REVSION DATE: 2/22/2023
The Whetstone Mountains are a hang gliding site located East of Sonoita on the southern face of the range, and can be flown year-round. The Whetstones are a dry and rugged fault-block mountain range only about 15 miles long. The upper slopes support open oak-juniper woodland; the lower slopes are scrub-grasslands.
The only access to this mountain range is by a few unimproved four-wheel drive routes that reach some of the lower canyons. There are no roads reaching higher elevations. A single hiking trail into the heart of the mountain range is accessed from Kartchner Caverns State Park (a visit to the Caverns is worth it if you have the time).
- Current SAHGA (or AZHPA) and USHPA memberships.
- Local guide required for all pilots new to the site.
- H4 rating.
- CAUTION: Read all the general requirements and warnings here.
Know Before You Go
- Suitable for HG only.
- A local guide is necessary to access the launch.
- This is a flat-slope launch best flown in strong SW winds
- Requires a hike of 160’ vertical over 0.25 miles.
- The primary LZ is adjacent to a ravine.
- Shallow-slope launch, 360’ vertical above LZ.
- Season: Year-round
- Land ownership: Coronado National Forest.
- Driving directions: Contact a local guide.
- Very limited. No more than two vehicles at the LZ and no more than one vehicle at the trailhead.
- None at the LZ or launch. The nearest restrooms are in Sonoita.
- Elevation: 5,940’
- Coordinates: 31.768147, -110.458351 (Google Maps link)
- Orientation: SW
- Type: Shallow slope
- The hillside is somewhat rocky. Clearances are not a problem, but desert flora (century plants and cactus) may present a hazard in the event of a failed launch.
- HG Winds: 15-20 mph, max gust 5 mph over 5 seconds
- Wind direction: “Go” 230°-255°, “Caution" 220°-265°
- Setup area: Behind launch, to the North, no tie-downs
Designated Landing Zone
- Elevation: 5,580’
- Coordinates: 31.766913, -110.463522 (Google Maps link)
- Restricted LZ bordered by a ravine on the east. There are a few trees at the uphill, downwind side of the preferred landing area where vehicles are normally parked.
- The area is a little rocky, and the usual desert flora and fauna are present.
- The geographic attributes of the preferred landing area can produce turbulence during the hot part of the day.
- Controlled and restricted airspace to the South.
- High-desert site with excellent XC potential in all directions.
- Without sustaining lift, it is best to head directly to the LZ after launching.