|Tuscon Round Trip
Tucson and The Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum<
284 Miles/458 Kilometers Round Trip.
Among the oldest European settlements in Arizona, Tucson is the state's second largest city. The downtown presidio was built by the Spaniards in 1776 and is part of a walking historical tour. The Arizona Heritage Center has exhibits portraying the city's and state's past. Nearby, at the University of Arizona, is a major world center for astronomy which includes the Flandrau Planetarium. Tucson is also the location of the prestigious Museum of Art and Center for Creative Photography.
Originally built in 1939 as a set for the epic film Arizona, Old Tucson has since been the location for many feature films, including John Wayne's Rio Bravo, and television series such as Little House on the Prairie and High Chaparral . The narrow-gauge railroad, stagecoach rides, staged gunfights and old saloon are among Old Tucson's attractions.
Mission San Xavier del Bac.
Fondly known as the "White Dove of the Desert," this exquisite building is acclaimed to be the best example of Spanish mission architecture in the United States. It resides on the San Xavier Indian Reservation, and still serves the Tohono O'Odham people for whom it was built by Franciscan friars in the late 1700's.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
The New York Times has called this museum "the most distinctive zoo in the United States," and the "BBC" has chosen it as one of the world's seven best zoos. It is an innovative and exciting mix of zoo, botanical garden and aquarium, with a mission to tell the story of the Sonoran Desert.
Among the exhibits are the Earth Sciences Center, which illustrates the dynamic forces that shaped the desert, and unique habitats that enable visitors to see wild desert creatures exactly as they live, even underground.
Saguaro National Park.
Saguaro National Park is comprised of two areas, located on the east and west sides of Tucson. This park is a preserve for the giant saguaro cacti which are native only to Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. Also known as "Sentinels of the Desert," the saguaros grow so thick and close together in some places that it is difficult to walk between them. Both areas offer loop drives, hiking and bike trails.