Description

Milagrosa Canyon, located at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains is fast becoming a popular winter sport climbing crag among locals. When it's cold up on Mt Lemmon, this place offers hard pulling in comfy temps. Climbs on both sides of the canyon might also offer a choice of sun or shade.

Occasionally referred to as "5.11 Heaven", Milagrosa is characterized by steep, hard sport routes is a nice desert canyon setting. A lack of easy routes means this place will quickly bore some beginner's, but for the moderate to hard leader, it's a goldmine.

Rock quality in this canyon is highly varied. Where it is good, it is very good. And where it is bad, don't even bother. Most routes are equipped with two bolt anchors and chains at top. As always, inspect these anchors before trusting your life to them.

Route development here is ongoing, though the most comprehensive guide is probably the recently published Tucson Select Sport Climbing guide.

Getting There

From town, head north on the Catalina Highway as if going up Mt Lemmon. Before the base of the mountain, turn right (east) onto Snyder Road. Follow Snyder east to Suzenu Rd. and turn left. Drive to the end of Suzenu, and park off the road near the large gate.

From the gate, hike east down a long, straight dirt road. After about ten minutes of hiking, pass through a chained gate and cross the bed of Molino Creek. Follow the road up a hill until you can see Agua Caliente Creek to the south.

To access Sunnyside, Main Wall, and Saguaro Corners, take the trail that heads down into the creek bed. After crossing Agua Caliente Creek you will hit a trail heading east up Agua Caliente Canyon. Don't follow it too far! If you do, you will be heading up the wrong canyon. After about 100 yards, the trail splits. Take the left fork back to the creek bed and into Milagrosa Canyon.

To access the Oasis, instead of heading down into Agua Caliente Creek, continue on the road which will take you past the turn off for the upper trail (now marked with a Pima County Parks and Rec sign). This upper trail follows the rim of Milagrosa Canyon and finally enters the canyon further upstream.

79 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at La Milagrosa Canyon

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 41
For the People
Sport
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c
 126
Valentine Arete
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 130
Community Service
Sport
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b
 49
Unnamed Mixed Route
Trad
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 56
Welcome to Milagrosa
Sport
5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 23
Sahuaro
Sport
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 42
Where the Buffalo Roam
Sport
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 84
Stealin
Sport
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 29
Massive Headwound Harry
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
 62
Four Play
Sport
5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a
 56
I Been Robbed
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 34
Solar Power
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 101
The Wizard
Sport
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 41
Ecstatic Electricity
Sport
5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b
 10
Blood Meridian
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
For the People Main Wall
 41
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Valentine Arete Main Wall
 126
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c Sport
Community Service Main Wall
 130
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Unnamed Mixed Route Main Wall
 49
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b Trad
Welcome to Milagrosa Main Wall
 56
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Sahuaro Sahuaro Corners
 23
5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Where the Buffalo Roam Main Wall
 42
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Stealin Main Wall
 84
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Massive Headwound Harry Main Wall
 29
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Four Play Main Wall
 62
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
I Been Robbed Main Wall
 56
5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
Solar Power Beach
 34
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
The Wizard Main Wall
 101
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Ecstatic Electricity Main Wall
 41
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Blood Meridian Beach
 10
5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b Sport
More Classic Climbs in La Milagrosa Canyon »

Weather Averages

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Prime Climbing Season
J F M A M J J A S O N D
J F M A M J J A S O N D
after a log day of climbing, there is also cliff diving into cool snow runoff Mar 31, 2004
Some of the ratings in here are getting a little sandbagged as the holds get polished, the opening moves on the usual 5.8+ warm-up (valentine's something) are starting to feel more like solid 10a..watch out for loose rock even on some of the established routes.. Nov 14, 2005
jbak .
tucson,az
jbak .   tucson,az
To characterize Milagrosa as "steep and hard" is misleading. I would say "vertical and fingery". Most of it anyway. Nov 19, 2007
lamina  
Is Chunky Monkey = #33 "Unnamed 5.11" on the topo? Dec 7, 2007
jbak .
tucson,az
jbak .   tucson,az
chunky monkey is #32...5.11 with 5.10 approach pitch.

That topo is missing quite a few routes...2 at the oasis alone.
No Beach...No Oasis part II...none of the up-canyon routes. Dec 8, 2007
I'll back up that one, jbak. Could definitely use a better topo. If you're into that sort of thing. If you can stomach the fun, just climb at Milagrosa and ask questions later. Mar 8, 2008
joshf
missoula, mt
joshf   missoula, mt
Jbak, do you think you could post the rest of the routes in the comments for the topo pic? I personally don't know them all but i don't want people to miss out if there is something stellar not noted. Apr 21, 2008
jbak .
tucson,az
jbak .   tucson,az
Oh, I could try I guess. Most of the stuff not on the topo is just one-star stuff (except for the Beach and Hydroponics). Apr 24, 2008
DDriscoll
Tucson, Arizona
DDriscoll   Tucson, Arizona
tucson select sport climbing guide here for miligrosa...
math.fullerton.edu/tmcmillen/ Apr 27, 2008
Jon Ruland
Tucson, AZ
Jon Ruland   Tucson, AZ
what type of rock is this? it seems like some kind of sandstone?? Jan 23, 2009
Braxtron
...
Braxtron   ...
GPS coordinates for parking lot: 32.298214, -110.730766
for Main Wall: 32.299766, -110.710216 Feb 10, 2009
1Eric Rhicard
Tucson
1Eric Rhicard   Tucson
This area has a lot of routes with sections that allow you to step a little one way or the other and change the grade a little. You will know it when you do it as it will generally cause you to ask yourself or your partner if you are on the route. No big deal climb have fun it's a great area. Apr 16, 2009
Hendrixson
Littleton, CO
Hendrixson   Littleton, CO
Below is a link to the guide I've developed. Comments and suggestions are welcome. Hope you enjoy it.

Milagrosa Guide 1.11 Jan 21, 2010 (1.87MB) Dec 11, 2009
Joe Kreidel
San Antonio, TX
Joe Kreidel   San Antonio, TX
Wow, looks great! Thanks for putting in the time to put that together.
Dec 11, 2009
eMurdock
Tucson, Arizona
eMurdock   Tucson, Arizona
Very nice topo! Here are some additions that might be helpful.
I thought Route 7 was rated about 10d by the FA.
Route 15 is better if you don't traverse left all the way to wide crack, but instead climb the thin finger crack on the right to the anchors on 14 (~10b).
I think Route 4 is harder than 5.6 but it might be the 5.9 corner further right.
Route 22 is 5.9 gear. Dec 12, 2009
Nice job on those topos!!! Dec 12, 2009
Christian
Casa do Cacete
Christian   Casa do Cacete
Nice work John! Dec 14, 2009
jbak .
tucson,az
jbak .   tucson,az
John, Blood Meridian was never called "Speak to Stone". Nice topos, looks like Vince's guide to The Dry.

Regarding "No War", where does the name "New Octobers" come from ? Scully ? Not Nate I'm sure. I'd be slow to upgrade it to 13d without
strong evidence from someone that climbs that grade often. Dec 14, 2009
Hendrixson
Littleton, CO
Hendrixson   Littleton, CO
Thanks for all the above input.

John, the names "New Octobers" and "Speak To Stone" come from Tyler McMillen's guide. Since you know the Beach as well as anyone I will remove the alternative names. I also downgraded "No War" to 13b/c. Dec 23, 2009
jbak .
tucson,az
jbak .   tucson,az
A (very) small bit of Beach history...Tyler bolted "No War" about the time of GWB's invasion of Iraq. The name was meant as a protest. Since I am a bit of a contrarian and a big fan of Cormac McCarthy, I thought I would slip a bit of the judge's campfire discussion into the name of the route next door:

[.........
The good book says that he that lives by the sword shall perish by the sword, said the black.

The judge smiled, his face shining with grease. What right man would have it any other way? he said.

The good book does indeed count war an evil, said Irving. Yet there's many a bloody tale of war inside it.

It makes no difference what men think of war, said the judge. War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting the ultimate practitioner. That is the way it was and will be. That way and not some other way.
...........]

But "Think of Stone" was a bit too vague, so I settled on the name of the book..."Blood Meridian" (2nd best book I've ever read I think).

Tyler was unable to red-point "No War" so he made it an open project and of course Nate stepped up and did it. So he re-named it "Just Cause" since, at the time, he supported the invasion. I couldn't believe he supported the war and his new name wrecked the effect (such as it was) of my name, so I talked him out of it. Since Nate doesn't really care much about route names (witness "Loose Stools" and "Nad Sacul" at the Dry !) he gave in. Eventually he reconsidered his support of the war too.

"New Octobers" may have something to do with a variation or a hold breaking or something. I don't know, so I was curious. I'm pretty darn sure it didn't come from Nate. Dec 23, 2009
Luke Bertelsen
Tucson, AZ
Luke Bertelsen   Tucson, AZ  
Agreed on Blood Meridian. This is my all time favorite novel. Hard to really put into words. I must read it again soon. McCarthy is amazing. Jan 1, 2010
Hendrixson
Littleton, CO
Hendrixson   Littleton, CO
The guide has been updated to reflect information graciously volunteered by Mike Argueso. Jan 11, 2010
jbak .
tucson,az
jbak .   tucson,az
John, I hate to nitpick your guide but there are some errors that should probably be corrected so no one's feelings are hurt and so that climbing fun can be maximized.

It is customary for the first name in the FA list of single-pitch routes to be the guy that did the first flash or red-point. So Todd McG should be listed first on Eclipse, Pipeline, Milanoma and Holeo, not me. Oddly, Todd asked me not to use his full name online. He was worried about identity theft or something. It doesn't make sense, but I acceded to his wish. And... some secondary FA names got left off that really shouldn't be. If you care, you can check the details on MP or on my website. (On the MP Milanoma description, "T1" = "Todd McG"...back then we had two Todds, McG and Gangelhoff, and it was easier to refer to one of them as "T1" and the other as "T2".)

The other "error" is the description of the Beach as having "all-day sun". If that were true, then it would almost always be too hot to climb there. And it is true in Nov, Dec and Jan. But owing to the overhanging nature of the cliff and the fact that it faces SSE instead of south, it actually gets shade starting about 2pm in mid-Feb and earlier in Mar, Apr and May. That may sound trivial, but it really expands the climbable hours just by knowing when to go. March and April afternoons are primo. The Dry is similar, later in winter and spring it's warmer, but there's more shade so it's better. It faces SSE also. Jan 11, 2010
Luis Cisneros
Tucson
Luis Cisneros   Tucson
Great work John!!! and thanks man! Jan 14, 2010
Hendrixson
Littleton, CO
Hendrixson   Littleton, CO
The guide has been updated to reflect John's suggestions. For some reason I always thought FAs were listed alphabetically. I also starred a few of the classics. Jan 21, 2010
jbak .
tucson,az
jbak .   tucson,az
John, I got a chuckle out of your "Thanks" section where you said you owed a great debt to Tyler...He lifted his Milagrosa descriptions basically word for word from my old (and now removed) web pages. I don't care, and am not looking for "credit". It was just funny how he did that without even asking me. That's life in the little inbred world of Tucson climbing.

John Baker Jan 22, 2010
Alexanderswiderski   Portland
Is Milagrosa open this summer in loud of all the fire danger closures? Any information would be appreciated. Thanks Jun 18, 2011
steve richert
Taunton MA
steve richert   Taunton MA
Hi everyone- I am going to be in the area around mid Feb as part of a project I am doing to raise awareness for type1 diabetes by climbing every day for 365 days and I would like a little beta on the area if someone would be able to drop me an email steve@livingvertical.org I would REALLY appreciate it!

It would just be my wife and I, nothing major or obtrusive--we just are looking for places to climb that will have favorable weather at this time of year and we are going to be in the area hosting an event at a gym in Flagstaff so it makes sense logistically for us.

Thanks!

Steve Richert Jan 29, 2012
Hendrixson
Littleton, CO
Hendrixson   Littleton, CO
The guide I put together is now available on boulderingtucson.com. Here is the link:

boulderingtucson.com/milagr… Feb 27, 2012
Christian
Casa do Cacete
Christian   Casa do Cacete
The rock is pretty soft there and a couple of years ago my climber pulled off a huge block on "Send It" that came out from behind a hold that had been pulled on for a decade. Watch your climber so you have time to react if something like that does happen. Feb 17, 2013
Baul Powron
Tucson, AZ
Baul Powron   Tucson, AZ
Where can I find information on the routes under the main east wall of the canyon? I've heard them referred to as the routes in agua caliente due to the fact that you belay in the wash. 1 pic seen here Thank you.
Jan 9, 2016
Andrew Megas-Russell   Tucson, AZ
New Routes! As of April 2016 there are two new easy/moderate routes added to the Main Wall. They are now the first routes encountered when approaching the Main Wall. Common Wealth 5.6 a slab pitch and For the People-5.8+ with some fun steep climbing at the top. Enjoy Apr 16, 2016
Charles Yang
Phoenix, AZ
Charles Yang   Phoenix, AZ
Does anyone have the PDF file of the guidebook saved? The website is no longer functioning with the file. Dec 14, 2016
Hendrixson
Littleton, CO
Hendrixson   Littleton, CO
Here is an updated link: La Milagrosa Canyon Guide. Dec 15, 2016
Evan Crumpecker
Colorado Springs
Evan Crumpecker   Colorado Springs
The directions posted on the main entry are pretty bad. You don't want to cross Agua Caliente creek at any point, there's an obvious path across the creek as soon as you get to it, but you really don't want to take it or you'll probably be wandering around lost for a while.

Once you hit the creek (the really big wash, not the first small one you cross), you'll see two canyons upstream. You're heading for the leftmost one. The easiest way up (for the Main Wall) is a path that goes up the middle ridge that splits the two canyons.

There are a couple well-cairned entry points for the middle ridge path. If you stick to the left side of the big wash, at some point there will be an obvious fork in the creekbed, one path goes up the left canyon, the other joins the wash that goes up the right side. Go to the right here, walking towards a big flat boulder. Almost immediately you should see some cairns and a nice trail on your left -- go up this trail. It gets a bit hard to follow at one point, once you get there head right and look for more cairns and the continuation of the trail.

You could also head directly up the left canyon, but you'll be doing some scrambling / boulder hopping, and isn't really recommended with kids or dogs. Taking the ridge trail is much easier. Dec 28, 2017