Tucson Mountain Park and Saguaro National Park–hot but cool!

The southwest is prone to superlatives, and as we travel, we keep encountering grandiose descriptions of local splendors.  As for Tucson, its boast is about Tucson Mountain Park, “one of the largest natural resource areas owned and managed by a local government in the U.S.”  What we can say for sure is that we have loved a week in the midst of a lush desert, alive with blooming cactus and wildflowers, and it’s an awesome place to visit in the spring.

We are camped in Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson Mountain Park, just south of Saguaro National Park.  This is one of our favorite campgrounds, ever!  The sites are $20/night, and all of them come with perfect mountain views.  Hiking trails abound, and we were able to see some epic sights from paths that led directly out of the campground.  This is a campground filled with real campers, rather than partiers, and it’s dead quiet every night.  Thanks to Tucson’s dark sky zeal, we have great star viewing, too.

This show plays every night around 6:30.

Because of ample rain over the winter, the landscape is exploding in color as plants put out their best pollinator-attracting displays.

My favorite, Ocotillo

Hedgehog Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus

We’re a little too early to see the ephemeral saguaro flowers–just the hint of the buds are visible. When these babies finally open, they will only last for 24 hours.

First person to identify this flower wins a high-five!

The hiking options here are ridiculous, what with all the land covered by the combination of Tucson Mountain Park and Saguaro National Park.  In just 3 days of hiking this week, we racked up 18 miles on the trails, but we barely scratched the surface.  We were out pretty early each time to beat the heat, so we saw lots of animals, birds, snakes, and lizards.  We also chose routes that took us up into the mountains that afforded great views.

View from Gates Pass

Brown Mountain Trail

Petroglyph Trail in Saguaro National Park

Top of Wasson Peak, tallest mountain in Saguaro National Park (4687 feet)

JJ’s favorite part is when he gets to the highest point of the trail!

We also had some routine maintenance done on the RV this week, and as a testament to the powers off frequent upkeep, she didn’t need to have much done.  We got out of the shop under budget and in record time!  Besides that and a movie with our friend, Jen, we have just been soaking up the glories of this beautiful desert.   Speaking of soaking, we are experiencing more than abundant sunshine lately.  Most of Arizona is running about 15 degrees higher than normal, and it is starting to get downright hot here.

Ugh. On the upside, you only have to lay out for about 5 minutes per side if you want a tan!

We are attending a Carnival this evening to see Jen perform, and then we’re heading north.  Unfortunately, we have to stop in Phoenix for a few days for a medical appointment, and it’s even hotter there.  Hopefully, we will be headed towards the Sedona area by mid-week, where we will try to find a sweet temperature spot. Too far south and it will still be too hot; too far north and it will be too cold!  (Flagstaff is still experiencing low 30s at night!)  We call it the flip-flop barometer, and I know the perfect spot is out there somewhere!

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One thought on “Tucson Mountain Park and Saguaro National Park–hot but cool!

  1. Rayn, we were amazed at how cold it was in Flagstaff when we went through a couple of weeks ago. Sorry to hear about the medical appointment, hope everything is well.

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