Posted by: RasmaSandra | June 2, 2022

Terrific Tucson

Tucson, Arizona is known as the “City of Sunshine” and is home to the University of Arizona. It is the second largest city in the state.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is located in Tucson Mountain Park which covers about 20,000 acres of Sonoran Desert landscape. There is an extensive trail system that is used for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The park abuts the west section of Saguaro National Park and you can expect to see wildlife like mountain lions and bobcats among others. There is also one of the best campgrounds the Gilbert Ray Campground.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum offers visitors a closer look at the desert landscape around Tucson. Displays show living animals and plants which are native to the Sonoran Desert among them some endangered species such as the Mexican wolf, thick-billed parrot, ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, desert pupfish, Sonora chub, bonytail chub, razorback sucker, and Gila topminnow.

Along the footpaths you can see hummingbirds flitting from flower to flower. There are about 40,000 plants representing 1,200 species. You can see live animal presentations among them the Raptor Free Flight where haws fly over the audience. There is a stingray touch tank and an aquarium with 14 tanks showcasing the aquatic life of the desert. The Gulf of California along the Riparian Corridor area features river otters, bighorn sheep, and beavers.

In Saguaro National Park you can see the signature saguaro cactus which is the tallest species in North America. There are hiking trails all through the park and among the animals and reptiles that live here are Gila woodpeckers, cactus wrens, desert tortoises, jackrabbits, and Gila monsters (lizards).

There are two sections to the park – the more popular Saguaro East – Rincon Mountain District and Saguaro West – Tucson Mountain District. Saguaro East has wonderful paved driving roads with short hikes while Saguaro West had more rugged beauty and offers awesome hikes and scenic drives on gravel roads.

Mission San Xavier del Banc is known as the “White Dove of the Desert” and was established by the Spanish Jesuits in 1770. The ornately decorated church offer a fine example of Baroque architecture. Today it is used by the Tohono O’odham Indians as a spiritual center. Visitors can walk through the old church and the grounds. The museum has artifacts that high light the history of the Misson and there is a 20-minute video.

The El Presidio Historic District is one of the oldest inhabited sites in the US. It was once the home of the Hohokam Indians and in 1775 it became the site of a Spanish military fort that later would become the City of Tucson. In this area you can see a mix of Spanish-Mexican and Anglo-American architecture as well as restored adobe houses.

Among the main tourist attractions is the Old Town Artisans, a restored marketplace from the 1850s. There is an entire city block of galleries and stores housed in unique buildings. You can relax as the El Charo Cafe which claims to be the oldest continuously operating family-owned Mexican restaurant in the US.

Catalina State Park located just north of Tucson, is a desert regions with picnic areas and offereing great hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails. You can enjoy seeing wildlife and it is home to some of the best camping in the Tucson area. Visitors enjoy seeing the Romero Ruin archaeological site. A walking trail will take you through the desert to the remains of a Hohokam Indian village.

The University of Arizona in Tucson is home to the impressive Arizona State Museum, Mineral Museum, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona Museum of Art, the Flandrau Science Center, and the Campus Arboretum.

The Arizona State Museum documents 10,000 years of Indian cultural history, It was established in 1893 and is the oldest and largest anthropology musuem in the southwest US. Among the exhibits include the largest vessel collection of Southwest Indian pottery, a comprehensive Hohokam artifact display, one of the top Navajo textile collections, and hundreds of Mexican folk masks.

The Mineral Museum offers a vast collection of gems, minerals, and meteorites from the US and all over the globe.

The Center for Creative Photography, created in 1975 by the one-time University of Arizona President John P. Schaefer and renowned photographer Ansel Adams, features tens of thousands of photos and focuses on the history of North American photography.

The University of Arizona Museum of Art has a large collection of artwork from the old masters through to contemporary art.

St. Augustine Cathedral was built in the Mexican Baroque style in 1896. Looking at the facade you can see the intricate coat of arms of Pope Pious XI and carvings of various native desert plants. Inside the door hangs an impressive crucifix dating from the 12th or 13th century.

The Reid Park Zoo is a small zoo with a collection of exotic animals. It includes such favorties as elephants, bears, lions, tigers, giraffes, and other animals. The zoo is laid out in a large loop, with three smaller loops, including Expedition Tanzania, Tropical Trail, and the Lee H. Brown Family Conservation Learning Center. Among the attractions is the Reid Park Zoo Express train, a wet play area, and daily activities that change regularly.

Colossal Cave is a short drive east of Tucson in nearby Vail. It is one of the largest dry caverns in the US. Three different tours are available: Classic, Ladder, and Wild. Depending on your level of adventure and fitness. The 2,400-acre park also features a museum, butterfly garden, guided horseback riding, wagon rides, as well as hiking and horse trails. Basic camping is also available but there is no electricity or water on the individual sites

The Tohono Chul Botanical Gardens have a wonderful collection of plants from the Sonoran Desert. One of the highlights is the Cereus plant that blooms only at night. There are eight different outdoor exhibits ranging from a desert palm oasis to a wall highlighting the geology of the area. Two walking trails will take you through the southern section of the garden. There are also several permanent artwork collections on display from artists including Mark Rossi, Fred Borcherdt, and Ned Egan.

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