Catalina Mountains and State Park, Tucson
I spend many hours at work behind closed doors, working on computers for each hour I'm there. The temperature in my work environment is centrally controlled at 75 degrees which for me is COLD, considering 85 degrees is my comfort zone. 75 degrees for 8-10 hours a day is a little much and I would rather spend my days off work outside my apartment or any building for that matter. This weekend I decided I wanted to visit three places I have planned so long to visit but the plans remained only in my mind.
The Tucson Mountain Park was designated a Park in the year 1928. At almost 20,000 acres Tucson Mountain Park is the largest natural resource area owned and managed by a local government in the United States. The park has almost 62 miles of non-motorized shared-use trials and the park's trails are open to hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers, and provide a wide range of outstanding experiences, including technical challenges, and breathtaking views. Gates Pass overlook includes interpretive displays and historic structures. Picnicking and wildlife viewing opportunities are located throughout the park. Dogs are not permitted in Tucson Mountain Park. Found within Tucson Mountain Park are attractions including Old Tucson Studios, Sonora Desert Museum, and the Sonora Anthropod Studies Institute?
We drove through the park headed to Old Tucson Studies located within the Park not too far from the Sonora Desert Museum, the views were indeed breathtaking and the winding roads adding awe to the experience. Along the way we found hikers, bikers and quite a few cars also headed to Old Tucson Studios and the Sonora Desert museum. The weather was perfect with white clouds in the sky, temperature below 90 degrees which I must say is great for Tucson given the three digit temps we have had all summer. We made a few stops on the way to take photos of the scenery and the cacti that dominate this park.
Adjacent to Saguaro National Park on Tucson's west side is 20,000 acre Tucson Mountain Park, named after its centerpiece, Tucson Mountain. This area is famous for its hiking, biking, camping, horseback riding, and picnicking among the giant saguaro cactus. There are also facilities for rifle and archery shooting (with nominal daily fees), public restrooms, and a visitors center.
Within Tuscon Mountain Park, you will also find the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Old Tucson Studios, and the Sonoran Arthropod Studies Institute (SASI). The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum contains a zoo, botanical garden, and natural history museum along with its Center for Sonoran Desert Studies research and education arm ($9 a person). Old Tucson Studios is a popular filming location for Western movies, but it is also a tourist attraction with Old West restaurants, shows, shopping and more ($17 a person!). Finally, the Sonoran Arthropod Studies Institute studies the role of arthropods (or bugs) on the desert environment (open to the public during their Community Days, held on the 4th Saturday of each month except December).
This park shares a border with Saguaro National Monument.
Park hours are 7am to 10pm.
This scenic desert park offers camping, hiking, picnicking, bicycling, horseback riding, plant and wildlife viewing, and an archaeological site, all just a few minutes from Tucson. Catalina State Park is located within Coronado National Forest, and is managed by Arizona State Parks in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service. The park encompasses 5,493 acres at elevations near 3,000 feet. Catalina State Park has several hiking trails. I took: The Romero Ruin Interpretive Trail which is a 3/4 mile trail through the ruins of a prehistoric Hohokam village site that is over a thousand years old, the Canyon Loop Trail a 2.3 mile loop trail showing the various habitat types found in the park, the 1 mile Birding Trail, and the mile long Nature Trail which is an Interpretive Trail. Other trails include: The Romero Canyon Trail at 7.2 miles, the Sutherland Trail 10.5 miles, and the 50-Year Trail at 7.8 miles. For more info and pictures see my Catalina State Park Page.
A nice area to visit if you want to see some beautiful cacti and if you are lucky (we got enough rain) pretty waterfalls and wildlife.
Sabino Canyon is a natural desert oasis located in Tucson’s Coronado National Forest.
Great photo opportunities for saguaro cacti, palo verde trees, cholla and prickly pear cactus, and ocotillo. And the skies are oh so blue here!
We took a canyon tram tour with is aprox 45-minute, 3.8 mile tour into the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The trams have nine stops along the tour Trams arrive on average every 30 minutes.
If you would like to you can hike or bike a variety of trails here. We just were not inclined to in August with two small kids. Either way it is pretty here. And if you are visiting Tucson, worth the stop.
The Santa Catalina Mountains provide a spectacular view over the city of Tucson from the north. These desert mountains are part of Coronado National Forest which covers 1.8 million acres across southern Arizona. Mount Lemmon is the highest peak in these mountains at 9,157 feet, it averages an impressive 180 inches of snow each year, and it is the US's southernmost ski mountain.
@L[http://www.pr.state.az.us/Parks/parkhtml/catalina.html]Catalina State Park is located on the western slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains and features miles of hiking trails, horseback riding trails, and camping areas. The park contains 5,000 acres at an average elevation over 3,000 feet, and is surrounded by the Coronado National Forest.
Spent a day up in the Catalinas to birdwatch and escape the heat of day. There are numerous hiking paths you can use and there are picnic areas also. The rugged beauty of the area is breathtaking. You get a great look at the transition from one zone to the next, as desert gradually gives way to pine forest. Much of the area is a State Park and is incorporated into the Coronado National Forest
The Santa Catalina Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest offers a vast network of inter-connected trails which can take you from the valley floor at 3,000' to the Catalina's peaks at 9,000'. You may not want to go that far though, so you can always drive into the mountains to one of the many trailheads just off of the main road. Check the forest service or Sierra Club web sites for lots of info on these trails. These are great in the summer when it's usually too hot to hike in the valley.
You drive through Tucson Mountain Park on the way to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. You can stop at a couple of viewpoints to have a close up look at the desert. Saguaros - the cacti I only knew from watching Wiley Coyote chase the Roadrunner - only grow in the Sonoran desert. You get to see the difference in how cacti grow on both sides of the mountain valley.
Also at the main viewpoint (besides washrooms, etc.), there is a short trail to climb to a structure up the hill
Tucson Mountain Park also has campgrounds at the Gilbert Ray Campground.
Located 10 miles north of Tucson at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Catalina State Park is the perfect location to camp out in the desert wilderness, go horseback riding, or simply enjoy a hike through the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. There are dozens of trails in this 5,493 acre park, and whether you come to spot rare wildlife or tackle the rugged mountain paths, Catalina St. Park offers something for everyone. The Birding and Nature trails are popular among visitors who want to see a variety of birds, Snakes, and lizards, while others set out on treks to see the site of an ancient Hohokam village near the Romero Ruin trail.
Whatever your abilities or interests are, there is always something to do. To experience the wild beauty of the Sonoran Desert and the Catalina mountains is a Must See in Tucson.
Tucson is a hiker’s paradise in the cooler months, providing miles of excellent trails along the rocky ridges of the Santa Rita, Santa Catalina, Rincon, and Tucson mountain ranges that encircle the city. Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, Saguaro National Park, and Catalina State Park are fantastic starting points for mountain treks, where Tucsonans and visitors alike can enjoy spectacular mountain settings.