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Official Review by Jason Bartel, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
When it opened its doors in 1964, Canyon del Oro High School was the only high school in the Oro Valley area until Ironwood Ridge came into existence in 2001. Canyon del Oro, or CDO as it is best-known, sits at the base of Pusch Ridge, giving it arguably the most scenic high school football experience in the state of Arizona and possibly the entire Southwest. Their nickname, the Dorados, comes from the Legend of El Dorado. Canyon del Oro is an actual canyon in the nearby Santa Catalina Mountains.
Currently serving about 1,600 students, CDO has earned a reputation as churning out MLB-quality baseball prospects throughout the years, but the football history isn’t too shabby either. They won back-to-back State Championships in 1976 and ’77, and then again took home the Arizona crown in 2009 behind a guy named Ka’Deem Carey. Carey led the Dorados that season when the Championship Game was played in Arizona Stadium. Carey would continue to find success in Arizona Stadium, going on to play for the Arizona Wildcats and becoming the school’s all-time rushing leader before being drafted by the Chicago Bears in 2013.
CDO football has fallen off a little bit since that 2009 season, but a Dorado football game is a must-visit for Arizona sports fans based purely on its location.
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For a high school venue, there is certainly a wide variety of concession items available at CDO games. The main concession stand is located on the home side (west side).
You can get hot dogs, nachos, sodas, candy, popcorn, peanuts, and even some grilled items as well, and all for not very much money. Most of the items cost less than $5. Behind the south end zone, there is a Sonoran Hot Dog cart set up where you can get your Tucson fix and get a hand-made Sonoran Dog.
If you're looking for the true Tucson experience, the Sonoran Dog is definitely the food you'll want to get during a Dorados game. It's a little more expensive, but totally worth it.
If you're coming to CDO as a fan of the visiting team, you'll still want to take a second and check out the view from the home side before the sun goes down. You will not be disappointed by the view of the mountains that tower over the high school. It makes the school truly live up to its name of the Canyon of Gold.
The stadium itself is a very typical high school setup. High metal bleachers on the home side, with low metal bleachers on the away side. CDO is unique in just how high up their stands sit from the field. It gives everyone a great view of the game, and also allows the cheerleaders to do their thing without blocking anyone's view of the actual football. You can also stand along the fence that surrounds the field.
The one scoreboard sits in the north end zone. You can hear the CDO marching band playing throughout the game, and providing a great musical backdrop to the football. In general though, there's not a big buzz around CDO games in recent times compared to the past.
You'll want to at least check out the view from the home side. It won't matter where you sit, but you'll probably want some sort of cushion to sit on rather than the metal bleachers.
Oro Valley schools like CDO have to deal with the unfortunate reality of everything being extremely spread out. There is basically nothing in the immediate area of the school, but if you go farther north on Oracle, you'll run into the Oro Valley Retail Center, which has stuff like Rubio's, Pizza Hut, and things like that. Just past that is Chili's, and then further north, is Oro Valley Marketplace, which has a movie theater, a couple of restaurants like Olive Garden and The Keg, and shopping.
In the other direction is Foothills Mall which features a couple of good bars and restaurants, including Fox & Hound and Thunder Canyon Brewery.
Oro Valley offers plenty of places to tee it up if you're planning on spending more than just the day in the area. There are three major golf courses surrounding the CDO area, so you'll be able to find plenty of options just by driving around.
The closest hotel is the Fairfield Inn & Suites which is just about a mile north on Oracle from the high school. There's also the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador for a more resort-type option.
The Dorados get a pretty good amount of fans at all their home games, despite the relative struggles in recent times. The students show up in big numbers, and keep the noise level up throughout the game.
There's nothing that stands out about the CDO fans, but they have a strong presence no matter what the score is.
CDO is located about seven miles north of Tucson along Oracle Rd., or Highway 77. It's not really a highway until it gets farther north and is loaded with stoplights when heading north from Tucson. The high school is essentially at the corner of Oracle and Calle Concordia, which is a small road that you shouldn't take for longer than you have to off of Oracle.
There is one main parking lot near the football stadium that fills up very quickly. This may force you to park on the west side of the school, and have to walk past the baseball and softball fields to get to the football stadium. Parking is free, but like I said, it's limited.
There are a few entrance gates, two on the home side,and one on the visitor side. All of them are located on the south end of the football stadium. It's easy to get in, but it's much more difficult getting out after the game is over. It's also difficult to get out of the parking lots after games because of the size of Calle Concordia.
There are bathrooms located near each end zone. The handicap access for CDO games is a bit iffy, especially with how high the home stands are. The access overall for CDO just is not very good.
It's pretty cheap to go to Dorado football games, but there aren't a ton of accommodations for fans either.
But it is also nice that the food is cheap, the parking is free, and the football is typically decent. Again, the main reason to visit CDO for games is to check out the view around the campus.
Pusch Ridge looming over you is the lone extra for Canyon del Oro. It can be breathtaking with the sun hitting it just right. The rest of the experience is fairly average for a high school game, but it is high school, so there's nothing wrong with that.
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7625 N. LaCholla Boulevard
Tucson, AZ 85741
7401 N La Cholla Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85741
10150 North Oracle
Oro Valley, AZ 85737