In Tucson, there’s plenty to do, naturally. You will find outdoor adventures for all ages and abilities.
Hike or bike in Saguaro National Park or in one of our beautiful state parks. Experience the dramatic Sonoran Desert up close at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, or explore another galaxy at our world-renowned observatories. Venture out on a guided four-wheel-drive tour, or take a horseback ride into the Santa Catalina Foothills.
Train Like a Pro
With warm, sunny days and miles and miles of scenic trails, it’s easy to see why serious cyclers know Tucson as the Winter Training Capital.
Outside Magazine calls Tucson “fit, fun and packed with adventure,” and named Tucson the best town for road biking in its August 2010 issue.
The myriad of great reasons to train here has recently attracted the likes of Lance Armstrong and his RadioShack cycling team, as well as the Canadian Olympic Cycling and Mountain Bike teams.
Armstrong called Tucson “a real cycling mecca.” At a local press conference, the seven-time Tour de France winner said “you have good infrastructure for roads, good climbs, nice flats; you also have a lot of bike lanes, which is helpful for any cyclist, but even for us when you’re rolling down the road with 23–24 guys... The interaction with the traffic and the local people has been wonderful.”
But it’s not all cycling. Triathlete Magazine picked Tucson as the second best city in the country for triathlon training, and those flats and climbs that Armstrong likes are equally good for runners.
Hike, Bike & Climb
The city of Tucson is surrounded by five mountain ranges – the Santa Catalinas and Tortolitas to the north, the Rincons to the east, the Santa Ritas to the south and the Tucson Mountains to the west – which feature a wide variety of hiking trails for all skill levels.
Ranging in intensity from nearly flat strolls through the cacti to steep scrambles up forest trails, Tucson’s hiking opportunities have something for just about everyone.
For mountain bikers, the surrounding ranges provide endless challenges. In the Rincons, intermediate riders can hit the Chiva Falls trail, with short, steep climbs and descents through rolling hills.
Seasoned bikers enjoy the challenging 14.6-mile La Mesa del Oso trail, a steep, open-desert excursion with loose, rocky climbs and daring descents.
Even those who didn’t pack their bikes can enjoy Tucson’s riding trails. Many of the city’s bicycle shops offer bike rentals, including Broadway Bicycles (140 S. Sarnoff Drive, (520) 296-7819, www.broadwaybicycles.com)
Serious climbers have long recognized Tucson as a destination for year-round climbs. The steep, craggy canyon walls near Mt. Lemmon are a playground for beginners and wall-crawling veterans alike.
For those just learning or seasoned climbers wanting to perfect their skills, the indoor walls at Rocks & Ropes provide a good place to play and train, and guides offer climbing trips into the mountains.
Ride into the Sunset
Rest your feet and take an alternative outdoor mode of transportation. Saddle up at Pusch Ridge Stables in beautiful Catalina State Park for an early morning horseback ride or an overnight adventure into the mountains.
Exchange the horse for horsepower and take in the desert aboard a customized sport utility vehicle. Black Diamond Hummer Tours of Tucson boasts luxurious, off-road excursions in quiet Hummer H2s.
It’s not all adventure and adrenaline here. Located along the migratory path between Canada and Mexico, Southern Arizona is one of the best birdwatching areas in the United States.
A wide variety of species can be observed all year long, and hummingbirds are especially plentiful. A number of communities in and around Tucson host birding festivals during peak migration times.
The San Pedro National Riparian Conservation Area (south of Tucson) is considered one of the largest and most critical avian migratory corridors remaining in the western United States.
Stretching from the Mexican border north for 36 miles, the area supports more than 350 species of birds, as well as roughly 80 mammal species and more than 40 species of reptiles and amphibians.
The conservation area includes about 40 miles of the Upper San Pedro River, where visitors can see both migratory birds and birds native to Southern Arizona.
An hour south of Tucson, in the Santa Rita Mountains, Madera Canyon features an outstanding cross-section of Southwestern bird habitats. More than 200 bird species have been recorded in the canyon, including hummingbirds, woodpeckers, jays and many more.
The Outdoors, Right Here
Outdoor experiences close to the city include the world-renowned Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the majestic Saguaro National Parks (both east and west), Tohono Chul Park and the Tucson Botanical Gardens.
So whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, an endurance athlete, a trail wanderer or a fan of flora and fauna, Tucson and its surrounding areas will satisfy your outdoor urge.
(Brought to you by the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau.)