The Box Canyon east of Florence is a super neat place. To get there take the road east right after you cross the railroad track on the north edge of Florence. The road starts out paved but turns to gravel and then dirt. It crossed the RR tracks a few times and follows the dry Gila River bed until you get past the diversion dam. Then it turns back north and soon enough you enter a canyon. The farther you drive in the narrower it gets. It takes a high clearance four wheel drive to go all the way through the canyon. This is actually just the beginning of several jeep trails you can take once through the canyon narrows. One goes through Martinez Canyon and eventually to the Coke Ovens on the bank of the Gila River. That trip is on my places to go list.
This is a popular spot and if you can I advise going to the box canyon on a weekday as the weekends get real busy and dusty. There are some side canyons that keep most of the wheeled traffic out that make nice hikes too. The best one I’ve found is the first big side canyon on the right just as you enter the narrow main canyon where the cliffs tower over you on both sides. ATVs can get up this side canyon only a little way and then the canyon chokes off everything but foot traffic. There are several boulders that need climbing as you get further up canyon. If you go far enough you will run into vehicle tracks again from ATVs that come in from the other end. This will take about an hour of hiking though so you can enjoy peace and quiet for quite a long stretch. Water runs through these canyons when it rains. If it really rains you can expect a flash flood through here. The side cliffs are covered with green and yellow lichens and the rocks appear to change color depending on the time of day and the sun’s angle. Some of the cliffs above have caves where boulders eroded out and left these holes. You get to scramble over these boulders in the bottom. I’ve hiked through here about a dozen times and every time I see something new. This time we saw javelina tracks. the main box canyon is pretty neat to drive through but these side canyons are just as much fun. So take a hike, its good for you.
We parked the green monster off to the side and hiked a couple hours. When we returned there were three green monsters parked there. These jeeps must breed like rabbits.
Will was here 2/18/14