Tucson, Arizona’s Sonoran Desert landscape and 350 days of sunny weather per year have landed the city on many a nature lover’s top-ten list. This beautiful urban area is almost completely surrounded by five different mountain ranges, providing a diverse array of ecosystems which nurture an intricate web of plant and animal life. During your extended stay in Tucson, be sure to take advantage of the hundreds of miles of trails that have been set delicately amid this stunning natural tapestry. The following activities are some of the most popular ways you may choose to enjoy Tucson’s splendor.
Hiking in Tucson
Between its surrounding mountain ranges, Tucson offers hundreds of miles of hiking, accessible by hikers of all ages and abilities. Visitors will leave the comfort of their local lodging, drive through the cactus and sand of the Sonoran Desert, through rolling grassy hills, and eventually find themselves among Ponderosa Pines as they top out in the area’s highest elevations. Hikers will be thrilled with the variety of plant and animal life they witness as they explore the area’s canyons, rivers, desert and mountains.
If your schedule doesn’t allow for an all day excursion, comfort yourself in knowing that Tucson’s urban trails await you during whatever down time you are able to set aside. Both Rillito River Trail Park Trail and Santa Cruz River Park Trail offer lovely walking or jogging experiences within city limits.
Biking in Tucson
Tucson was voted the third best cycling city in the United States by a popular bicycling magazine. The city offers over three hundred miles of metropolitan bike ways and more than five hundred miles of single track mountain bike trails in and around the metro area. Bring your own bicycle, or rent one from one of the many bike shops or clubs Tucson has to offer. Don’t forget to secure a State Land Recreation Permit before you ride on State Lands, and always share the trails!
For true enthusiasts of the sport, Tucson offers several premier bicycling events. In November, El Tour De Tucson brings 9,000 participants to town, ready to tackle the 110 mile course. April welcomes the Tour of the Tucson Mountains with its 27 and 73 mile courses around (not over) Tucson’s mountain ranges.
Surrounded by mountainous terrain and stunning rock formations, Tucson is inevitably a rock climber’s paradise. Whether you are in town on business or pleasure, rock climbing provides a wonderful way to relieve stress in a beautiful natural setting. Mount Lemmon is one of the area’s most popular destinations, and boasts more than 1,200 climbing routes. Though Mount Lemmon is suitable for any level of climber, beginners may wish to practice on the large boulders just outside of town before heading up the mountain.
The diversity of ecosystems surrounding Tucson provides homes to more than 500 avian species, including such unique examples as the Gray Hawk, Red Faced Warbler, and Vermillion Flycatcher. Summer months are characterized by sightings of beautiful hummingbird species. These tiny birds are famous for their striking colors and charming acrobatic displays. Bird watching is a favorite pastime of many Tucson residents, so be sure to contact a local club to find out the best viewing areas.
While Tucson offers delights of a different sort around nearly every urban corner, visitors should be sure to explore the area’s further reaches as well. Just outside of the city limits a vast and inspiring landscape awaits your exploration. Famously mild and sunny weather further encourages your inner nature lover to spend time amongst the blooming cacti before returning to the comfort of your extended stay or corporate lodging. While you may arrive in Tucson with business on your mind, you will thank yourself for making time to recharge your body and mind in the city’s natural playground.