Tucson/ Desert Trails Edition 1

When we travel in the Tincan we gravitate toward National, State or County parks. These parks offer great amenities as well as amazing scenery. The downside is you can only stay for a maximum of two weeks. Currently there are a lot more people on the road looking to camp making these parks harder to get into. This year we decided to try a private park for an extended stay.

Site W9 next to the TV Lounge on a rare cloudy day

We woke up to this on our first morning in the park.

The park’s location puts us close to Tucson galleries, restaurants and breweries. Every place we want to go is about a 25 minute drive. The real attraction however is the extensive system of mountain bike trails accessible from the park.

The beginning of another great Arizona sunset

The Saguaro National Park-West is a short drive from Desert Trails RV. The Park offers the Bajada Scenic Loop drive and numerous hiking trails as well as thousands of Saguaro. It takes 70 years before the Saguaro sprout branches or arms. They reach their full height of 40 to 50 feet after about 150 years.

The Signal Hill Trail is a short hike to a number of petroglyphs made by the Hohokam people between 450 and 1450 CE.

We always enjoy wandering and biking through the Sonoran Desert. There’s no telling what you might see.

Crime scene?
A rare crested Fishhook Barrel Cactus; the first we’ve seen
A rare crested Saguaro Cactus; the second one we’ve seen

Sunsets in the Sonoran Desert are a special event. We worry about boring people with endless photos of sunsets but sometimes we can’t help ourselves.

Sunset from Gates Pass

Tucson, the Catalina SP Edition

site 15- B Loop

Catalina State Park is a popular park located in the Tucson suburb of Oro Valley. The park is surrounded by development but you wouldn’t know it from inside the park.

We enjoy the park’s many hiking and biking trails. It’s a theme that connects all the locations we gravitate towards.

Another plus for the park is its proximity to the Pima County Bike Loop. The “Loop” consists of 131 miles of paved trail that circles the city. From the entrance of the park you have easy access to the Oro Valley Feeder to the loop. Walkers, bikers, skaters are all welcome.

One of the pleasures of travel is getting to meet people. During our stay at Catalina SP we met two couples who are full time RVers. It’s always fun to hangout and talk with fellow travelers. We spent a morning biking a section of the loop referred to as the “art loop” which featured a number of art installations.

Pat, Mary Ann, Joe, Susanne, Paul
The Batty Bicyclist installation

The park hosts a lot of visitors and the trails can get busy. We’ve visited a number of times and have found some trails that are underutilized. One we often return to is The Montrose Pools Trail.

The pools had a bit of water in them

Oracle State Park is about thirty minutes north of Catalina. It is a 4,000 acre wildlife refuge with 15 miles of hiking trails. The park is at a higher elevation than Catalina SP with a beautiful oak woodland chaparral and weathered granite boulders.

The park’s campsites have been full during our entire stay. In fact, we had to book two different sites for our two week stay.

Site 16- B Loop

The Romero Ruins Trail is a short popular hike. A few years ago we discovered that if you follow an unmarked trail off the Ruins trail it takes you near the base of the Pusch Ridge in the Catalina Mountains.

The trail passes through an area stricken by fire

Saguaro National Park consists of two districts on opposite sides of Tucson, west and east. We’ve visited Saguaro West but hadn’t checked out Saguaro East-Rincon Mountain District. The park offers hiking and biking trails as well as an eight mile scenic drive through the saguaro forest.

Drivers share the scenic loop with bicyclists

Hiking in the desert in the heat of the day can be brutal and takes some planning, but on Sunday we woke up to an overcast day. We wanted to hike the Sutherland Trail to Cargodera Canyon and took the opportunity given us by lower temperatures and cloudy skies.

Sunsets in the desert are the best and we’ve seen our share of them since we landed in Arizona. We couldn’t pick just one !