A Visitor’s Guide to Outdoor Fun in Tucson
Spending time outdoors while traveling is a great way to experience a new area in a different way. Tucson and other Southwestern cities have their own natural attractions unique to the region. If you’re planning a trip to the area, start your search for hotels in Tucson, and then plan your adventure.
Take a Hike in the Park
Image via Flickr by Ade Russell
Looking to work up a sweat? Planning a hike in one of Tucson’s many parks is a great way to get your daily exercise. Sentinel Peak Park is a local landmark known for the painted “A” on the side of the mountain in honor of the University of Arizona. Adventure seekers can take the steep trail to the summit for panoramic views of the desert city.
Saguaro National Park serves as a sanctuary for the saguaro cactus that only grows in the Sonoran Desert. The park offers guided tours, informational exhibits, and a bookstore. Hiking here gives you the opportunity to get up close with the cacti.
Go Skiing in the Winter Months
Image via Flickr by hmmlargeart
If you’re traveling to Tucson during the winter months from December through April, you can hit the slopes on Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley. The drive to the slopes is about an hour from downtown Tucson, and the climate is vastly different as well. Ski lifts are available year-round for visitors to reach the top of the mountain. Lift ticket prices start at $11 for students and $23 for adults. Always check weather before visiting. Call Ski Valley for road conditions and lift closures.
Go Sightseeing in a Hot Air Balloon
Image via Flickr by Striking Photography by Bo Insogna
A hot air balloon ride is a great way to explore the area while enjoying nature. Tucson Balloon Rides offers free pickups and drop-offs from local resorts and hotels. Rides are last an hour with sweeping views of the desert and mountains, followed by a champagne brunch. Tucson Balloon Rides operates daily during balloon season from October through April. The ride path goes over the Sonoran Desert, Saguaro National Park West, Tucson Mountains, and Avra Valley. The tours begin 45 minutes before sunrise and cost $250 per adult.
Image via Flickr by Michael W Klotz – The Bird Blogger.com
There are over 500 species of birds in Tucson, so it’s no surprise that bird-watching is popular here. Common Tucson birds include the cactus wren, which is the Arizona state bird, along with the verdin, vermilion flycatcher, curve-billed thrasher, Gambel’s quail gila Woodpecker, and the silky black phainopepla.
Plan your visit during birding season from March through August for the best opportunity to see migrating birds from Mexico. For quick trips, visit Agua Caliente Park for desert birds. Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve is perfect if you have a whole day to spend bird-watching.
Go Rock Climbing on Mt. Lemmon
Image via Flickr by kevin dooley
Located in Tucson’s Santa Catalina Mountains, Mt. Lemmon is one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in the state of Arizona. Featuring over 2,700 climbing routes with the highest point at 9,000 feet above the desert floor, Mt. Lemmon has something for climbers of every skill level. If you’re not ready for a bigger climb, go bouldering in the foothills of Tucson. The smaller clusters are perfect for beginners or seasoned climbers looking to practice their skills.
Tucson has a lot to offer travelers looking to spend more time outdoors. The unique ecosystem allows visitors to experience the various seasons in one trip. Be sure to check out the local plants, flowers, and wildlife on your trip. Regardless of what you plan, you’re going to enjoy exploring this beautiful city.