reads this, I would be happy to write up a new description to substitute in. In the meantime people should use the map that Jeff posted above. And, be aware that as you drive north (parallel to the canyon), the left turn that you are looking for (the final stretch to where you park) is much farther up than you expect. You may feel as though you've passed the mouth of the canyon and gone too far, but you haven't. Jan 4, 2012
steve richert
Taunton MA
steve richert   Taunton MA
Thanks for all the info here! I am thinking about a trip out here Mid Feb, but I was a little concerned after googling the ranch and reading about what seems to be a big problem they are having with illegal immigrant traffic in the area--I am not local to the southwest and I don't have much experience to draw on regarding this issue-usually, I keep a low profile and follow the golden rule-with good results. Is this something that I should be concerned about? Thanks!

Steve Jan 29, 2012
Tucson, AZ
JMayhew   Tucson, AZ
Steve, In 26 years I have never had a problem with encountering UDAs in the area. We have helped with trash cleanups on the ranch along some well-used routes out in the foothills strewn with packs, water bottles, and clothes. I have camped at the parking area and in various points in the canyon without ever seeing any UDAs. Several friends of mine have done the same without issues. I am not worried about my safety out there but try to remain vigilant. I also try to follow the same rules you do and it seems to be working pretty well so far!

p.s. The written approach info has been updated to reflect the new parking area. Jan 29, 2012
Jeff et al,

I live in the Sierrita Mtns and wake up every morning looking at Mendoza Canyon and Baboquivari and spend most of my time climbing in that 'hood. If there is ever anything the climbing community can do to assist with clean-ups, b-b-q's, consultations, etc, please spread the word. Access is a serious issue through the KAR, and if those conversations don't go well then we need to lean on the BLM for improved access. The newly approved federal budget appropriated $5.5 million to BLM to "improve access to public lands compromised by private land issues." Personally, I'd rather not have to drive through the MinuteMan Ranch every time I want to climb or hike. Mar 5, 2012
MJ Nelson
Tucson, AZ & Big Pine, CA
MJ Nelson   Tucson, AZ & Big Pine, CA
There is NEW access to the parking area and trail to Mendoza Canyon and the Coyote Domes. It's the OLD location. After signing in and getting your ranch pass near the King's house, follow signs that say DESIGNATED ACCESS ROUTE. This leads you to the corral. Park here, hop the fence, and follow the road to the domes in the distance. Oct 28, 2013
What is the status of access to the area now. It has always been my understanding that access to public lands had to be granted. . Feb 24, 2016
Tucson, AZ
JMayhew   Tucson, AZ
Hey LeRoy! As of 3-4-16 access info in the "getting there" section above as still accurate. In March and April you can reserve a trip in there thru the State Land Dept. They give you the combination for the gate and let you drive past the past original parking gate to just before the dam! No overnighters allowed though. (You probably can't make it all the way to "Trippin' Pig" or "Heinous Beer Run" !)

The link above to get the reservation doesn't seem to work and I am trying to get that fixed. Let me know if you (or anybody else reading this) want to head in there soon and I'll set it up for you.

Jeff Mar 4, 2016
Michael 89
Doylestown, PA
Michael 89   Doylestown, PA
I'm looking for beta on the drive in, do you need 4 wheel drive or high clearance to make it to the parking pullout?


EDIT: Thanks to an unnamed car rental service running out of midsize cars I had to drive a Mustang (terrible luck!). I made it in fine, though I would hesitate to do it in a sports car of my own. Dec 22, 2016
Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
Definitely don't need 4WD, but a bit of clearance is nice--nothing too crazy. Dec 23, 2016