The Santa Rita Mountains, located about 65 km (40 mi) southeast of Tucson, Arizona, extend 42 km (26 mi) from north to south, then trending southeast. They merge again southeastwards into the Patagonia Mountains, trending northwest by southeast. The highest point in the range, and the highest point in the Tucson area, is Mount Wrightson, with an elevation of 9,453 feet (2,881 m), The range contains Madera Canyon, one of the World's premier birding areas. The Smithsonian Institution's Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory is located on Mount Hopkins. The range is one of the Madrean sky islands.
The Santa Rita Mountains are mostly within the Coronado National Forest. Prior to 1908 they were the principal component of Santa Rita National Forest, which was combined with other small forest tracts to form Coronado. Much of the range is protected by the Mount Wrightson Wilderness. The Santa Rita Mountains were severely burned in July 2005 in the Florida Fire.