Still Here Enjoying Tucson

Tucson, AZ

We are still here in Tucson enjoying the warm (at times hot) days and cool nights. In between the completion of some basic maintenance items on the motorhome, we have been enjoying some hiking and socializing.

Dinner with Friends

We have followed the blog of Joe and Gay (Good Times Rollin) for some time and finally had the opportunity to meet them when they arrived in our park (KOA Lazydays) for an extended stay.  Steve and MonaLiza were still staying in the park so we took the opportunity to visit the Dragoon Brewing Company.  Look closely at the middle of the table in the photo below and you will see a cake with white icing.  It was MonaLiza’s birthday so a celebration was in order.

Gay, Joe, John, Steve, and MonaLiza


Hiking the Hugh Norris Trail

Hans and Lisa wrote about this loop hike (Metamorphosis Road) a few years ago and we decided to follow their route.  We parked along Hohokam Road in Saguaro National Park (west) and made our way to the Hugh Norris Trailhead.  The trail quickly gained elevation as it headed up into the Tucson Mountains.

The many, many, many, many (you get the idea) steps going up the trail take a toll on the legs.

Of course, as we climbed up, the sharp eyes of the nimble hiker spotted a crested arm on a saguaro near the trail.

We hiked up to a saddle between peaks at a spot where the Norris Trail crosses the Esperanza Trail.  We had been to this crossing point before on hikes up to nearby Wasson Peak.  On that hike we turned to the south on the Esperanza.  This time we turned to the north and made our way down to the Dobe Wash Trail for the return to the trailhead.

Hiking with Joe and Gay

One (late) morning we picked up Joe and Gay and headed to the Robles Pass section in nearby Tucson Mountain Park.  We parked on the north side of Ajo Highway, made our way under the road through a tunnel, and hiked a loop utilizing the Jericho, 36o Vista, and Ledge Surfer Trails.

A selfie after going through the tunnel under Ajo Highway

John, Joe, and Gay visit the Stone House along the trail

Brown Mountain Trail

Another day we repeated a hike we did a couple of years ago in Tucson Mountain Park.  The Brown Mountain Trail is a loop that begins across from the entrance to the Gilbert Ray Campground.  We hiked the loop in a counter-clockwise direction taking the trail along the base of Brown Mountain first, then returning on the section of the trail that goes along the top of the mountain (mountain is a bit generous. It is more of a series of hills).

On the return loop looking north at the Sonora Desert Museum

Looking south on the return loop

Tumacacori National Historical Park

We then took a day and drove south on I-19 for a visit to a Spanish mission.  Tumacácori National Historical Park is located about forty-five miles south of Tucson.  Mission San José de Tumacácori was constructed at this site on the west side of the Santa Cruz River in the mid 1700s.   By 1848 the mission was abandoned and began falling into severe disrepair.  In 1854 it became a part of the U.S. Arizona Territory after the Gadsden Purchase.  Restoration and stabilization efforts began in 1908 when the site was declared Tumacácori National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt.  In 1990 it became part of the new Tumacácori National Historical Park.

Entrance to the park

Photos of the mission before restoration

The mission today


Hiking in Madera Canyon

Madera Canyon is in the northwestern face of the Santa Rita Mountains, twenty-five miles southeast of Tucson.  As part of the Coronado National Forest, Madera Canyon has campsites, picnic areas, and miles of hiking trails.  After Steve and MonaLiza told us about hiking in the canyon, we decided to check it out.  They hiked the canyon a few weeks earlier and encountered quite a bit of snow, so we waited a bit before making our visit.

Heading up the trail

Gazing up at our destination – Josephine Saddle

Looking west to the valley

We hiked up the Super Trail and returned on the Old Baldy Trail.  The two trails meet at Josephine Saddle, where there is a very moving sign commemorating a tragic event that occurred here in 1958.

The Super Trail is primarily on the sunny side of the mountain so it was bare, but the Old Baldy Trail is in the shade for much of the time so we did encounter a bit of snow, but nothing like the snow encountered by Steve and MonaLiza a few weeks ago.

On the drive back to Tucson from Madera Canyon, we turned on to Sahuarita Road to check out two Crested Saguaros we read were along the road.   We found both of those, but as we drove along the road we spotted a huge crested saguaro through the trees.  This guy might be the largest we have ever seen!

We have one more week left in Tucson before we begin our slow migration north and east.  But there are a few more adventures to complete before we leave.

More on that later . . .

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38 Responses to Still Here Enjoying Tucson

  1. pmbweaver says:

    I see all those steps on Hugh Norris Trail. Looks like a bun burner for sure.

    Tumacacori NP was very nice. There was a lady making tacos outside when we were there. They were delicious and only a $1. Also, I bought to cornhusk angels made by the Indians in that area. They were so pretty. Of course I gave them away…hehe

    Madera Canyon is so different than the other hikes. Thank goodness we did not hit any snow when we did that trail. Brrrrr.

    Queen…you out did yourself with that last photo. Awesome!

    • placestheygo says:

      I actually started to count the steps, but after several hundred I gave up. There were well over 600. Madera Canyon was a nice change. No saguaro just live oaks and pines. It was nice to be at a high elevation with the temp being so hot down below. John actually gets all the credit for spotting that beautiful crested saguaro.

  2. montanaclarks says:

    Had never heard of the Boy Scout tragedy. I swear you guys find more crested saguaros! Out on the ATVs the other day I looked and looked–tomorrow we are going out again and in the area we are traveling I stand a better chance of finding some!

    • placestheygo says:

      Hope you are able to find some crested saguaro while out riding around. I know they are there because I found several in one location that Al wrote about in his blog. I have others Pinned to find when we come to visit in a few weeks.

  3. Larry says:

    The dessert just looks so different than our east Tennessee it’s hard to believe it’s the same country.

  4. Gay says:

    OMG…that last crested saguaro is absolutely amazing! Well worth the effort you made to photograph it. Joe and I have so enjoyed the time we have had getting to know you both and those awesome hikes.

  5. Mary says:

    We liked Tucson last year, and i would have liked to see more. That old mission was a favorite stop of ours too.

  6. rvrrat520 says:

    Wow, it seems you kids can’t go anywhere without running into a cresty or 2. We finally hit a cresty jackpot in Organ Pipe Cactus Nat’l Monument, . Safe traveling & happy trails.

  7. Sherry says:

    Looks like you’ve been enjoying a lot of hiking. Nicely done to include so many in one post. I think John has one of the best “selfie arms” around. Did they say why the Mission was abandoned only 100 years after its founding? It’s certainly been beautifully restored. Leave it to you to find a huge crested that isn’t even among those you read about. Well done. Very sad about the boys and the blizzard. Not knowing much about AZ, a blizzard there surprises me. I know it’s all about elevation but somehow snow and Arizona make a strange sounding combination.

    • placestheygo says:

      The mission was abandoned because of Indian raids, severe winter, and lose of population. It was located in a tough spot during volatile times. Madera Canyon is at quite a high elevation so snow is very likely if there is precipitation. We hiked to the saddle at 7,000 ft where the blizzard hit and the scouts were lost. It is strange to sit here in short sleeves and know that you can drive up into the mountains and ski.

  8. Jodee Gravel says:

    So a lot of steps then? Great you’ve gotten to spend time with Joe and Gay! Beautiful views from the trails. We are missing the green of the Arizona desert – this part of New Mexico is very dry and brown. That large crested is truly amazing, and I imagine could be the largest one ever seen! We head north tomorrow 🙂

    • placestheygo says:

      Haha! Yes, Jodee, you got the point…a lot of steps! Well over 600!! John deserves all the credit for finding that beautiful crested saguaro. He spotted it while drive and looking through thick trees!

  9. Jeff says:

    Another great hike and amazing photos of the cactus. I’ve seen lots of snow in AZ, Flagstaff has a ski resort, but a blizzard in Tucson? Tragic …

    • placestheygo says:

      They ski up in the mountains just north of Tucson, as well. They got several feet of snow back in January and had some great skiing. At 7,000 ft in the winter with a cold snap I can see a blizzard happening.

  10. That last crested was incredible. You sure do know how to find them!

  11. Love hearing about your time in Tuscon. We buzzed through it at the beginning of the month on our way to Charleston, SC. We are slowly making our way home. Hanging out in Florida, dodging tornadoes in Mobile and heading there on Friday. My feet are finally healed and we are doing a lot of small hikes. Hopefully meeting up with you all someday.

    • placestheygo says:

      Hope you weren’t coming through the south yesterday with all those storms! Good to hear you are out hitting the trails again:) One day our paths will lead us to the same area:) I always want to spell Tucson that way:)

  12. Oops, Tucson. Retired teachers, geez!

  13. I had my cake and ate it too 🙂 It was a pleasant birthday surprise!
    That last crested saguaro is huge and a real beauty by far I have seen.
    We just finished reading the book about the tragedy of the boy scouts. Steve offered to share the book so let me know if you are interested. The blizzard was really unreal at that time.
    Oh, so you took the reverse of our hike, and if we did that route we probably would have slid on our butt and off the trail then.

    • placestheygo says:

      Hang on to the book til we get to Moab, please:) I’d like to read it.

      We did the reverse of your hike because of the heat. It was going to be 92 down below, so we figured we would do the sunnier part first earlier in the day and then do the shadier Old Baldy in the afternoon when warmer. It sure was easier doing 1700′ in 3.8 miles:)

  14. Looks like lots of fun…you know, of course, that I am totally envious of your trail time!!! :-

  15. Jim and Barb says:

    Looks like some more great trails. That is one crazy cactus at the end of your post!

  16. Nancy says:

    I was wondering if you were still in AZ! Kept on looking for ya!
    That crested saguaro was H-U-G-E! You do find them…
    Great shots of some pretty neat hikes.

  17. Laurel says:

    You guys have been busy with all kinds of fun things! We always love the Brown Mountain Trail (yes, not exactly a mountain, but still beautiful). And as always, you’ve provided some new trails for us to explore. The Hugh Norris trail looks great — we’ll have to try that one next time we’re staying at Gilbert Ray. We hiked a bit of it together when we did Wasson Peak, didn’t we? Cannot believe that multi-armed crested saguaro!!

  18. geogypsy2u says:

    That has to be the biggest crested yet.

  19. Sheila says:

    Just love the photos of all you guys!!!

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