Tours, travels, hikes and journeys!

Posts tagged ‘Tucson’

Arizona Inn, Tucson, AZ

I had never heard of the Arizona Inn, but while in Tucson my temporary landlord invited me to a Passover meal and one of the guests worked there as the master woodworker in the onsite cabinet and furniture making shop, and he was talking about it’s beauty and history, so I went to check it out.

A friend and I went one Sat. afternoon in March and wandered around.  It is located on 14 acres in mid-town Tucson, on Elm Street, between Country Club and Campbell Ave., not far from the house my Mom lived in.  It was opened in 1930, and at the time it was considered out in the country.  Isabella Greenway built it partially to create an Inn for visitors to stay in, but also to provide a market for the furniture that was being built in her business that hired WWI Veterans.  The market crash of 29 had cut down on the market for the furniture she was building and she wanted to keep these vets employed so created her Inn and furnished it with the furniture they were building. The Inn still employs master woodworkers, such as the man I met, to restore the original furniture and create new pieces. The Inn still continues Isabella’s progressive policies and often hires immigrants to work there. They are very supportive of their employees. The man I met at the dinner had worked there happily for many, many years.

Isabella was quite a progressive woman and became the first congresswoman for AZ. She was close friends with Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband rode with Teddy Roosevelt’s rough riders.

The 4 diamond Inn is beautifully landscaped with many gardens and fountains spread throughout.  There are 95 casita type rooms and suites, 2 2-story 6000 sq. foot residential homes with 5 Bdr. each and their own private pool and a smaller 2 bdr. guest house.  The room rate starts at $139 a night.  They host weddings, corporate retreats, family reunions and other events.

There is a tennis court, heated outdoor pool, large library, an exercise facility, a sauna, a 4 diamond dining room, a bar that serves food and food available next to the pool, a business center, various games and even ice cream served by the pool seasonally. I love the beautiful Spanish architecture, and all the little added details on the windows and tiles.

So if you are in Tucson and need a place to stay, check it out. Or even if you don’t, go walk around and enjoy the beautiful landscaping.

Arizona Inn 7 entrance Arizona Inn 1 going up to a room Arizona Inn 3 a great window on the property Arizona Inn 4 view into another area of rooms Arizona Inn 6 courtyard

 

 

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Hikes Galore in Tucson, AZ!

I have lived in Tucson, AZ a few times, graduating from the University of AZ with a degree in Early Childhood Education.  Tucson is where I started studying holistic health and spiritual therapies in 1973. Tucson is where I really started studying and playing guitar.  Tucson is where I had my profound near death experience in 1987.  I used to hike there up to 7 days a week and sometimes I’d do 2 hikes in a day.

One of my favorite hikes and one that I spent a semester going to every day, is Upper Tanque Verde Falls.  It is a pass between the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Rincon Mountains, huge granite boulders.  You reach it by driving out Tanque Verde road which turns into a dirt road called Reddington Pass Road. You continue past the signs for lower Tanque Verde Falls and look for usually at least a few cars parked on the left hand side of the road.  There is a metal sign that marks the main trail head. The trail is only about 1/2 mile down to the beach and falls.  You can just park yourself there or scramble up or down stream. The rocks are slippery so be careful.  When the water is running it is beautiful and cooling. Even in the winter when there is no water, it is very lovely as the water has carved out these beautiful shaped boulders. It is clothing optional so be ready for nudity. The upper falls are kept cleaner, there are less people and it is an easier hike to it than lower tanque verde falls.

A little further on the trail ...Upper tanque verde falls Amazing boulders Upper Tanque Verde falls Beach and pool Upper Tanque Verde falls Stiated boulder Upper Tanque verde falls

 

When I came back to Tucson in March and April this year I went back to a few old hiking places but went online and found more options, exploring areas I hadn’t been to before. Some of the hikes I did several times.  I was often the only one on the trail, and really pushed myself to go further, doing over 20 hikes in the two months I was there.  One of the new hikes I went on was a loop trail combining the Camboh, Panther Peak Wash and Roadrunner trails adding up to 4.6 miles.  it is out in the Northern part of the Saguaro Forest West park, my favorite for its plethora of Saguaro Cactus and the beautiful road leading to it.   The Camboh trail takes you curving through low desert plants and I passed a rattlesnake sleeping partly underneath a bush.  You then turn north, crossing the road and head into Panther Peak wash, walking in the wash north and then west with the Tucson Mountains on the north side.  Then you turn south and walk the Roadrunner trail, walking through a forest of cholla cactus. People have often seen roadrunners here.  There are a few houses next to this part of the trail but it is still beautiful.

Cam boh trail 2 Tucson Mountains with Catalina Mountains in background April 3 2013 Cam boh trail rattlesnake Cam boh trail  6 lush cholla cactus on Roadrunner trail Cam boh trail 1 lush desert

 

Another new one I discovered in Dec. when I was in Tucson and then returned to in March and April is the Camino de Oesta trail to the Stone house.  You drive out Speedway heading West and that turns into Gates Pass Road. As the road curves left to change names, you will intersect with Camino de Oesta. Follow that to the end and park.  I liked this trail because it is close to town and so was easy to just head on over to for a quick afternoon hike. I often heard owls here.  It is beautiful to see it greening out in the spring and the spring flowers popping up.  I usually just took the path along the side of a mountain, back and forth through the washes and desert to the stone house built years ago.  Toward the end of my stay though I explored the Resort road trail, which leads to the Marriott Starr Pass  resort.  You can reach the road there, to the east, walk north past the entrance and catch another trail heading west and then south up and over a mountain, hooking in with the resort loop trail and then coming back on the CDO trail. That is about 3.7 mile trail. This is on the west side of Tucson so you get that wondrous Saguaro forest of the west side.

Old homestead on Camino de Oeste trail Another cactus forest shot on the Camino de Oesta Trail April 1st Bowen homestead looking west CDO resort trail 4 View looking east

 

For the first time I checked out Catalina State State park.  There is a fee to enter but worth it. There are camping and RV sites and places for groups to picnic or camp, too.  To reach it, you drive north on Oracle Road and you will see the signs.  You get a beautiful view of the western and northern sides of the Santa Catalina Mountains.  I went on three trails, well, four trails really. I started out on the Canyon Loop trail going counter clockwise (the easier direction), hiking up a short hill and then took a detour to the Montrose Pools. These were sweet pools off the trail leading to Romero Pools. Then I came back on that trail, continued on the Canyon loop trail going counter clockwise, down a long set of steps (hence the benefit in going counter clockwise), through landscape dotted with amazingly old Saguaro cacti with many arms, next to small stream and ending near the parking lot. Then I crossed to the south and took the birding trail through stands of different trees and riparian areas for birding. Then I drove to the trail head for the short trail through the Romero Ruin trail. This trail leads you to the ruins of an old Farm house, and also older Indian ruins. The total for all the hikes was around 5 miles.

 

Birding trail view of mountains Canyon loop trail 3 Saguaros Canyon loop trail 9 amazing saguaros Canyon loop trail begins view of Santa Catalina Mountains

 

Gates Pass is famous as a place to watch sunsets. There are always many people gathered there to watch sunsets, often from other countries.  You reach it by driving out Speedway, heading west, and that becomes Gates Pass Road. It is quite a curvy road and often has bicyclists on it so be careful.  It is best to get there early to find parking. You then scramble up in any direction and find a place to sit to watch the beauty revealed in another gorgeous desert sunset.  My son and I used to come here almost daily when he was young. It was a great ending to our days.

Gates Pass 1 March 12 2013 Gates pass 3 March 12 2013

 

Another new discovery was the Honey Bee Canyon south and north trails. I went out here several times as it was an easy hike.  When you combine both hikes it adds up to 4.8 miles.  The South hike winds along a trail, through an old dam into the canyon, through a wash, up over a hill and around through a wash and back, passing many old Saguaro Cactus. I found this awesome Saguaro with a large number of arms and another that had all these arms pointed down, like a ballerina’s skirt. The north hike takes you through a wash and you run across some old Anasazi petroglyphs.  I often saw bunnies along the trail.  There are reports of people seeing cougars.

Honey Bee Trail take two strange hole Honey Bee trail 1 south loop March 16 2013 Honey bee trail 6 petroglyphs north wash trail Honey Bee trail take two interesting cactus March 24 2013 Honey Bee Trail take two Saguaro with most arms Honey Bee Trail take two south trail Honey Bee Canyon

Another old favorite is Lake Patagonia.  When I used to live in Tucson in the mid-late 80’s, I used to go down there alot to hike, canoe, swim and even camped there one night. I challenged myself and swam across the lake and back one time.  It is famous for it’s birding and was recently seen in a movie with Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson.  One side of the lake is allowed for motored boats and the other non-motors.  You drive down like you are going to Nogales, and turn left and follow the signs to Lake Patagonia.  A friend went with me in April and we tried out a new hike in the preserve that is north of the lake. At first we lost the trail and ran across a geocache box. That was exciting as I had run into  a couple hiking on another hike and they had talked of geocaching.  The water was too cold to swim in but my friend and I rented a double kayak and kayaked around the lake. It was very windy, so challenging, but still great to be on the water. The hike was 3 miles long and led us up and down and up and down various hills and past stands of cottonwood trees. The hawks were flying over us.

Lake Patagonia 7 inlet on Lake Lake Patagoia April 5 2013 1 north part of lake Lake Patagonia 6 Remnants of river

 

The Loma Verde Trail is part of an extensive set of trails in Saquaro National Forest east, on the east side of Tucson.  I reached it by driving out Speedway until it dead ends.  I know I’d hiked out there before but found new trails this time.  A friend and I went and hiked for a couple hours just before sunset. The Saguaro cactus aren’t as prolific as on the west side but it is still a very pretty and varied area next to the Rincon mountains.

Loma Verde trail 2 Loma Verde trail Saguara National forest east March 10 2013 1

 

I never tire of driving to Mt. Lemmon.  It takes about an hour to get there and drive to the top but you end up driving through all these different climates.  You get there by driving out Tanque Verde Road going east and take the Catalina Hwy left driving up switchbacks to the top. It is so beautiful and different at every turn. There are numerous hikes along the way.  I once did a hike starting on the side of the mountain and ending going down the Sabino Canyon  7 Falls trail, an 8 mile trail that my then 4 year old son did with me and two of my friends.  I have been on other hikes on the way to Mt. Lemmon but my favorite is the Aspen loop trail.  To access it, you drive to the top of the mountain, past the ski resort and town of Sumerhaven until the road dead ends in a parking lot. I took the Marshal Gulch trail going counter clockwise (much easier than going the other direction).  The trail gains about 560 in elevation and the loop is 3.9 miles, up along a stream through forests and up a mountain, across and around and then down through an aspen grove.  There was a big fire a few years ago so many of the pine trees were burned but there is a sweet crop of newly growing pine and aspen trees.

 

Mt Lemon climbing Marshal Gulch trail Mt Lemon 6 new growth Mt Lemon 8 view from the top Aspen trail

 

Pima Canyon is a hike I used to do a lot and I did when I first got back to Tucson in March.  It is on the north side of Tuscon up against the south side of the Santa Catalina mountains.  The views from it are pretty. It is an uphill hike, reached by driving out 1st. ave north.

Pima canyon 2 looking south Pima Canyon 1

 

Another new hike for me was to go to Saguaro National Park West and combine a few trails. There is a fee to enter this park. i combined the Valley view trail, a gently uphill trail to wonderful views; turning back and following it back to catch the Wild dog trail out and back and then going back to the beginning of the valley view trail to catch the Bajaha wash trail, walking through the wash; then I hiked out to the road and walked back uphill to my car, a 5 mile combo.  I got to the park by going out Gates Pass road then following the signs to Saguaro National Park west.

Valley view trail 8 onto Wild dog trail Valley View  trail 1 Saguaro National park west March 13 2013 Valley view trail 3 over look west Valley view trail 4 over look south

 

Another new trail in Saquaro National Park East was the Wildhorse trail combined with some other trails to create a loop. It was a challenging hike for me because it was hot and I was tired after 1 mile of going gently uphill and  I pushed myself to finish the 5.2 miles of trails up a mountain, around next to a an old dam, down the hill, in and out of various washes, which makes walking a little more challenging.  It was quite pretty though, hiking in the foothills of the Rincon mountains.

Wildhorse trail 3 canyon off switchbacks Wildhorse trail 1 Wildhorse trail 2 vista

 

The Cougar trail was at the edge of the Saguaro National park west, not in the park but next to it.  The hike leads you through the foothills of the mountains and to the Desert museum (a wonderful museum).  I got started a little late and ran into a wonderful couple on the trail and we ended up chatting for an hour.  They told me about geocaching.  It was hot and so by the time I got to the end of the trail, I didn’t have the energy to go back the way I had come so chose instead to make my way to the road and walk back that way.  It wasn’t the safest way to go as the road is quite windy with very little shoulder, so sometimes I’d have to just step into the desert, off the road when I could hear and see cars coming around the curves towards me, but it was a flatter hiking choice and I made it back to my car safely. I found this great “stegasaurus” looking cactus on my hike and a pretty blooming cactus next to the side of the road.

Cougar trail Saguro Natl park west Stegasaurus cactus March 26 2013 Cougar trail Saguaro Natl park west roadside wild flowers

 

And lastly, after walking up and down Tucson Blvd. I found the house that my Mom’s father had built for them when she was about 8, around 1928, when Tucson blvd. was the edge of town.

Mom's childhood home Tucson Blvd.

 

The heat in Tucson gets to be a bit much for me so I haven’t chosen to move back there but it will always hold a place in my heart and a place i will go back to for all it’s beautiful hikes and what an easy town is to get around!

Canyon Ranch, Tucson, AZ

In Dec. I went with a friend to tour Canyon Ranch. We received an extensive tour, with a wonderful young man leading the way. He had been working there a little while and loved working there, was pleased with how supported he felt there, how much they encouraged him to grow.

Canyon Ranch was created by it’s owner who still lives in a home on the property, right a midst the rest of the offered lodgings. I was impressed with this.  There are several Canyon ranch facilities in different locations including 2 resorts, one hotel and spa in Florida, and 3 spa clubs at other hotels.  I liked the concept of this family starting this one resort and seeing how much it has grown and expanded to other locations. That must be quite fulfilling. Canyon Ranch Tucson was originally a working ranch, then from the 1930’s to 1970’s, it was a guest ranch.  It now consists of 200 acres including a housing development with the owners able to have access to the spa and activities.

It is nestled at the south side of the Santa Catalina Mountains, near Sabino Canyon.   Facilities include regular rooms to a  2700 sq. feet 2 bdr. home.  The rates are all inclusive and include use of all classes, meals, facilities. They start at $3030 for 4 nights, including $650 service allowance to $6500 for 4 days, depending upon room size chosen.  One of the great room amenities is your choice of pillows from the 20 pillow menu.  for someone who has purchased numerous therapeutic pillows and even attempted to make my own pillow, I loved this offering. The young man told us that there are people who come and stay for a month at a time or more, no matter the cost.

There are 4 swimming pools, including a watsu pool and aquatic therapy pools.  There are three food venues, with all nutritional information and ingredients listed on the menus, with various diet restrictions honored. There are regular cooking classes to teach guests how to cook using more healthy ingredients. No alcohol is served but you are allowed to bring alcohol with you and consume it in your room. The resort is a cell phone free zone.

Their spa, salon, and fitness facilities are VERY extensive, including a large staff of medical professionals, MD’s, chiropractic, acupuncturists, hypnotherapists and others.  You are able to choose your therapies or join in one of the various programs.  There is even a gait and footwear analysis.  The spa also has metaphysical offerings including astrology, tarot, clairvoyant readings, crystal energy sessions, Feng Shui, handwriting analysis, and numerology.  There are various spiritual programs, life enhancement programs and creative arts activities.

While I was there they were building a new ropes course to include in their fitness programs and business offerings.  They have hikes, horse back riding and other outdoor activities.

I was having such a good time on the tour that I only took a few pictures afterwards, so am including a few pictures from their website instead.

canyon ranch main canyon ranch pool canyon ranch room canyon ranch rope course Canyon ranch spiritual canyon ranch

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