Skip to main content

When in Tucson (Northbound)

Following on from last week's post, let's head north from Tucson to see what other activities await. I talked about the Biosphere 2 in a previous post, so here five new ideas.

1) Civil War battle site at Picacho Peak. Yep, way out here in Arizona. Three soldiers died (Union), five were wounded (both sides), and three were captured (Confederate). Is that enough to call it a "battle"? Even if you're not interested in this little bit of history, the hikes in this state park offer sweeping views of the saguaro-filled valley. The park is halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, so if you travel that route frequently, seems a shame not to visit at least once.

canon and cactus

valley of saguaro cacti in front of a mountain

2) Take a driverless car. Waymo is real, though not "live", transportation option in Chandler, where I spent a weekend with some friends who live there. I did not take the driverless car - though we thought about it because it is much cheaper than Lyft or Uber - but we did see some driving (themselves) around town. The lack of control makes me nervous and the Tesla crash story had just come out. I wasn't really feeling submission to our robot overlords. So here is a video not of me, but of the friends I visited using Waymo on a previous occasion. 

3) See what happens to unwanted airplanes. This place is largely an airplane graveyard, though some planes are there only for temporary storage, especially in the time of corona. The video below shows just one of three yards that we saw, and the planes go back for many more rows than are visible. It felt like a military installation of some kind, though security appeared far more lax.

4) Swim in some incredible lakes. Yes, there is water in Arizona in a few places. This is the stunning Canyon Lake, which we were entirely unprepared for, as you can see by our hiking outfits only and lack of swimwear. Like anywhere beautiful that you want to enjoy, plan to arrive very early in the morning to claim your space. This was just a small spot off the side of the road we pulled over at, though there were proper beaches and amenities.

lake in the mountains

two women sitting on rocks near a lake

5) Go spelunking. I've wanted to get back underground since my caving partner from West Virginia gifted me knee pads for Christmas. And here was my chance - Peppersauce Cave. It takes over an hour to get to from Tucson, circling round the Catalina mountains to the quirkly little town of Oracle. Two families were in the first chamber, people trying to go in with only the lights on their cell phones and wearing flip flops. They didn't make it far. Deeper in, we encountered only a boy and his father looking for the geocache, so essentially we had the place to ourselves to explore. There are numerous chambers, some tight squeezes, and a room with a lake and a rope you can use to safely get down to it. If you have proper caving gear, you can go much further. While we were more prepared than most people with our helmets, we didn't have ropes and other gear to way back in there. Next time!

woman in a cave opening

man going through tight opening in a cave

man going into a lake in a cave

crevasse in a cave