A Three Day Trip to Southeastern Arizona

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Road From Portal Into The Chiricahua Mountains

Road From Portal Into The Chiricahua Mountains. Excellent Campgrounds, Birdwatching.

This Scenic Backroad Trip just grazes what there is to see and do in Southeastern Arizona. To do it right, we might live there for a few years. Mind you, this country is still as Old West as you can get. Read on for our initial adventure to one of the hinterlands of Arizona.

Road Trip – Day 2/Morning: Faraway Ranch In Chiricahua National Monument

Cliffs Above Road From Portal To Chiricahua National Monument

Day One
This is a continuation of my post about our April 2012 tour of Southeast Arizona. On day-one, we visited the ghost towns of Pearce, Courtland, and Gleeson east of Tombstone with a short side trip to Rattlesnake Crafts & Rocks. Then we continued south to the Slaughter Ranch east of Douglas, then north, ending the first day at Portal Peak Lodge in Portal, AZ. Here we eat in the cafe, slept in a small room, and most importantly, acquired a 25¢ map that showed the back road over the mountain.

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Book Early for our First Santa Cruz River Valley Tour

Mission Tumacacori

Southern Arizona Guide Presents The Santa Cruz River Valley Tour Join us Wednesday, November 12, 2014 for a pleasant day trip through the Santa Cruz River Valley and discover its rich history, cultural heritage, unique landscape, and distinctive foods. Your guide for the day will be Jim Gressinger, travel writer, photographer, … Continue reading

Historic Downtown Tucson: A Collection of Picture Postcards

Tucson, Arizona: 2013.

As a “city”, Tucson really came into its own in the first decade of the 20th century, even though the city was legally incorporated in 1877. It never amounted to anything of importance until the Southern Pacific Railroad arrived in 1880. The railroad connected Tucson to the outside world. It brought hardware, lumber, and fresh produce at affordable prices. Even today, you can see how the architecture of the city changed after the arrival of the railroad. 

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Tucson Attractions: The Ones Few People Know About!


Locals are generally familiar with our major Tucson and Southern Arizona attractions, such as our fantastic Desert Museum & the beautiful gardens of Tohono Chul Park. You can find the ones we recommend under “Attractions” in the Main Menu. However, very few locals know about or have been to the … Continue reading

The New Desert Museum Aquarium

Boy Watching Seahorses

On a clear Sunday morning in early February, Neighbor Roy, Ms. Karen, & I arrived at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for our 2nd Behind The Scenes tour, this time of the new Warden Aquarium. Lacey was our guide for our group of 8, including two little boys who looked to be about 4 and 6 […]

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Slideshow: Things to Do and See in Southern Arizona

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This slideshow will introduce you to some of the sights and scenes from Southern Arizona and stories about those places. Clicking on a slide that interests you will transport you to a story about a destination or adventure.

Map of the Counties In Southern Arizona thumbnail
Saguaro National Park Visitors Center thumbnail
El Presidio deTucson thumbnail
Introduction to Tombstone today thumbnail
Tombstone's Historic Bird Cage Theatre thumbnail
Tombstone, The Town Too Tough to Die thumbnail
Bandit Outfitters at Colossal Cave Mountain Park thumbnail
Sabino Canyon Waterfall thumbnail
Tohono Chul Cactus Bloom thumbnail
Summer Tanager in Ramsey Canyon thumbnail
Dr Jay's Walking Tour  thumbnail
Wildflowers in the Tucson Mountains thumbnail
Desert Museum Harris's Hawk thumbnail
Signal Hill Petroglyph thumbnail
The Artists Co-op in Arivaca thumbnail
Bisbee, AZ thumbnail
Broad-billed Hummingbird: Ramsey Canyon thumbnail
Ski Valley  Mt. Lemmon thumbnail
Titan II Missile Museum thumbnail
La Posta Quemada Ranch thumbnail
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun thumbnail
Kitt Peak Observatories thumbnail
Horsehead Nebula thumbnail
Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures thumbnail
Mission San Xavier del Bac thumbnail
Mission Tumacacori thumbnail
Old Tucson Reenactment thumbnail
Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge thumbnail
Allen Street, Tombstone Arizona circa 1880 thumbnail
Arizona Historical Society thumbnail
The Road to Mt. Lemmon thumbnail
The Ghost Town of Ruby, Arizona thumbnail
Map of the Counties In Southern Arizona
Saguaro National Park Visitors Center
Presidio San Agustin deTucson
Introduction to Tombstone Today
Tombstone's Hstoric Bird Cage Theatre circa 1936.
Tombstone, The Town Too Tough to Die
Bandit Outfitters at Colossal Cave Mountain Park
Sabino Canyon Waterfall
Tohono Chul Cactus Bloom
Summer Tanager in Ramsey Canyon
Dr Jay's Walking Tour
Wildflowers in the Tucson Mountains
Desert Museum Harris's Hawk
Signal Hill Petroglyph
The Artists Co-op in Arivaca
Bisbee, Arizona
Broad-billed Hummingbird: Ramsey Canyon
Ski Valley Mt. Lemmon
Titan II Missile Museum
La Posta Quemada Ranch
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
Kitt Peak Observatories
Horsehead Nebula
Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
Mission San Xavier del Bac
Mission Tumacacori
Old Tucson Reenactment
Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
Allen Street, Tombstone Arizona circa 1880
Arizona Historical Society
The Road to Mt. Lemmon
The Ghost Town of Ruby, Arizona

Visitors Center: Saguaro National Park West on a rare rainy day.

Located a few miles past the Desert Museum, the Visitors Center is the place to go for useful and interesting information about our Sonoran Desert, maps to back roads and hiking trails, and many good books on related subjects.

A Spanish Soldado at El Presidio de Tucson

Our historic Spanish fort in the downtown Tucson historic district is open to the public and periodically features reenactments, including canon fire. To learn more, please see our video.

Introduction to Tombstone Today

You can have a lot of fun in Tombstone. If you visit its shops, historic saloons, and many attractions, you'll meet a lot of friendly people, many of whom look like they just stepped out of the 1880's and into the present. Enjoy!

Tombstone's Historic Bird Cage Theatre circa 1936.

The Bird Cage is living history. A raucous saloon & gambling hall in the 1880's, where ladies of negotiable affection plied their ancient trade among the more successful miners and gamblers. Please see our video and meet Bird Cage Billie. Then take the worthwhile $10 tour.

Tombstone, The Town Too Tough to Die.

Depression-era photographs of Tombstone reveal the hard times. "The Town Too Tough To Die" almost did. Today, it's tourism, not silver, that keeps our Wild West history alive. Be sure to view our several videos about Tombstone and its legendary characters, such as Virgil Earp and Tom McLaury. Then visit Tombstone's Historic District. Don't miss the Courthouse Museum on Toughnut Street or the Bird Cage Theater on Allen Street, or the office of the Tombstone Epitaph on 5th Street.

Bandit Outfitters at Colossal Cave Mountain Park

Another great day trip from Tucson. Here you can trail ride through magnificent scenery plus host special events, such as weddings, corporate gatherings, & family reunions with an Old West theme.

A Waterfall In Sabino Canyon

Hiking Sabino Canyon is one of Tucson's most delightful day trips. Take the tram (cash only), get off & on at the various stops along the way. Hike adjacent Bear Canyon to Seven Falls were you can cool off in the pools at the base of the falls. Picnics here are highly recommended. And yes, these are two of our four grandchildren: Morgan (left) and Jon.

Tohono Chul Park: a night-blooming cereus.

Tohono Chul Park, one of our favorite places in Tucson, is home to a wide variety of night-bloomers. You can learn a lot about this beautiful place by viewing our video.

Summer Tanager in Ramsey Canyon

Courtesy of Liz Sockness, Ramsey Canyon Visitor Center. Like Madera Canyon to the west, Ramsey Canyon is a birdwatcher's paradise.

Dr Jay's Walking Tour

We highly recommend Dr. Jay's Walking Tour of Tombstone. On the Tour, which lasts about an hour, you will learn why the facts surrounding this fabled Old West town are far more interesting than the legends.

Wildflowers in the Tucson Mountains

In the Spring, we get fields of wildflowers if the Rain God has been generous the previous Fall. Arivaca & Picacho Peak are particularly known for their carpets of color. This photograph was taken just up the street from our home in the foothills of the Tucson Mountains.

A Desert Museum Docent with Male Harris's Hawk.

At the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum many docents help visitors understand our weird plants and exotic critters. Don't miss the Free Flight Program when you visit. Their raptors and other birds fly just over your head. Be quick with your camera. On our Guide you will find several original Desert Museum videos.

Signal Hill Petroglyphs by John Ashley.

There are many petroglyphs located around our desert & mountains. Perhaps the easiest to find & admire are atop Signal Hill in the Saguaro National Park West.

Artists Co-op in Arivaca

Arivaca is a small village 20-some miles west of I-19 at Amado. Things not to miss when you visit: Buenas Aires National Wildlife Refuge, La Gitana Cantina, the Artists Co-Op, & Sweat Peas Cafe'.

Bisbee, Arizona

Bisbee was a highly productive copper mining town about a half hour south of Tombstone. Now it's home to old hippies, bikers, and artists. It's shops & galleries are definitely worth visiting. Stay overnight in one of the many historic B&B's, hotels, and inns. There are also many good places to dine. Our recommendations you will find in Main Menu > Reviews.

Broad-billed Hummingbird in Ramsey Canyon

Liz Sockness runs the bookstore at Ramsey Canyon Preserve. We have several of her nature photos in the Guide. Ramsey Canyon near Sierra Vista is a wild and beautiful place to hike. Not many places in the world like this left.

Ski Valley near the top of Mt. Lemmon

Sky Valley is the southern-most ski area in North America. If you go in seasons other than winter, take the chair lift to the rim. The ski trails are full of wildflowers. From the top you can see the whole valley far below.

Titan II Missile Museum

The Titan II is one of the best-kept secrets in Southern Arizona. Few local even know about it. Highly recommended! Please see our video, then go to their website to get current hours of guided tours. I have directed hundreds of people to this incredible place. Every one has thanked me and said, in effect, "I had no idea".

La Posta Quemada Ranch at Colossal Cave Mountain Park.

There are several parts to Colossal Cave Mountain Park. First, there is the cave and a worthwhile guided tour. Second, there is the ranch at the bottom of the mountain that has museums and other historical features. Third, at the ranch you will find Bandit Outfitters and the riding stables. A great place to take the kids and only about 25 miles east of Tucson. Also a fine place to picnic.

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun

One of our finest art museums, the DeGrazia exhibits the original art of Ted DeGrazia in a totally unique facility he designed and built with the help of his Native American friends.

Kitt Peak Observatories

Kitt Peak is about an hour southwest of Tucson. Their night observation program allows visitors to see the heavens as never before. Please watch our Kitt Peak video for more information.

Horsehead Nebula (Cloud)

Southern Arizona is home to many fine observatories. Public stargazing programs are available at both Kitt Peak (see our video) and Sky Center atop Mt. Lemmon. Both programs are excellent.

Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

The Museum of Miniatures is a state-of-the-art facility that houses many fine collections of miniatures with historical themes. The detailed craftsmanship of these miniatures and excellent presentation makes the Mini-Time Machine a worthy visit for children and adults.

Mission San Xavier del Bac a few miles south of Downtown Tucson.

Founded in 1692 by Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino, Mission San Xavier is located a few minutes south of downtown Tucson on the Tohono O'odham reservation. For a visual of the extraordinary, and recently restored interior, see our video. Everyone who comes to Southern Arizona should visit San Xavier (San HAA-vee-air).

Tumacacori National Historical Park

Fifty minutes south of Tucson, the Mission Tumacacori was founded in 1691 by Jesuit Father Eusebio Francisco Kino. It was declared a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908.

Just another wild gunfight in the streets of Old Tucson. Oddly, the good guys always win.

Hundreds of movies, TV shows, and commercials have been shot at Old Tucson. Only a few miles from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, old Tucson is a great place to bring the kids for a day in the life of the Old West. Adults will find this "Western" town both fun and educational as well.

Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

Adjacent to the little town of Arivaca, BANWR is paradise for those who like to watch rare birds and other elusive critters.

Allen Street, Tombstone Arizona circa 1881. Photo courtesy GooseFlat Graphics.

The City of Tombstone was founded in 1879 by Ed Schieffelin, an extraordinarily successful miner. A year later, it had about a thousand residents. Six years later, Tombstone had become a major city with about 14,000 residents. Today, the population is about 1,600, most of whom are dedicated to keeping the Old West alive.

In one of our videos, Julia Arriola, curator of the Arizona Historical Society, talks about some of her excellent exhibits, including Geronimo's rifle and why Geronimo became the "worst Indian who ever lived".

Road To Mount Lemmon

Mr. Woodry's camouflage-yellow Corvette Z06 is parked beneath hoodoos on Catalina Highway, a delightfully narrow, winding road for a high-powered sports car. Finest car I've ever driven. Massively powerful, incredibly fast, but hold the road with amazing precision.

Dr. Clare Zhang (Oriental Medicine) with 10-year-old son Daniel.

Dr. Clare, and several others went with me to do an on-camera interview with Howard Frederick, one of the owners of Ruby. Between a morning tour of Arivaca and photographing the ruins of Ruby in the afternoon, it was a delightful day trip from Tucson.

Carnival of Illusion – Amazing!

Carnival of Illusion Roland Sarlot & Susan Eyed

For some time, Ms. Karen and I had been wanting to see Roland Sarlot’s and Susan Eyed’s Carnival of Illusion. I had read so many rave reviews about their performance that, if the show lived up to the hype, I wanted to add it to our Things To Do In Tucson Section of our website

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Tohono Chul Map

Tohono Chul Park: Spring Wildflowers.

Tohono Chul is a peaceful garden oasis in the midst of city and suburb. You can stroll along winding paths through several different types of gardens with hundreds of native plant species, as well as many birds, including hummers.

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Pima Air and Space Museum Map

Pima Air and Space Museum

Here is the history of manned flight. Pima Air and Space Museum has over 300 historic aircraft on exhibit, including the Blackbird, a 1950’s design that still holds the speed record for coast to coast flight: imagine going from New York to Los Angeles in one hour.

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Mt. Lemmon Map

mt lemmon snow

Mt. Lemmon is a recreational paradise in the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Coronado National Forest. It is 9,157 feet (2,791 m) above sea-level, and receives approximately 180 inches of snow annually. A perfect place for skiing in the winter or camping in the summer, it also has observatories that you can view through a telescope, winter or summer. Other activities are hiking, biking and hanging out to cool off in the summer.

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San Xavier del Bac Map

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Mission San Xavier del Bac is about 15 minutes south of downtown Tucson. It is the finest example of Spanish mission architecture anywhere. It was built in the late 18th century and is today both an important piece of Baja Arizona history and an active Roman Catholic church serving the Tohono O’odham people.

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Guided Tours of Tucson and Southern Arizona

Santa Cruz River Valley Tour at Tumacacori

Hi. I’m Jim Gressinger, travel writer, publisher of Southern Arizona Guide and photographer. I am pleased to be your tour guide to the most beautiful and historic places in Tucson and Southern Arizona. Southern Arizona Guide offers themed tours, usually once or twice a month. See tour descriptions and prices below. … Continue reading

Our Tucson History Tour A Success!

A tour at the Sosa-Carrillo-Fremont House in Tucson

Last Sunday, April 12, 2015, was a very good day for a walking tour of historic Downtown Tucson. The weather was overcast and cool. The 20-some folks on this, our History & Libation Tour, were delightful; all eager to learn more about the Old Pueblo’s illustrious heritage. As tour guide, … Continue reading

A Death In Charleston, Arizona Territory

Tombstone Deputy Sheriff Billy Breakenridge

M. Robert Peel Born: Wednesday, May 31, 1854 Died: Saturday, March 25, 1882 (Charleston, Arizona) – gunshot through the heart Interred: Boothill Graveyard, Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona Occupation: Mineral Surveyor, Mining Engineer Charleston, A.T. (Arizona Territory) was an important Old West town because it was home to the mill workers … Continue reading

Southern Arizona Guide’s Tombstone At Twilight Tour

Allen Street Tombstone Arizona At Night

This Southern Arizona Guide’s Tombstone At Twilight Tour Is April 25th, 2015. I’m Jim Gressinger, travel writer, photographer, and publisher of Southern Arizona Guide. Please join me for an Old West evening like no other. Tombstone, Arizona after sundown is a very different place than Tombstone by daylight. The shops … Continue reading

If You Love Our Desert Museum, Vote For It!

Coyote along the Desert Loop Trail at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

USA Today Nominates the Desert Museum’s Desert Loop Trail For Top 10 Zoo Exhibits in the Country Tucson, AZ (April 8, 2015)—The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is included among 20 of the top zoos in the country whose exhibits were nominated for the USA Today/10Best Zoo Exhibits-Readers Choice Awards announced on … Continue reading

See the Empire 100 Art Show and Sale

Dear Granpa

March 29, 2015. Jim and I wandered off into the Eastern hinterlands (East of Campbell) to peruse the offerings of the Empire Ranch Foundation for its Annual Western Art Show and Sale. In its 15th year, this year the show is at the tony Tucson Desert Art Museum. Dubbed the Empire … Continue reading

Thar’s A New Black Bear In Town!

New black bear at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

This cub was found injured near Payson, AZ last August. She had a broken leg, but is doing very well now. She weights in at 111 pounds as of her debut March 30, 2015. She will probably gain another 100 pounds over the next year. She seems both curious about … Continue reading

A Hike to the Ghost Town of Charleston Arizona Territory

Wells Fargo Building

March 14, 2015 – Having been to many of the more accessible ghost towns, Ms. Rosemary and I (Ms. Karen) decided to hike to the remote ghost town of Charleston Arizona Territory. Led by our docent, Richard Bauer, this was a Friends of the San Pedro River “Members Only” hike, … Continue reading