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Old 12-28-2019, 11:37 AM   #1
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February/March in Tucson, AZ

We are planning to visit the Tucson, Arizona area for several weeks in late February and early March of this coming year. Does anyone have recommendations on where we should stay, or about things to do in the area (we are very outdoor types)?
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Old 12-28-2019, 11:58 AM   #2
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I can’t make any recommendations, but am following along. We would like to do this same trip in a few years. Hopefully you’ll get some good info.
Thx for posting
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Old 12-28-2019, 04:27 PM   #3
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We come down every winter to Tucson- some of our favorite things to do are Sonora Desert Museum- the Raptor Free Flight show is a MUST! Also visit Sierra Vista and Whitewater Draw to see the 30,000 sandhill cranes wintering over here. San Pedro House in SV is also good. Lots of hikes and places to see but these are our faves. Enjoy!
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Old 12-28-2019, 05:56 PM   #4
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Not knowing how far afield you're willing to wonder I'll throw out two places I like in the area, Picacho Peak State Park and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Picacho Peak is right on the drag but I enjoyed our stay. Organ Pipe is a bit off the beaten path but a very nice campground and some nice hiking trails. East and a bit past Benson are the Dragoon Mountains. The rest stop on I-10 in that area is spectacular. I didn't care for the touristy schtick of Tombstone but I did enjoy my visit. There are some very nice scenic drives in the Tombstone and back to Tuscon areas.
“While you live, shine / Have no grief at all / Life exists only for a short while / And time demands its toll.”
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Old 12-28-2019, 07:03 PM   #5
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We've stayed at Catalina State Park several times when visiting Tucson and also Picacho Peak S.P. about a half hour north of Tucson. Many people have recommended Gilbert Ray campground which I believe is a county park and just outside Tucson. That said you may have trouble getting reservations to Catalina as it's very popular.

Check the Visitor Center in downtown Tucson, they are a great source of information. They also sell a booklet of 2 for 1 coupons which will pay for itself quickly. It includes most of the popular attractions.

Places to see: Sonoran Desert Museum (a must to appreciate the Sonoran Desert), Saguaro National Park (just up the road from the Sonoran Desert Museum), Titan Missile Museum, Mission San Xavier del Bac (on the road towards the Titan Missile Museum, Pima Air and Space Museum. As I recall, all of the above are in the coupon book.

Mount Lemmon is worth a visit as you can drive up to the ski hill (or bike up it - a lot of cyclists up there), Sabino Canyon. Downtown Tucson is a nice place to explore.

Organ Pipe Cactus is one of our favourite parks (we've stayed there twice) and one you will appreciate more if you do the Sonoran Desert Museum tour first. No services there but an excellent campground. It's a fairly easy day's drive from Tucson.

Whitewater Draw is an amazing place. The sandhill cranes depart in the morning to forage in nearby fields and return in late morning to maybe a half dozen flocks around the marsh edges of then lake - literally thousands of them. Whitewater is about 2 hours from Tucson I expect (we were staying in Benson when we visited). When there five years ago, there was room at Whitewater for a few RV's to boondock. Karcthner caverns State Park would be a good place to stay if visiting Whitewater Draw. We stayed at the Saguaro Co-op an Escapees park in Benson which had a good introductory offer.

If you can't get a reservation at Catalina, there usually seemed to be room at Picacho Peak. I recall that Gilbert Ray didn't have reservations and likely had a fair bit of turnover but can't say for sure. Check it out first as the direct road to Gilbert Ray (which is close to the Sonoran Desert Museum) is posted no RV's so you may have to take a back route in.
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Old 12-28-2019, 10:36 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by StreaminGeo View Post
We are planning to visit the Tucson, Arizona area for several weeks in late February and early March of this coming year. Does anyone have recommendations on where we should stay, or about things to do in the area (we are very outdoor types)?


We stay just west of Tucson in an RV park. Just off of R 86. Drive to Tubac walk the streets lot of artists. Eat lunch or dinner at the Stable Restaurant (will not be disappointed). See old Tucson where a lot of western movies were made. See the Biosphere north east of Tucson. Drive to the top of Mt Lemon.
Bob & Julie # 5587, 4CU in AZ
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Old 12-29-2019, 09:23 AM   #7
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We dry camped at Rose Canyon campground on Mt Lemmon last June. At 7000’ it was a bit cooler than the 106 in Tucson and Phoenix. Lesson learned: don’t go up the mountain with anything less than a full tank of gas. There are no gas stations up there, even in Summer Haven at the top. It’s 25-30 MPH going up, and about 3-6mpg pulling a trailer.
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Old 12-29-2019, 11:37 AM   #8
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following - the reststop (mentioned above) east of Tucson - stopped at midnite (EB) and woke up to the most magnificent red rock mountain face.
Better than most SPs, NFS or other campgrounds, but not a place to stay.
Nice surprise, though.
Happy Trails
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Old 12-29-2019, 12:28 PM   #9
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That's a nice time of the year to be in Tucson. If you are considering the State Parks, get online now. By looking on a number of consecutive days 2 months ago, we were able to grab what must have been a cancellation at Catalina SP on the north side of Tucson. Good hiking, access to an awesome city-wide bike trail system, lots to see and do. Gilbert Ray looked nice, but no services to my recollection, and generators not allowed, also to my recollection. We are also a fan of Lazydays KOA on the south side. Our experience has been great service, not cheap, but again get checking now. Good spot for exploring south on I-17, Tubac has been mentioned, Mission San Xavier del Bac, the airplane bone yard, and more. Enjoy!
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Old 12-29-2019, 01:44 PM   #10
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I agree with all the suggestions. For history buffs, there is an old Spanish mission San Xavier del Bac that is worth a visit. It is the oldest European structure in Arizona and filled with striking statues and paintings. And, although not outdoorsy, the Titan Missile site is very cool. You get to tour an underground silo and get a good overview of the Cold War era defense strategy Mutually Assured Destruction.
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Old 12-29-2019, 02:09 PM   #11
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I cannot recommend a place to stay in Tuscon. I have stayed at Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson. It has electric and water sites only. Beautiful area and great cave tour. This is a warm moist cave so hydrate yourself before entering.
It is an easy day trip from Tuscon.
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Old 12-29-2019, 02:12 PM   #12
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Don't forget Kit Peak National Observatory https://www.noao.edu/kpvc/ and the Richard F. Caris Mirror Laboratory at the University of Arizona. This is where they are making the 8 meter mirrors for the large telescopes in Chile. You can make reservations for night viewing at Kit Peak and during the day tour several large telescopes.This is one of the premier dark sky locations in the country. We will be there early in February for the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.which is the largest in the world.
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Old 12-29-2019, 04:41 PM   #13
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Great thread. Following.
Lisa and Paul

2017 30' FC | 2002 Chinook Destiny | 2008 23' Int. CCD (written off: hail!)
Full-time since July 31, 2017
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Old 12-29-2019, 05:12 PM   #14
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We camped here in Tucson and liked it so much we ended up moving here. Lots to see and do within a day's drive so lots of happy Airstreaming. I would second others oppinions to spend a few days in Organ Pipe, one of our favorite parks in the country - and take your passports and cross the border and visit El Pinacate, a World Heritage park in Mexico, it could be an all day event. In Tucson I would split my time between Gilbert Ray for a week or two to explore the many nice things to the south of the city, Madera canyon, Tumacacori, San Xavier mission, desert museum and the west part of Saguaro NP. Then spend another week or two at Santa Catalina SP at the other end of town. Lots of great hiking right there. Also worth a day trip is the Sonoita wine region and Cochise stronghold and the Amerind museum. Plenty to see and do in downtown Tucson, not your usual chains or fast food. Great time to visit but be prepared for cold snaps. Last year it snowed about an inch Feb 22, but it did not last.
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Old 12-31-2019, 07:38 AM   #15
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This is a lot to go on, folks. Thank you!
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Old 12-31-2019, 05:44 PM   #16
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I live in Oro Valley (NW Tucson). The LazyDays KOA is also a great place to stay - very nice!

Also check out:

Titan Missal Museum: (requires reservations)

Old Tucson:

And the Sonoran Desert Museum:
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Old 01-05-2020, 12:39 PM   #17
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Rose Canyon is a nice park and they stock trout there too, BUT. It is closed for the Winter and won't reopen until about Memorial day.
We live here, also in OroValley dangerously close to Tucson and Yes to all of the above, Gilbert Ray if you don't need hookups(night skies are amazing on that side of the mountains), Catalina State Park or Picacho if you do, plus the KOA at Lazy Days RV if you want something upscale. Be sure to bring your golf clubs and look me up when you get here!
And, if you are here Feb 9th on Sunday afternoon 'The Dust Devils' (a fun,fabulous, wonderful, creative, bluegrass/newgrass/Americana band...ok it's MY band...) are playing in downtown Tucson from 5 to 7 at a craft brewery called Public Brewhouse. Be sure to come over and say hello, and maybe we can do dinner someplace.?

Here's a link; https://www.facebook.com/dustdevilsb...?ref=bookmarks

I'm the good looking one(you pick).

One more thing, be sure to add El Corral to your 'must go' places to eat. Prime Rib, home made horseradish and Tomale' pie...

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Old 01-05-2020, 01:12 PM   #18
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I live in Oro Valley (North Tucson). Only a short drive away you should visit Tombstone. It's touristy but a fun old west way to spend a day.

Also Colossal Cave is just south of Tucson https://colossalcave.com/

The Saguaro National Park is beautiful, authentic Arizona and tons of hiking opportunities. I prefer the park north of town versus south plus it is the location of the Desert Museum and Old Tucson. You could spend several days easily.
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Old 01-05-2020, 01:27 PM   #19
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Kartchner Caverns

Kartchner Caverns State Park is a beautifully maintained park with water and electric hookups. The caverns, and their story, are fascinating. KCSP is a nice base from which to explore Bisbee, AZ as well. Skip Tombstone.
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Old 01-05-2020, 01:49 PM   #20
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Check out County Fairgrounds east of town. Stay at the back of the RV park, not up front. Might be booked if there are events.
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