The Ultimate Guide to Canoa Ranch Conservation Park with Kids

Canoa Ranch Conservation Park - View of the manmade lake and wildflowers

Raúl M. Grijalva Canoa Ranch Conservation Park is an excellent hiking location for kids. The park comprised 4,800 acres of traditional Sonoran desert about 30 miles south of Tucson. In addition to hiking, it is also home to Canoa Ranch which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Why should you visit Canoa Ranch Park with your kids?

It is easy! Much of the hiking around Tucson involves driving deep into canyons to access steep hiking trail. Canoa Ranch Conservation Park is located right off of Interstate 19 only 30 miles south of Tucson. The hikes are all flat and the paths are wide, perfect for toddlers and young families. Wildlife is abundant and you are likely to see migrating birds, including ducks of many kinds, songbirds, and lizards. You can also tour the beautiful historic ranch on.

What do you need to know before visiting?

Canoa Ranch Conservation Park - View of the scrub brush and rattlesnake sign

The following areas of the park are technically open form dawn to dusk, seven days per week and are never closed on holidays.

  • Canoa Lake
  • The Cienega
  • The pollinator garden
  • Access to the Anza Trail

The historic Canoe Ranch compound and buildings are open Tuesday through Saturday from 8AM to 3PM. Tours are available every Saturday in May from 9:00-10:30 a.m. and every Saturday in June from 8:30-10:00AM.  Tours cost $5 and must be purchased online.

Parking is free and located right next to Canoa Lake and the historic Canoa Ranch. Current hours of operation can be found on Pima County’s website.

What should you do when you get to Canoa Park?

Our favorite activity is to hike around Canoa Lake and The Cienega. Canoa lake is a small man-made reservoir that is the temporary home to many migrating birds, especially in the spring and fall. It is a short, easy hike and is stroller friendly. Many of the native plants are flagged with informational signs that are fun to read. Kids will love playing near the water and searching for animals (even lizards). You can also watch the pollinator garden for hummingbirds!

Adjoined to Canoa Lake is The Cienega, which in Spanish is the traditional wetland system native to the Sonoran desert area. This wetland was reintroduced after Canoa Lake was built. It is a fun opportunity to see what a traditional flowage would look like given many in the area have succumbed to development. There are some great, short, and stroller friendly hikes through the Cienega.

If you want a longer hike you can hop on the Juan Bautista de Anza trail, which stretches 1,200 miles from Nogales, Mexico to the San Francisco Bay are! You probably won’t want to hike that far, but at least you know there is plenty hiking available at Canoa Ranch Conservation Park for you and your kids!

Final thoughts on visiting Canoa Ranch Conservation Park with kids

Canoa Ranch Conservation Park - Beautiful native flowers overlooking the man-made resevoir

Canoa Ranch Conservation Park is an easy day trip from Tucson, or even easier if you are staying in Green Valley. The hiking is all accessible, safe, and flat, so perfect for kids and grandparents alike!

Please note though that the park is out in the desert. There is limited shaded opportunities outside the Ramadas that area available for rent. As a result, we would not recommend hiking here in the summer. You are better heading over to Madera Canyon during those sweltering months!

Other Hiking Options in Tucson

Looking for other options for hiking with kids in Tucson? Here are some of our favorites!


The Quill Family

We are the Quills! An ordinary family sharing our extraordinary travel experiences. 


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