Tucson, United States

Photo by
Knargle

City Overview

Despite its many strip malls and hordes of retirees in the winter, Tucson has accessible wilderness area within 15 minutes of driving distance. The Santa Catalina Mountains rise up from the city with amazingly beautiful canyons and trickling streams that support incredible wildlife and bright-leaved trees standing out from the green-orange desert countryside. Saguaro NP should not be missed, with its incredible stands of the world's most incredible plant- the Saguaro cactus. Don't come to Tucson for the nightlife; with all those old people, they roll up the streets at 9. But if nature is your thing, Tucson will be your city. I'd advise coming with a car, because public transit is non-existent and you'll appreciate the freedom. The early spring is best, with hot days, crisp nights in the mountains under infinite stars, and the flowering of the desert that brings the land to vibrant life... Come to Tucson, and you'll experience the beauty of the desert.

Joel

City overview by
Knargle

Suggested Itineraries

1 To 3 Days

Mt Lemmon
by Knargle about 5 years ago
Mt Lemmon

The best hike close to Tucson is in my opinion not Saguaro NP (although Saguaro is still very worth checking out), but Mt Lemmon in the Santa Catalina mountains just east of the city. By starting in Catalina Sate Park, which basically borders the city, you can see all the area's ecosystems in one 14-mile hike. You can start in the low desert and ascend through desert scrub, chaparral, grasslands, and conifer forests... the diversity of scenery and wildlife is stunning. There are various routes up Mt Lemmon- routes are best decided on at the park, where the staff can give you maps and guidance. Your best bet is to hike up with camping gear (and warm clothes in the winter- don't rely on "Arizona Weather!") and find a campsite somewhere in the high elevations, then get up early, make the summit early and come back down. The hike is 14 miles up and another 14 down- too long to do in a day, at least for me! The combination of amazing beauty and proximity to Tucson can't be beat.