Madera Canyon is located in the Santa Rita Mountains, which is one of the largest of the Madrean Sky Islands. It's a 1.5 hour drive from Tucson. There is a Forest Service campground in the canyon. The canyon and its immediate surroundings are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, ranging from cactus covered desert in the lower reaches of the canyon to aspen and pine forest on Mount Wrightson.
With fifteen species of hummingbirds, elegant trogon, sulphur-bellied flycatcher, black-capped gnatcatcher, flame-colored tanager, thirty-six species of wood warblers, and over 256 species of birds documented in total, Madera Canyon is rated the third best birding destination in the United States. Other animals that can be found in Madera Canyon include black bear, mountain lion, bobcats, white-tailed and mule deer, foxes, coatis, ring-tailed cats, raccoons, wild turkeys, squirrels, and rabbits. Sixteen species of bats have also been recorded in the canyon.