Enjoying Tucson

Tucson, AZ

January 31 we left Borrego Springs, CA and headed east on I-8.  After an overnight stop in a dusty old RV park in the little crossroads town of Dateland, AZ, we arrived in Tucson and quickly set up in our new home in Lazydays KOA.

Smoke from a brush fire along I-10 near Coolidge, AZ

Our home for February

We have stayed here many times as we really enjoy the Tucson area.  It has great weather (for the winter), plenty of  hikes in the numerous mountain ranges nearby, and good stores and restaurants.  The day after our arrival we headed a few miles to the west to do a short four mile hike in the Robles Pass area of Tucson Mountain Park.  We’ve hiked the Flight Path Trail section of the park a few times during previous visits and knew it was a good place to stretch our legs a bit.  Plus the nimble hiker was anxious to get back among the numerous saguaros along this trail.

Back in Cactus Country!

Crested saguaro with some problems

Dave and Sue (Beluga’s Excellent Adventure) arrived in the park the day after we did and Steve and Mona Liza (Lowes RV Adventures) came in a couple of days later.  The group met up at Mariscos Chihuahua Restaurant, a few miles west of the park, to share recent travels and recognize MonaLiza’s recent “39th” birthday.

John, Dave, Steve, MonaLiza, Sue, and Pam

With Dave and Sue nearby we are still treated with visits from Lewis, who loves to chase a ball around the inside of our motorhome.

Ah ha, I found it!

Days later, with temperatures in Tucson climbing into the 80s, we decided to go up into the Catalina Mountains to do some hiking in the cooler temperatures.  The nimble hiker did some research and found the perfect hike to the top of Mt. Bigelow.   To get to the trail we drove up the scenic Catalina Highway into the Catalina Mountains.

The road winds its way up through the mountains from Tucson (2,500′) to Mt. Lemmon (8,800′).  Every visitor to Tucson needs to take this beautiful drive (27 miles) while in the area.

Just past mile marker 17 we parked in the San Pedro Vista lot and found the trailhead at the north end of the parking area.

Looking north to the trailhead

Entrance to the trail (taken on our return)

Immediately upon leaving the parking area the trail began to climb steeply up into the rocks.

After about a mile our destination came into view in the distance.  Mt. Bigelow (8,552′) is easily identified by the many communication towers located on the peak.

Mt. Bigelow in the distance

As we hiked up the trail we enjoyed some beautiful views to the north.

At times the trail ran easily through the trees, while at other times (most of the time) it went sharply up through the rocks.

The nimble hiker climbs steadily up the trail

A great view to the north

Getting closer . . .

. . . and closer

But still climbing!

We finally made it to the top, where we enjoyed lunch with a view while looking down on Tucson far below us.

Lunch with a view (including power cables and sunbeams!)

From our perch on top of the mountain, we could see most of metropolitan Tucson, including Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.  With binoculars we could easily see the aircraft boneyard located on the base.  The facility takes care of nearly 4,000 aircraft, which makes it the largest aircraft storage and preservation facility in the world.

As we returned back down the trail we could see a climber on a rock formation called the Ridgeline.  Can you see him in the photo below?

How about now?

Bet you can see him now!

After hiking almost six miles at 8,000′ with an elevation change of about 1,500′ we felt that we deserved a treat.  So we made our way back down the Catalina Highway and into Tucson where we found one of those chain coffee houses out of Seattle.  Sitting in front of the store enjoying a refreshing drink we could see Mt. Bigelow in the distance.  It’s just to the right of the light pole in the photo below.

A little “zoom” on the camera helps bring it into view.

We’ll be in Tucson until the end of the month so we’re sure to have more adventures to share in future posts.  More on that later . . .

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23 Responses to Enjoying Tucson

  1. georgeyates says:

    Enjoy your time there, thanks for hike Mt lemon and great pictures.

  2. pmbweaver says:

    We never climbed Mt. Bigelow, and I am sure never will. Beautiful views.
    Another thing we will never do is be a climber. No thank you.
    Y’all have a great time with wonderful friends. We love Tucson!

  3. I always learn something new about Tucson when you guys are there! Mike has been up Mt. Lemmon on the motorcycle a couple times, me–never–going to have to remedy that!

  4. Mary says:

    That looks like a nice hike, up into the trees is always good. I’ve always liked the area around Tucson, the saguaro national park is pretty.

  5. Ingrid says:

    Pretty country and good looking group of RVers!

  6. rmacwheeler says:

    ohhhhhhh this old Texan misses mountains

  7. Ooooh, I’d like the Mt Bigelow hike! It’s great you had a place to escape the heat.

  8. Jim and Barb says:

    Not much better than getting to a trailhead and seeing an empty parking lot and having the trail all to yourself! Looks like a great hike!

  9. Susan Bank says:

    Loved the “zoom” pictures of the grid of planes….thanks for taking that hike to give us the perspective! It’s nice to be back in the land of the Saguaro, but the time seems to be flying!

  10. Nancy says:

    Nice seeing ALL your friends gathered together!

    Your hikes are fabulous to see! Thanks for sharing!

    And as always… I love lunch with a view!

  11. Laurel says:

    I know that dinner was fun….wish we could have joined you! Great idea to head up the mountain to escape the heat. This has been such a strange winter, either too hot or too cold just about everywhere. I can’t believe that in the dozen times we’ve been to Tucson that we’ve never driven up Mt. Lemmon. Next time! You had some spectacular views on that hike.

  12. Thank you, I felt so good turning 39! Now this hike is something new and must be explored sometime in the near future. That was a great zoom up photo of the airplanes at DMAB, which I have never been to.

  13. Sherry says:

    Love these gatherings of friends. That’s a clever way to make sure you have good neighbors. We’re having the too much heat problem with no mountains to escape to. Looking forward to more hikes and more cresteds.

  14. Anne Barnhorst says:

    Arizona has great hiking! I lived in Phoenix for a summer and had so much fun exploring. I was only in Tuscon once, to visit Saguaro National Park.

  15. 2brew says:

    Glad to see you’ve escaped the cold temps. Enjoyed the post, we’re planning our first trip to the area this year. Looking forward to it!

  16. geogypsy2u says:

    Love that curved cristate. That’s quite the climb yet both top and bottom you got some great views.

  17. Steve & Dianne Colibaba says:

    Love the drive and views on Mt. Lemmon, but have never hiked the area. Great photos!

  18. LuAnn says:

    I can’t think of a better place to enjoy the winter, along with special friends. We love exploring the Catalina Mountains. Enjoy your February!

  19. Cecilia says:

    Your photos are just pulling me in and I want now to see everything myself. Thank you and greetings.

  20. Gay says:

    February is off to a great start! Nice hike to Mt. Bigelow. See you Soon!

  21. Jodee Gravel says:

    That crested is definitely looking sad! Looks like there was a good temp drop on Mt Bigelow – a smart trail on a warm day. I don’t know what’s more interesting – the number of planes or that they look to be in perfect straight lines 🙂 Great view across the valley. I can’t imagine climbing that cliff face all alone. Maybe there was another climber down below.

    See you in a couple days :-)))

  22. I enjoyed your post, great pictures.

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