Few cities in the United States cover more territory than Tucson. The volcanic valley floor seen above is roughly 30 miles square. That's 900 square miles. And it doesn't include the surrounding communities that comprise the metro area of Tucson. Those include Sahuarita and Green Valley to the south, and Marana, Oro Valley and Catalina to the northwest.
Four mountain ranges surround the Tucson valley. To the north, the Santa Catalinas, seen above (left,) rise to nearly 10,000 feet.
This photo on the left shows the Tucson valley floor from the vantage point of a trail near the top of the Catalinas near Summerhaven, on Mt. Lemmon.
In the background of the photo you can see the mountain range south of the valley. These are the Santa Ritas, topping out with Mount Wrightson (Old Baldy) at 9,250 feet.
The rock in these two mountain ranges is largely granite and metamorphic gneiss.
A 26 mile drive from the valley floor to the top of the Catalinas along the Catalina highway will take you through every eco-system you would encounter driving from northern Mexico to Canada. It's a beautiful drive. And at the top, you'll find the southerly most ski area in North America: Mount Lemmon Ski Valley. A ski lift? They've got one. Although the area gets 15 feet of snow per year, the skiing weather is usually mild enough for a sweater.
The eastern boundry of the Tucson valley is the Rincon Mountain range. I took this photo (above) on an unusual foggy morning from a distance of thirty miles. I was at the top of the Ajo pass in the Tucson mountains looking east just after sunrise. On the other side of that range are the Galiuros, a designated wilderness range. The Galiuro Wilderness area is the least traveled wilderness area in the United States, according to the National Park Service. That ought to appeal to some of you. Come visit!
The Tucson Mountain range defines Tucson's western boundry. My Darlin' and I call the Tucson Mountains our home, and let me tell you, it's one of the most beautiful places you can imagine.
- Saguaro National Park (west) is in the Tucson Mountains.
- So is the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, one of the ten best zoos in the world.
- And don't forget Old Tucson Studios, home to every western movie sporting one or more saguaro cacti.
Tucson has all the amenities you would want in a resort destination, but we're still the Old Pueblo, and this is still the wild west!
Call me if I can help you with a mortgage to buy your next house:
City of Tucson photo courtesy Wikipedia
All others copyright Mike in Tucson (all rights reserved)