Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Moving closer to Tucson

We waved goodbye to Pronghorns in Las Cienegas National Conservation area, and headed up closer to Tucson, on the west side.

We've stayed before at Snyder Hill,  and find it fine for one night stands, but a way too close to the highway for my liking, and too crowded, with not much level land to park on for a more extended stay.  So - we researched a bit on the Ironwood Forest National Monument, and stayed on the edge of it once several years ago.  It is a huge area of 129,000 acres with various points of access, a variety of terrain, and quite close to the city of Tucson.  We found ourselves a great spot, with only one other rig about a half mile away!

There is a gate at the entry point of the National Monument, but not the type that collects entry fees.  This gate is to keep the cattle from escaping!
One of the best parts about this part of the monument is how completely quiet it is.  It seems like most of the land between it and civilization is owned by the city of Tucson.  And I'm guessing all they own it for is to collect the water from it.  So there are hundreds if not thousands of acres of fenced, uninhabited land bordering the national monument!  That means that the nearest houses, and traffic are about 3 miles away!  Other than quite a few light planes approaching the nearby airport, it is a very deserted spot!  My kind of place :-)
We spent a fair bit of time here, while taking advantage of being close to the city.
Of course, it helps if you don't mind a few bovine visitors from time to time!

And some of them came by to keep Hailey company, when I was gone to town one day!

My camp was only about 4 miles from the edge of the west block of Saguaro National Park, which has some amazing scenery, cactus, and lots of hiking trails.

It's also very close to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, where these Javelina were enjoying a nap in the sun.

Gilbert Ray County campground is also in the immediate area, if you prefer a few more amenities - and less cows!
I was there for a few days before I discovered the best and fastest route into the city of Tucson - the Gates Pass Road.  It is very scenic, steep in places, and winding a bit, and is NOT suitable to large RV's and and trailers.

Gates Pass Road, Gilbert Ray campground and much of the surrounding area that is not in the national park, is in Pima County's Tucson Mountain park.

Gates Pass summit area.
I saw a couple of gates in the area that were not intended to be rammed open with a vehicle!

I've been to the Titan Missile Museum south of Tucson in the past, but I didn't realize that there were multiple missile sites scattered throughout the area.  Earlier, I found one on a portion of the Old Sonoita road just off highway 83, south-east of Tucson - I think it is now the site of a county gravel pit!  Then I discovered another one within the Ironwood Forest National Monument.  The actual site has been pretty much reclaimed, but there are a number of informative plaques and diagrams showing where everything was, and includes quite a few historical photos of the site when it was in operation.

I guess that brings the blog a bit closer to being up to date - but there's still a ways to go.  Next, we head over into California to one of our favourite spots in the southern end of Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  Stay tuned!