A month in Tucson?

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Wenonah
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A month in Tucson?

Post by Wenonah »

I am trying to decide exactly when and how long to go to Tucson this winter. We are going to rent through VRBO and I found something near the 132 mile loop trail near the Catalina Hills and about 3.5 miles from U of A and 2 miles from 1.3 from the botanical gardens. That being said we are early 60s, sick of NW rain, and like to bike (will drive and bring ours), hike, bird watch and explore the outdoors. We went once before for a week and it snowed for 3 days in February. Is staying a month overkill? (During Covid, it's not like we can visit anyone or eat in great restaurants or go to museums...we HAVE to be careful) but we do love the outdoors... So birdwatchers, outdoors people, is Feb 17 to March 17 an OK time weather wise/bird wise/hiking/biking?? Just need a little expertise to help me pull the trigger! Thanks.
adamthesmythe
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Re: A month in Tucson?

Post by adamthesmythe »

You should have very nice weather, although as you have learned it is not a guarantee.

If you wait until May I think you can have an absolute guarantee of no snow. It could be hot however.
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camper
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Re: A month in Tucson?

Post by camper »

I have lived in Tucson for 40 years. March & April are the best months of the year.
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nisiprius
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Re: A month in Tucson?

Post by nisiprius »

We stayed 2-1/2 weeks in May of 2019 and another week-and-a-half would have been nice. Of course there was always luck, and this particular vacation was just magical. By luck I mean that we never got more than a few cactus spines in us, and the weather was perfect, and cactuses were in flower and we didn't get snakebit.

We stayed three nights at a guest house at Cat Mountain Lodge. It was a wonderful introduction, as the guest house literally was located on the edge of an area of desert, so we got our first look at saguaros and other wonderful things long before we got to the national parks or the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. We camped about a week at Gilbert Ray Campground and about a week at Catalina State Park. Loved the museums at the University of Arizona: the Flandrau Science Center, the Arizona State Museum. And really enjoyed a silly little museum, the "Museum of Optics," which occupies the lobby and a number of display cases on every floor of an eight-floor building. It had some great stuff, like cameras and their lenses sliced in half so you could see the lens configuration, and, well, every kind of camera I used as a kid. Loved Tohono Chul. Loved the Tucson Botanical Garden, both wonderful and quite different from each other. Loved the guided birding tour we booked. Loved Sabino Canyon. OK, liked the Tucson Museum of Art and liked the drive up Mount Lemmon. (The pitch for Mount Lemmon is zonation: at the bottom it is Sonoran desert and at the top it is like New England. So, for us, we were driving out of a magic, exotic landscape and into a boringly familiar landscape.)

It was so magical that I didn't even mind having both of our observatory nights cancelled due to clouds. I had booked one at a small private observatory that is associated with Cat Mountain Lodge, and one at Kitt Peak. If we'd had another week-and-a-half I might have taken another shot at them. And we didn't visit the Boneyard, and I sorta-kinda-maybe-woulda liked to visit Biosphere 2 but that was totally uninteresting to my wife.

I don't think I even mentioned the drive across Gates Pass. Or the petroglyphs on Signal Hill. Or the sundial that was accurate to about five minutes.

You won't see this in a tourist guide, because it, uh, wouldn't be interesting to every tourist.
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WoodSpinner
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Re: A month in Tucson?

Post by WoodSpinner »

OP,

Highly recommend:
Lots of good suggestions upthread as well.

WoodSpinner
Last edited by WoodSpinner on Tue Nov 24, 2020 1:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
scifilover
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Re: A month in Tucson?

Post by scifilover »

Catalina State Park off Oracle Road, great hiking

Saguaro National Monument has area both the East and West of Tucson.

If you want to see both Western and Native American Art checkout Medicine Man Gallery at the corner of Kolb and Sunrise.
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nisiprius
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Re: A month in Tucson?

Post by nisiprius »

scifilover wrote: Tue Nov 24, 2020 7:47 amSaguaro National [Park] has areas both the East and West of Tucson.
Just a note on the East and West parks. There is something to know about Saguaro National Park East. Nothing bad, but it's something to know about if you want to see saguaros. In Saguaro National Park East we were taken slightly aback by this sign.

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Although it is the "original," it was created in 1933 to showcase a magnificent stand of saguaros, which is now much diminished.

As casual stroller/hikers--our limit is about four miles and "moderate" terrain--my wife and I liked Saguaro National Park West better than Saguaro National Park East. BTW the introductory video presentation at Red Hills Visitor's Center should not be missed because of a very neat detail I am not going to spoil.

At any rate, although there are certainly saguaros there, there are actually more on in Saguaro National Park West, as well as that whole general area--there's a state area, Tucson Mountain Park, which abuts Saguaro National Park West... and includes the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The road through there, South Kinney Road, is dense with pullout and trailheads.
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deserat
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Re: A month in Tucson?

Post by deserat »

Tucson has 'regions': east side, west side, north side, northwest side, etc. Lots of mountainous areas: you could hike the Catalinas (the side towards the valley and city and the other side (north near Oracle, etc); Sabino Canyon is nice and has many hikes that can meet different levels of fitness. There are other hikes further east that are along the way to Mt Lemmon; you could drive out to the Chiracuahuas; you could hike out near Ft Huachuca; you could go south to Green Valley and hike Mt Wilson (highest mountain in southern AZ, although you will probably have snow near the top of that peak during the time you are there.

With regard to biking, Tucson has built a loop around the city for biking and there are many spurs in and out of the different areas of the city. You can also bike along the Rillito River, which has been paved for riding.

With regard to 'culture', there are lots of different things to do: Pinnacle Peak restaurant (old western town), Old Tucson studios (many Hollywood westerns were filmed there); The Arizona Inn (very old restaurant hotel now near the University that has a picture of when Tucson was all desert and they were the only hotel in town); many resorts for golfing/eating/spas); Parks and Rec offers many activities: tennis, badminton, swimming, softball, etc. Visitors can use those amenities, they just pay a little more than locals. There is a pickleball crowd that uses both Parks and Rec facilities as well as many of the different retirement community amenities-I'm fairly sure there will be several tournaments going on during your time in Tucson. Meet up is very lively and you can pick your activity and find a group that does that. Museums: some were mentioned above, Tohono Chul is another one of interest; I also like the botanical gardens in Tucson. If you are a private pilot, you can fly out of Tucson International (TUS) or Ryan airport (RYN) west of town.

Tubac is an artist 'town' colony south of Tucson near Green Valley - interesting place; Nogales is right on the border, so you can get some more Mexican culture/flavor there.

Lots of things to do in Tucson - enjoy your trip and Feb-early May is some of the best time to be there weather wise....
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Wenonah
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Re: A month in Tucson?

Post by Wenonah »

You have given me some great ideas, and we will use the outdoor trips in our planning. So is the Rialto river trip different than the Loop trail? I will write down the museums and indoor ideas for another trip as we will not be going inside any museums due to Covid. That's one of the reasons I am a little hesitant is because we don't plan on going into any museums or cool visitors centers. It sounds like we will find a lot to do, nonetheless. Thanks soooo much for sharing hikes and trips. I will order my new pickle ball racket for sure! We will enjoy a longer visit to the parks this time around. Sounds like February is iffy, so I might push it back a bit to enjoy more of March!
deserat
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Re: A month in Tucson?

Post by deserat »

The Rillito River runs through the center of the town - it is usually a dry river bed, but most of the route is paved along both sides and people walk, run, bike and roller-skate blade along it. There are areas along the path that go through the northern part of the town and you can stop at a restaurant or the farmer's market.

The loop goes around the town - several links of the paths are here:

https://ridetucson.bike/loop.aspx

https://www.biketucson.com/oro-valley-t ... bike-path/

https://bikeaz.org/tucsonloopbikepath/

I didn't play pickleball, but if you check with the Parks and Rec, they have times at the different gyms for indoor play and when you go there you can ask about the outdoor play - there are Facebook groups that set up play around the Tucson valley. https://www.tucsonaz.gov/parks https://www.visittucson.org/business/ci ... recreation

February is not bad weather-wise - you may get some winter rain, but it will be nothing compared to what is usually seen elsewhere in the USA. I would not let that (chance of rain) change your plans....most snowbirds come in November and leave in April/May.

Most people are outside anyhow at that time of year in Tucson - that's why they go there from the north. The weather is gorgeous and you can play outside.
DesertDiva
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Re: A month in Tucson?

Post by DesertDiva »

You can also check out Biosphere 2, Tombstone and Bisbee.
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