At 7,730 feet Baboquivari Peak dominates the 2,065-acre Baboquivari Peak Wilderness area. It is one of the few major peaks in Arizona that requires technical climbing to reach its summit. It's located on Tohono O'odham Nation land about 1.5 hours southwest of Tucson.
The beautiful desert scenery located near the Mexican border supports a lot of different types of plant life. Vegetation in the higher country includes oak, walnut, and piqon; saguaro, paloverde, and chaparral grace the lower elevations.
The peak can be approached from either the east or the west. If you're heading to "Babo" from Tucson, the east side approach is a shorter drive (and a shorter hike), but it may require a high clearance vehicle. The west side approach is longer (both driving time and hiking time), but the road is easily passable for any car. Only the west side approach will be described here.
From Tucson, head west on Highway 86 past Kitt Peak to Sells. Turn south through Sells toward the settlement of Topowa. The ranger station on the left side of the highway marks the access road. You must purchase either a day pass ($10) or an overnight pass ($15). Turn left (east) here and follow a good dirt road for about 10 miles to a fork in the road. Take the right fork. Baboquivari camp is at the trailhead. It has water, tables, and shelters. The trail to the base of the mountain from the Camp is maintained fairly well and is pretty easy to follow.
Most routes begin from Lion's Ledge. It is much easier to get to Lion's Ledge from the west side than it is from the east side. From the west, follow the trail until it ends at the Great Ramp (see photo below). At this point, bushwhack east (right). Stay high and you will end up on Lion's Ledge. Follow Lions Ledge to the South Face climbs and the South East Arete. The hike from the parking lot to Lions Ledge is NOT short. Several thousand feet of elevation must be gained over sometimes rough terrain. Leave a few hours for the approach.
The east side of Baboquivari is on BLM-administered land. The west side is on the Tohono O'odham Reservation and is under tribal jurisdiction. On the west side, there is a $3 use fee for Baboquivari Camp. No climbing permits are required.
When to Climb
Babo can be climbed any time of year. Although, there is sometimes snow at the higher elevations during the winter, and the days are unbearably hot during the summer. The best time is spring or fall.
You can camp at Baboquvari Camp on the west side (near the trailhead). The fee is $3. There is water here, but it's pretty nasty stuff.
There are also many possible camping areas on the approach (if you feel like hauling all your camping gear half-way up the mountain).