We are pretty fortunate to have the ability to travel full time, seeing so many awesome cities and parts of the country we've never been too! Our focus this year is on the national parks and chasing 70º weather. Mother Nature is not really cooperating with the temps yet but Tucson certainly delivered on the national park! Among the dozens of things I really liked about our stop in Tucson, here are 6 things I definitely loved!
Saguaro National Park
National Park #4 on the tour is divided into two sides, east and west with the city of Tucson squarely in the middle. The west side feels like a desert. Probably because it is! The west side is in the Tucson Mountains District and features amazing desert landscapes staring the iconic saguaro cactus. The sunsets on the west side were truly special and something I looked forward to each day! The west side of the park had a lot of trails to hike and places to explore off the beaten path!
About 50 miles away, on the other side of Tucson, lies the east side of Saguaro National Park. The temps are a bit cooler and the elevation a bit higher. We arrived there the day after a freak snowstorm in Tucson making for an interesting visual between desert landscape and snow covered mountains!
Gilbert Ray Campground
We were fortunate to get a spot at the very popular Gilbert Ray Campground just a few miles away from the west side of the park and the views from there were just as amazing! Hiked a few trails connected to the campground. Our spot had us parked amongst the cactus and the stay there was just fantastic! They only had electric and the cost was $20/night. During the busy season the RV's are lined up by 10am hoping for a spot so get there early!
Fun facts about the saguaro: they grow pretty slow starting out, taking about 10 years just to get to about 2", but then grow faster depending on their environment. Also, they don't get their famous arms until they are 50-70 years old! So most of the cactus we saw were 100+ years old based on height and arms! Pretty cool, huh?
No matter where we were there seemed to be beautiful sunsets!
San Xavier Mission
The San Xavier Mission is amazing display of art and architecture. It was built in the late 1700's when southern Arizona was part of New Spain. It became part of the Mexico territory in 1821 and then joined the United States in 1854 as part of the Gasden Purchase. The mission has a rich history and despite over 200,000 annual visitors, it retains its original purpose in ministering to the needs of its parishioners. It's a must see if you are in Tucson!
Tucson Botanical Gardens
My first love is nature photography so every city we are in I check to see what gardens are available to visit. I am definitely in my happy place anytime I find a beautiful garden and although Tucson Botanical Gardens was smaller than I imagined, they pack a lot of culture, art and nature into it.
And of course there were plenty of cactus to check out. The birds were making use of them for housing and other resources!
I was happy to see hummingbirds, butterflies and bees! Probably very normal in this climate but I'm not used to seeing them in February!
Tucson was a fun stop on our adventure! We spent 3 weeks here exploring and doing a few projects and some maintenance on the trailer. We enjoyed touring the city and all that it had to offer. Check out our video installment for Saguaro below and don't forget to like and subscribe to keep up with us on our crazy adventure! You can also subscribe to this blog to receive email notifications when a new one posts. That link is in the upper right hand corner.