We spent a chunk of winter in Arizona and found our way to the Tucson area. We found this to be a great docking location, with plenty of nearby camping (especially in the National Forests just a few hours north of the city) and an amazing astronomical vibe (we’ll get to this in a bit) and all of that sunshine!
There’s a lot of free things to do around this town. There’s also Saguaro National Park, which is literally about 20 minutes or so from town. Within a short drive you’ll be there. Yes, there is wildlife to see, too. We saw Javelinas (aka Collared Pecarries), a wild pig, and coyotes. The dogs found a skunk (that’s a whole other stinky tale), and there are mountain lions, wolves, ringtail cats, the possible jaguar siting, rattlesnakes, Africanized honey bees and lots of other interesting species to find here. And when you’re in town, there are some great city parks to explore, as well. It’s also a mecca for rockhounders. Seriously, there’s lot’s of rockhounding opportunities and even rockhounding events. Apparently, there’s a gem and mineral show around February that we will sadly miss. But, we’ll get our rock hunting fix because there’s lots of active and inactive mines to explore in the greater area and a long list of minerals to go hunt.
And now for the astronomy! The city is a headquarters for the International Dark Sky movement. What’s that, you ask? It is about conservation, but a different kind than you may be familiar with. This time it’s all about conserving . . . you guessed it – Dark Skies! It’s about reducing the ever-growing amounts of light pollution that interfere with stargazing and astronomical sciences. The area has several observatories that help advance our astronomy knowledge. The University of Arizona has several astronomy and physics programs involved in this research, too. And they offer FREE lectures at the university.