Visiting Friends and Hiking Ventana Canyon – Tucson

Tucson, AZ

The weather was very good at the beginning of this past week so we took advantage of it to get out and about.  One day we road our bikes north into the city for a ride through the University of Arizona.  We had to check on the crested saguaro located outside the Old Main building.

Still doing well

We then headed through the downtown to have lunch with Dave and Sue at Thunder Canyon Brewery.

A couple of days later we went to Steve and MonaLiza’s site for a happy hour, complete with MonaLiza’s famous lumpia, a traditional Filipino version of an egg roll.  Dave and Sue also attended and we met Laura and Kevin there.  They both left careers in the legal field in the D. C. area to travel around the country in their motorhome.

Front: Laura, John, and Kevin  Rear: Steve, MonaLiza, Dave, Sue, and Pam

With rain in the forecast for later in the week we knew we needed to get out and hike while the sky was clear.  Gay and Joe (good-times-rollin) had written in their blog about a hike they did in Ventana Canyon during a previous visit to Tucson.  The hike sounded interesting to us so we decided to try it.

Ventana Canyon Trailhead

The trailhead is in a parking area for the Loew’s Ventana Canyon Resort, located off of North Kolb Road.  Signs direct you through an employee parking lot to an area designated for hikers.  The trail begins by winding up behind some apartments before turning north into the canyon.

The trail crosses back and forth across the Ventana Canyon Wash a number of times as it moves up the canyon.

Bone dry this year

About a mile up the trail you go through a cattle guard and enter the wilderness area of the Coronado National Forest.

After another half mile the trail becomes more difficult as it goes steeply uphill through a series of switchbacks.

Looking back down the canyon at the nimble hiker

We hiked up about 2.5 miles to a spot known as the Maiden Pools, which we knew would be dry due to the lack of rainfall in the Tucson area.  But we found a great perch on some large boulders where we could have lunch while enjoying the great view to the south.

Lunch with a view

While hiking back down the trail we could look back and see our lunch spot high above us.

Our lunch spot high in the distance

One of the many beautiful views in the canyon

The sharp eyes of the nimble hiker spotted a number of crested saguaros along the trail.

Crested saguaro arm

Last year friends Jenna and Michael (Restoration Cowboy Style) purchased a piece of property with two “fixer upper” houses in Pearce, AZ, about 75 miles southeast of Tucson, and are in the process of renovating them.  They have completed work on the smaller house on the property (to be used as a guest house later) and invited us down for a visit.  While southern Arizona has not seen any rain for a significant period of time, the day of our visit was one of a steady rainfall.

Scenic Interstate 10

Jodie and Bill (On the Road Abode) are staying in Tombstone, just to the west of Pearce, and also came over to join us.  We enjoyed a wonderful lunch in the beautifully restored “guest house.”  Michael and Jenna sure do nice work!

Michael (holding Emmi), Jenna, Bill, Jodie, and Pam

Every few days we are treated to a visit from a nearby motorhome resident.  Dave and Sue’s buddy Lewis loves to come over to enjoy a few treats and chase a ball around in our motorhome.  He especially loves to make a pile with our throw rugs and lose the ball in the pile.  His motto is “play hard or go home!”

Things finally dried out on Saturday, allowing us to enjoy a happy hour at Dave and Sue’s site along with Steve and MonaLiza (Lowe’s RV Adventures), and Joe and Gay ( (good-times-rollin).

Oh, we almost forgot to mention another attendee at happy hour!

After three days of rain and cool temperatures, we’re hoping for better weather in the upcoming week.  But things don’t look too good for the next couple of days so activities may be curtailed a bit.  More on that later . . .

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17 Responses to Visiting Friends and Hiking Ventana Canyon – Tucson

  1. Jeff says:

    Looks like a fun hike up the canyon for the nimble hiker with a sharp eye for the crested cactus. Nice to have so many friends spending the winter in Tucson and the time to gather.

  2. Jim and Barb says:

    You certainly found some more unique saguaros on that hike. We visited Thunder Canyon Brewery a couple times when we were there last year. It is a nice brewery with decent food.

  3. Now we have a new trail to follow when we get back there. Tucson has now become unofficial gathering of wonderful and beautiful friends! Both Lewis and I ignored Steve!

  4. rmacwheeler says:

    NO DOGS ALLOWED! That just aint right. Loved your clicks

  5. I had forgotten how many crested saguaros the nimble hiker can find–she’s good! Love the Lewis photo!

  6. Laurel says:

    I don’t think you guys are spending enough time with friends. :-)) It looks like you’re having a blast! So fun to see so many of our favorite RV buddies. We miss you guys! We still haven’t biked in Tucson, but it’s on our list for next time.

  7. pmbweaver says:

    WOW…got to admire Laura and Kevin for pursuing their dream.
    Why do you keep sharing photos with friends when we can’t be with you. Are you trying to raise my jealous blood pressure? lol But, we are really happy for y’all being with such nice people 😉
    I can’t believe Sue took a head on shot.

    New one for us….Ventana Canyon. Thanks for the heads up. Nice trail. Added to my Pinterest. I hope I can find at least one of those Crested saguaro.

    Beautiful sunset photo.

  8. Ingrid says:

    Fun times in the desert. We’re hoping to meet Laura and Kevin later this week.

  9. Hopefully all that rain will do it’s magic of greening things up and putting some water in those streams!

    Love all the crested beauties!

  10. Steve & Dianne Colibaba says:

    Great shots of the crested saguaros! More fun in the desert with friends! Enjoy!

  11. We had the best of intentions of tracking down some of those crested saguaro, but the cruddy weather conspired with a case of “the crud” to leave us stuck inside for days. Lame. 😦 We never got to the Desert Museum nor did we get to go hiking in Saguaro National Park…even though we were right at Gilbert Ray. So the bad news is, we still haven’t gotten to see all the cool stuff you all told us about. The good news is, we’ll be back next year with a giant to-do list ready to go. It was great meeting you guys!

  12. Nancy says:

    Fun time for ALL! I swear there are more crested saguaros in the Tuscon area …then in the back country we get into up here North of Phoenix.

    Glad to see you all back here in AZ having fun!

  13. Gay says:

    Great photos of Ventana Canyon…and so happy you found the cresteds we never noticed! 😩 It’s been great seeing everyone which makes coming to Tucson that much better.

  14. Sherry says:

    Love your pictures of the cresteds. The close ups are amazing. I’d sure like to have some of that cooler weather even if I had to take the rain. This is the hottest February I’ve ever even heard about in Florida. Nice times with all those folks whose blogs I read. Wish we were there.

  15. geogypsy2u says:

    Amazing how many crested saguaros you spotted, Nimble Hawkeye Hiker. If I drank beer and rode a bike I’d surely fall down. Good times with good people.

  16. LuAnn says:

    Looks like you’ve collected many friends during your time in Tucson. Love your crested saguaro photos. Glad to see Tucson is getting some much needed precipitation.

  17. Debbie L says:

    What fun! Great photos and challenging hikes. Hope to get out there one day….

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