A while back, we wrote an article to help those First Time Visitors to Tucson. As the weather warms, we suggest a few hidden adventures that those of you who live in or near Tucson may have never heard of; or may have not gotten to yet. When we first arrived in Tucson, it was several years before we heard of these places. That is why they are included. We hope that this will provide some impetus to branch out and do something out of the ordinary. For a beautiful slideshow of hidden treasures and attractions visit Hidden Treasures here. Here is our list:
Hikers & Birders
Brandenburg Station Aravaipa Canyon West Entrance. Camp at the entrance, stay at the Aravaipa Farms Guest Ranch or hike in a bit and camp.
Klondyke Station – Our choice for “Camping”. All equipped cabin. They have what you forgot to bring.
Muleshoe Ranch Preserve – Lovely place if you like your nature with amenities.
Carr Canyon – Perhaps everyone has heard of Ramsey Canyon, part of the Nature Conservancy. Right down the road to the next canyon is Carr Canyon, a bit rougher, but more enjoyable in its own way. You feel like the discovery is yours. Head to the top and you will find a wonderful area called Reef Townsite Campground. You will need a high clearance vehicle. Great Camping, definitely cooler. Bring a picnic lunch. Click to Continue Reading
The Battle of Picacho Peak is re-enacted every Spring at Picacho Peak State Park.
The Pinal County Historical Museum – Chock full of memorabilia. A small museum, nonetheless important.
Picacho Peak Civil War Reenactment – Come on out. Spend the day. Usually happens in March, unless State Park budgets are cut.
Casa Grande National Memorial – Surprisingly interesting. We avoided it for many years but are now fans.
Slaughter House Ranch Museum – Just about the furthest south and east in Arizona you can get without crossing the International Border. The Slaughter Ranch has an interesting history. Great site for a picnic.
Faraway Ranch – Part of the Chiricahua National Monument. Do take the tour.
Ft. Bowie National Historical Park. – Hugely important historically. A small, but interesting visitor center plus a couple of picnic tables overlooking the ruins.
Tucson History Museum – Located in the Wells Fargo Building downtown and sponsored by the Arizona Historical Society, this is a small but important museum revealing much of Tucson’s early history.
Titan Missile Museum – So maybe you have heard of this sister of the Pima Air and Space Museum. But have you been there? Preserved to remember the Cold War. Totally worthwhile. Like nothing you’ve ever experienced.
Arizona Folklore Preserve – Open weekends seasonally. Celebrates Western & Folk Music in a unique & intimate venue. Very special. Make a reservation.
Gammons Gulch – Jay Gammon and his wife have lovingly recreated an Old West town. Call first to see if they are still giving tours.
Mescal – The poor sister of Tucson Studios, Mescal occasionally gives public tours. Recently it was the site of an upcoming Western.
Ruby – Ruby is ramshackle and haunting. There is a book about it and a caretaker on the property. Our best-preserved ghost town. Good picnic area down by the lake.
Fairbank. What’s left of this ghost town is being preserved. Also, several pleasant hikes from here to the ruins of other mill towns such as Contention City. These places were very important back in the day when the Tombstone mines were producing.
And Kentucky Camp, with a very nice cabin for rent from the National Park Service.
Museums You May Not Have Heard Of..
And if you have heard of them, you may have passed them up. They are worthwhile. Some are small venues, niche museums, on vertical topics, like transportation in Tucson, and how Tucson grew from a tiny, dusty Mexican village.
Amerind Foundation Museum – The Amerind stands for the Museum of the American Indian. It is Internationally famous for its collections of pottery and baskets. The Amerind also includes a small but valuable collection of Western Art. It is located in scenic Texas Canyon, a bit of a hike from Tucson, (Benson) but well worth the trip.
Mineral Discovery Center A fine visitor center with exhibits and a mine tour that are most enlightening.
Gadsden Pacific Toy Train Museum – Open to the public once in a while (once a month) but definitely worth it.
Transportation Museum – A little museum that explains the 1880 event that changed everything.
Museum of Miniatures Sure you have heard of it. But have you been? Amazing craftsmanship & imagination. Delightful for all ages.
Museum of the Horse Soldier This museum is now closed to the public.
Franklin Automobile Museum – Art on wheels. Open by appointment.
International Wildlife Museum – You probably passed it on your way to the Desert Museum? It’s the Castle on the north side of Gates Pass. Drop in. It’s cool inside. It’s amazing natural history!
These are mostly driving adventures. Here are some of the best we have found.
Mt. Graham – You’ve been to Mt. Lemmon. In another hour, you could experience Mt. Graham. Narrower road, fewer people. No village at the top. No restaurant. Just hiking and camping, and a lake. Closed after November 15th until April. Summer is the time to go. Delightfully cool.
Whipple Observatory near Tubac. The tour to the telescopes at the top of Mt. Hopkins is a five-hour affair. But the visitor center at the bottom of the mountain is really interesting. Plus they have a nice picnic area and a short nature trail.
Duncan, Clifton, Morenci. – Definitely more than a day trip from Tucson, so few Tucsonans have ventured out this far. Since the turn of the previous century, not much has changed. More civil perhaps. Mining is still foremost. While there, be sure to travel the Back Country Byway. The Gila River runs through here. Stop at the Gila Box for a cool picnic.
We could go on, but this will do for starters.
If you know of a Special Place that you want to share, drop us a line.