Heading east on Reddington Road, you hit a series of tight switchbacks just past the Upper Tanque Verde Falls trail head. There are no significant trails on this section of the road. To the south the terrain drops off steeply as you climb to the first pass, while to the north a gentle valley flows west onto private land. Beyond the ridge to the north are the remote eastern slopes of the Catalina Mountains. The Arizona Trail and several 4WD trails wind their way into the Catalinas beyond the ridge but these cross Reddington Road further to the east.
There are several parking pull outs and you may see the occasional car camper, but access to the favored recreation areas and exposure to the sun and weather limit use of this section of the pass. Most of the pull outs are littered with debris and broken glass despite the best efforts of volunteers.
The terrain levels out just before the 6 mile marker and the road enters a large bowl that marks the top of the western slope of the pass. Several drainages in this area have become unofficial shooting ranges. As you can imagine, these ranges are somewhat controversial. I’m not going to get drawn into the arguments in this post, but I will say that it is legal to shoot here and the Forest Service has so far resisted calls to end the practice. The Tucson Rod and Gun Club is trying to obtain permission and funds to build an official range in the area. If this is important to you then you may want to check out their site and sign the petition found at most of the local gun stores.
In the mean time, the greatest threat to shooting in Reddington Pass is the shooters themselves. I spoke with one of the rangers earlier this year. He made it clear that the Forest Service supports the ranges, but unsafe handling of firearms and the trash left by shooters could force them to prohibit the practice.
If you value your privilege to shoot in Reddington Pass please follow these guidelines:
- Never point a weapon towards the road (even if it is unloaded)
- Keep your finger off the trigger until the weapon is pointed downrange (I saw someone shoot through the bed of his truck. What an idiot.)
- Bring your own targets (paper, plastic, wood or metal only) and take them with you when you leave
- Never shoot over the terrain
- Do not shoot glass
Do not bring appliances, computers, tires or other trash. These are not acceptable targets and tend to get left behind
- Pick up your expended brass and shells
- Clean up some of the trash when you are done. Volunteers spent several days cleaning the ranges earlier this year and if they get junked up again the Forest Service may shut them down. I bring a rake, shovel, and trash bag when I go so I can clean up leftover brass.
- Use common sense and courtesy
This is a fantastic gunnery range and as long as shooters are responsible there is no reason we should lose our shooting privileges.
Just beyond the shooting area, the terrain drops off steeply to the south and the road descends into a wide expanse of rolling hills and washes. This is prime country for horses, mountain bikes, and off-road vehicles, and will be the subject of the next article in this series.
© 2009, The Desert Dog Journal. All rights reserved.
About the Author: Tucson, AZ Realtor & Investor. My true passions however are hiking and whisky (although generally not at the same time). If you have a question about any of these just drop me a line!