The next leg of our spring break adventure took us to Tuscon, Arizona. The drive was more interesting than we expected. First, the road from Holbrook to Tuscon takes you through some lovely mountains, filled with pine trees and colorful canyons. Then you start to emerge into more of the desert, with Saguaro cacti lining the road. There is no doubt you are in Arizona at that point.
When we arrived on Tuesday afternoon, we decided to head straight for Saguaro National Park to get the lay of the land and take a couple of quick hikes. Saguaro is split into western (Tuscon Mountain District) and eastern (Rincon Mountain District) sections. We’re staying on the northwest side of town, so we started with the Tuscon Mountain District.
For our first hike, we did a loop around the Gould Mine/King’s Canyon. This is about a 2.5 mile loop around the rim of a canyon, absolutely filled with Saguaro. We were all astounded by the unique beauty of the place, and decided to add one more hike. We headed north of the visitor center to the Wild Dog / Valley View trail. As we hiked along Wild Dog, the sun was starting to set, so we hurried back to the Valley View overlook for sunset. What a show! This is the quintessential spot to catch a desert sunset.
Wednesday we drove to the east side of town to check out the Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro. This area feels smaller, since the trails are somewhat more tightly packed, with a large wilderness section of the park. We just had time to cruise the scenic loop and do one small hike around the Freeman Homestead before leaving the park for the day.
We made the 90 minute drive southeast of town to the notorious wild west town of Tombstone. This is definitely back in tourist trap territory, with the entire downtown area still decked out in the late 19th century style. Several times a day, a group reenacts the “shootout at the OK Corral”, with live actors playing the parts of the Earps and the Clantons. It’s an entertaining, if somewhat dubious show.
Thursday it was back to the national park to explore a few more of the trails. We decided we preferred the western part of the park for its more varied terrain and somewhat thicker vegetation. After a mid-afternoon break at the hotel pool (yes, it was cold, but the boys wanted to go for it), we went back to the “Valley View” location to catch another sunset. This time, paired with a moon rise of the nearly full moon immediately following sunset!
We’re now back home safe and sound. Once again, it’s difficult to believe that an entire week has gone by. Here’s to anxiously awaiting the next adventure!