Tucson Mt, Gilbert Ray CG, AZ Sonora Desert Museum

Trip Start Feb 09, 2013
Trip End Jun 30, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday, April 7 – We left Benson and headed west on interstate 10 and one we reached Tucson we headed west towards the Tucson Mountains and Saguaro National Park West. Heading up the mountains the landscape really changed and there were Saguaro's everywhere.  Check in to the Gilbert Ray Campground which is a first come first serve park with great views of the mountains and desert.  The park is in a desert but it has Saguaro’s all around it.  There were a number of hikers and bikers on the roads.  I reviewed the campground below but it is really nice.

   The Saguaro National Park West and East has Giant Saguaro’s which are the  universal symbol of the American West.  These plants are only found in a small portion of the US and this National Park protects some of the most impressive forests of these sub-tropical giants just outside Tucson.

  We headed up about a mile and half to Arizona Sonora Desert Museum which is in the west part of the Saguaro National Park.  This is one of the top attractions in AZ and we could see why.  This museum is mostly outside but with a lot of exhibits.  It exhibits more than 300 live animal species such as Javelina’s, Lobos, Coyotes, Big Cats, Mountain Lion, rattlesnakes, Prairie Dogs, Bighorn Sheep, Birds, Hummingbirds and Raptors.  There are over two miles of trails very nicely laid out some shaded and some in the sun and along the way there are some snacks places, water coolers, rest rooms and a number of places to sit down.  Very well designed.  You walk through different landscapes containing more than 1,300 species of plants found in the  Sonoran Desert.  Different regions like grasslands, cactus and desert gardens.  There are shows like the Raptor Flights and some others all posted on the day that you visit.  There is a limestone cave which displays gems and minerals.  George loved the exhibit showing a variety of live rattlesnakes.

  One of the most interesting exhibits was the Hummingbird sections.  You could see Hummingbirds right in front of you almost looking you in the eyes.  We saw a number of nests with eggs and we even saw a nest with babies in it and the mother was feeding them.  Linda Dandrow would have loved this exhibit!

  We spent most of the afternoon there before we headed back to our campground.  There is so much to choose from in the Tucson Area and we didn’t visit much of time restraints the AZ State Museum, The Mission San Xavier, Old Tucson Park and the Titan Missile Park in the area.  There is even a museum that shows all the moth balled airplanes that the government does not want.  Tomorrow we head to Saguaro National Park East, Sabino Canyon and then to our campground Catalina State Park.

Weather Report:  The last few days it has been hot here in the 90’s and yet the nights are cold.  Tomorrow there is a big wind storm coming in so it might change our plans.  The winds are going to be as high as 60 miles per hour.

Sunday, April 7 – Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson Mountain Park, Tucson, AZ    This campground is to the west of Tucson, you drive Kinney Road and then take McCain Loop Road (RV’s are not to drive the Gates Pass Road over the Mts. to Tucson). Just north of the campground is Saguaro National Park West.  The campground is a County Park and it is set in the desert with the mountains in the distance and Saguaro’s throughout the landscape.  When you drive in, there was a host at the check in booth that assigned us a site ($20) but she would be leaving in a week then it will be self register only until next winter.  The sites are laid out in three loops all with electric but no water.  The views are beautiful from all the sites.  Make sure you fill up with water before you come but there is a spot for filling up and also a dump station.  Water spigots are all over this park about every three sites if you need water.  There were bath houses (no showers) and recycling bins.  Their two busiest months are February and March but the host said you can find a site on most nights.  A mile and half up Kinney Road there is a must stop to visit the AZ Sonora Desert Museum.  This is one of the top attractions in AZ.  It costs about $15 to get in but you can spend all day here and the museum is mostly outdoors with plenty of shade spots, water and restrooms.  There are animals found in the desert, animal keeper interactions, flowers of the desert, restaurants, gardens, aviary, shows, a raptor flying show and so much more.  The museum has been around for sixty years.   There are a lot of places to hike and bike!
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phyllis on

hi,i'm enjoying your trip right along with you.I haven't been to any of these places and I love to see it through your eyes.enjoy !!!!Phyllis

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