Staying Toasty in Tucson

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Hiking Sabino Canyon Recreation Area

After a wonderful drive down to Tucson, we were eager to get started on our visit. Early the first morning, we took a ranger hike in Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. Admission is by the day or week, but the best deal is if you are over 62 because you can buy the National Park Lifetime Membership for only $10 and itʼs good for 2 people at any National Park in the U.S. Sabino Canyon, located on the northeast side of Tucson, is a well loved hiking/biking/running/walking/photography destination due to the outstanding scenery, well-maintained trail system, wildlife viewing, and plenty of restrooms.
There's a tram system ($8 per person) that's used to shuttle people up and down the mountain or just to take them up so they can walk back down the 7-mile Phone Line Trail. Our guided walk was 3-miles long, but at an easy pace with lots of information about the geology, plants and wildlife. We hiked Phone Line Trail last year so this year we looked for new trails and hiked Blacketts Ridge and Bear Canyon. The 6- mile Blacketts Ridge had amazing views, but it is a very strenuous hike, climbing 1700ʼ in less than 2 miles. Bear Canyon is an easier hike and can be as long 6 miles if you go on to the Seven Falls.

There are lots of fun things to do in Tucson that do not charge admission, like the downtown city walking tour, but there are more that do. I would suggest buying the Tucson Attractions Passport, it's only $18 and gives you buy one get one free savings all over the city as well as other locations in southern Arizona. If you go to 3 or more attractions, you save money. Attractions that we visited and think are worth the visit (and are in the passport book) include the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Pima Air and Space Museum, Mission San Xavier del Bac and the Mini-Time Machine,


The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum recreates the natural landscape of the Sonoran Desert and is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one place. Call for the hours of the raptor show, it is amazing.


Pima Air and Space Museum chronicles flight from the Wright Brothers to modern aircraft and over 100 years of Aerospace history. The docent tours through the hangers (1-5) are informative and entertaining. The 80 acre AMARG or 'bone yard' bus tour is overwhelming in the sheer number of airplanes in storage.

The Mission San Xavier del Bac is one of the finest examples of mission architecture in U.S. southwest It's an active parish on the Tohono O'odham Reservation. Call or check on-line for tour schedules of the 45-minute tour of this 214-year old mission.

The Mini-Time Museum was one of the last places we visited in Tucson and it was surprisingly good. Opened in 2009 by miniature collector, Pat Arnell, it features dollhouses and miniatures from all over the world. The oldest dollhouse, the Nuremberg Kitchen, was built in 1742! This extraordinary collection appeals to visitors of all ages, interests and talents. My husband did comment that he only enjoyed himself because we took one of the docent led tours. He said looking at dollhouses was not something he could do more than 5 minutes, however, hearing the historical references and having the scale pointed out to him, made it memorable. One highlight is the only complete Brooke Tucker house, a masterpiece spanning 13 feet. I was amazed to learn that there's a whole mini industry and people that put together these fantastic rooms and houses.

Pima Air Museum

We loved our time in Tucson and plan to be back again next year. We keep discovering fun new things to do while we warm our winter-weary bones.

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