saguaro cactus

Touring Tucson

As we closed out February, we moved on from Organ Pipe Cactus NM east to the Tucson area. Returning to boondocking mode, we made camp on a small bit of BLM land just west of Tucson on Highway 86 called Snyder Hill (reviews here). My parents had also just arrived in the area but were set up just north of us at Gilbert Ray County Campground. We could have gone there as well in order to make our visiting a bit easier but we are still so thrilled with our new solar setup (Thanks Eddie!) that we just wanted to keep the “free day” count going!

In addition to several visits with my folks, we ventured into downtown Tucson, explored the Saguaro National Park (west only) and a few other photo ops such as the noted San Xavier Mission. We got a nice surprise visit from my brother and his two kids who dropped in from the Phoenix area!

Downtown Tucson: We made two trips into the historic heart of the city.  First trip we checked in at the visitors center where we discovered a fun way to explore – follow the Turquoise Trail! A great deal of southwest history is on display, including a statue of Pancho Villa, the San Augustin Presidio, Hotel Congress, historic railroad depot and St. Augustine cathedral. One of the things that caught Patricia’s photographic eye were the many and varied colored doors of the Barrio Historico.

The second trip we were accompanied by two new friends/fellow nomads we recently met while at Organ Pipe NM, Bob and Kathrun. They also moved to Snyder Hill BLM after Organ Pipe. We spent a fun afternoon and evening walking more of the Turquoise Trail, taking pictures of doors and capping the day off with dinner at Veg In A Box.

Saguaro National Park:  Of all the desert environments we have seen so far, we like exploring the Sonoran Desert the best. It is the most heavily vegetated and varied of all deserts. The saguaro cactus is its most prominent plant. It towers above all the other vegetation and is the most recognizable symbol of this region with its almost human-like shape. We didn’t get as much hiking in the park as I’d hoped but we checked out the nice visitor center and drove the scenic Bajada Loop.

As far as our camping at Snyder Hill is concerned, we had a good experience. There were a few negative reviews where people felt like their “neighbors” were a bit shall we say…unsavory? We had no such feeling. The vast majority of folks here appeared to be regular travelers much like ourselves. We were away from the RV much of each day exploring and never had anybody bother it. A sprawling campground it is not but we would use this spot again.

Time to continue eastward!