Hundreds of years ago, the Hohokam made their home in the rugged Tortolita Mountains. For generations, they explored the hidden wonders of this wild terrain. They carved paths through the hills and to the basin below – once a dry riverbed, now swollen with monsoon rains. Listen carefully. The attentive hiker can still hear the echoes of their ancient footfalls. Watch closely. Observant eyes can glimpse their petroglyphs, offering a fleeting picture of a time long ago.
Sonoran Desert Flora and Fauna
As you wander the desert landscape of Marana, you’ll wonder at its abundant life. This fertile corner of the Sonoran Desert only barely qualifies as a desert. With 12 inches of rain every year, it’s no surprise that mesquite trees can live alongside thirsty sycamores. Mighty saguaros tower above the desert floor, while in their shadows a colorful array of chollas, ocotillo, prickly pear, palo verde and creosote paint the land with vibrant hues.
The life-giving Santa Cruz River cuts a riparian corridor through the valley, nourishing an ecosystem teeming with deer, ringtails, javelina and even the rare mountain lion.
Step carefully. A stealthy rattlesnake or a reclusive Gila monster may be camouflaged in the shade. The desert wanderer looks to these denizens of the dust not with fear, but with respect. Their innocuous cousin, the tortoise, may also be making his slow and steady sojourn nearby. In Marana’s wide-open spaces, you’re surrounded by the fierce tenacity of life.
In this gateway to Southern Arizona, you’ll find a place where history is etched into the earth and into a landscape that invites exploration. During the summer, intrepid photographers venture through the desert to capture when rain, lightning and sun collide. Fall bike rides treat cyclists to marvelous views of a white sea as Marana’s farmers harvest their fields of cotton. Grab a blanket in the winter and gaze up at the night sky, where thousands of stars twinkle, untouched by city lights. Spring’s warm days and cool nights make it hard to stay indoors.
From the moment the sun crests over the Tortolitas to its final glimmers as it sets behind the Silver Bell Mountains, you’ll want to soak in its warm rays. No matter the season, come into Marana so you can go out to the world.
Dining and Shopping Alfresco
Every desert wanderer needs an oasis, but when you’re shopping and dining in Marana, you don’t have to leave the great outdoors. Here, open-air retail centers and restaurant patios abound. Because when you’re in Marana, you won’t want to miss a moment of precious sunshine.
Hungry? The town is home to dining choices that will satisfy any appetite. Whether you’re in the mood for the casually elegant ambiance of craft cocktails and fine burgers next to a world-class golf course, or an authentic supper of gourmet tamales from a family-owned Mexican restaurant, you’ll find that this oasis has you covered. What are you waiting for? Pack your bags, grab a water bottle and get ready to Discover Marana.
(Brought to you by the Town of Marana, www.discovermarana.org)