A rendezvous in the desert – Tucson, AZ

“Welcome to Tucson”, the Saguaro seems to say as it bows

So here we remain, at our “winter headquarters” for this year – Tucson.  The population of over a half million seems to be spread out enough that it usually doesn’t feel too overcrowded, although we do try hard to avoid commute hour traffic when possible.

We love that this city is ringed by mountain ranges offering endless hiking opportunities, especially when combined with the many miles of desert trails in the immediate area.  And we also happen to love the Sonoran Desert!  We’ve stayed in three distinct areas during our visits here, and have always enjoyed the many nearby points of interest.

Tucson, Arizona
Downtown Tucson viewed from Robles Park, with the Catalina Mountains as the backdrop

In January, 2013 we camped at Catalina State Park in northern Tucson (our tales of that stay are here and here).  Returning in January of 2016, we hung out for a month at the Lazy Daze/KOA in southern Tucson (the activities we enjoyed during that stay are detailed here).

 Mission San Xavier del Bac
Looking south toward the Santa Rita Mountains, the “White Dove of the Desert” – Mission San Xavier del Bac – takes center stage
Saguaro National Park
After the movie at the Saguaro National Park visitor center, the theater curtains open to reveal the giants of the Sonoran Desert – the Saguaros
Tucson Mountain Park
Looking down at the Western side of Tucson
The sprawling city of Tucson

So far this year we’ve stayed on the western side of Tucson, one month at Western Way RV Resort and we’re currently residing for a second month at Desert Trails RV Park just up the road.  The choice of these campgrounds was based mainly on their excellent access to the many great hiking trails in Saguaro National Park, Tucson Mountain Park and Robles Park. We wasted no time getting started on those hikes to burn off the mega calories we packed on while partying in Puerto Peñasco.

Saguaro National Park
We always enjoy our treks with serious hikers like Hans and Lisa, this time on the Hugh Norris Trail
Sweetwater Preserve
Investigating a downed Saguaro at Sweetwater Preserve
Brown Mountain Trail
We like nearby Brown Mountain Trail, and have hiked it a couple of times so far
Some Saguaros gave us the finger…
…this one gave us many fingers!
This one could be hundreds of years old
saguaro skeleton
This dead Saguaro looks like a desert scarecrow
Yetman Trail
An early morning hike on the Yetman Trail via Tucson Estates
Tucson Mountains
Tucson Mountains as seen from the Wasson Peak Trail
Crested saguaro
Goofing off with one of Pam’s friends – a crested Saguaro – on the Flight Path Trail

We’ve been here for several weeks now, plenty of time to repeat trails we followed last year and to discover new ones.  For the first time we’ll be staying long enough to catch the colors of spring in the Sonoran Desert, which we’ve missed previously in our haste to head north.

The Ocotillo blossoms provide a splash of red all over the desert, just beautiful!
Crimson red Ocotillo blooms – don’t they look like mini lipsticks?

Creosote bush
Creosote bush swaths the desert a golden hue
A closer look at a creosote bloom


On the desert floor, area sidewalks and vacant lots was a profusion of dainty vibrant wildflowers.  I can’t help but stop, take a picture and admire them:

The birds are also enjoying the blooms, sucking sweet nectar from the flowers and whistling at us as we stroll by:

Of course, mild winters here are the main draw for us and thousands of other “snowbirds”. It’s a place where we congregate to meet up with old friends and make new ones.  I think of our meet-up here as a renewal of our friendships, and it’s always a joy to see those folks to exchange travel stories and the adventures we’ve had on the road during the past year.

Kathie and Mike of Life Rebooted.  We met them last year at Bryce Canyon after following their blog for several months

At the big gathering below, we met Paul and Marsha of Where’s Weaver for the first time. Everyone else were folks we’ve forged relationships with over the years through our blog sites – Hans and Lisa of Metamorphosis Road, John and Pam of Oh the Places They Go and Dave and Sue of Belugas Excellent Adventure.

John, David, Sue, Marsha, Paul, Steve, me, Lisa, Hans and Pam
Me with John and Pam, and “serious Jeep pilots” Joe and Gay of Good Times Rolling
Infected humanoid – stay away!

We’re always excited to meet new friends, but we were sorry we missed out on meeting up with Jim and Barb of Jim and Barb’s RV Adventure.  I was recovering from a flu bug and wasn’t about to risk infecting them.

We spent this happy hour huddled inside Betsy as gusty winds spoiled our outdoor venue
New friends Jim and Nancy of Running Down our Dreams (behind us) and good buddies John and Sharon of On the Road of Retirement

Just before Hans and Lisa left we had an alcohol-free happy hour at their coach (well, it WAS in the morning), followed by a mini-tour of Desert Trails RV Park.  They showed us around so we could note the best sites to request for our upcoming stay.  Two weeks later we got one of the most-desired sites (M28), and we are enjoying the afternoon shade here.  It’s nice to have friends to help us gather good intel!

A healthy and happy start to the day with Hans and Lisa

As we remain here enjoying all the trails and spring blooms, our friends have all moved on. We hope to see them here again, at our favorite rendezvous spot in the desert!

A post from the southwest would be incomplete without a Sonoran Desert sunset!




  1. We really love spending time in Tucson. It is the perfect size city with everything one could want not too far away. And, of course, it is home for my saguaro friends:) This is the place to meet friends! Seems many pass by at some point in the winter. So glad we could meet up a couple times:) Beautiful photos, MonaLiza:) Safe travels as you move on!

  2. Sounds like you found a spot to slow down and breathe for awhile. Always fun connecting with like minded folks. Look forward to doing a little hiking and photography with you in a few weeks 🙂

  3. I like the idea of a “winter headquarters”. Two months in an area sounds better than our moving every 2 weeks around the state of Florida. What a great picture of the 4 of you on the trail. Your pictures of the Saguaros are wonderful. I’ve never seen a desert scarecrow. What a great year to be there with the super bloom. Well planned. Your flower and bird pictures great. I can’t believe how many people you met up with. Looks like you had many fun social occasions. That sunset definitely tops off a strong recommendation for Tucson in the winter.

  4. As other’s have said, it was wonderful to spend some time with you two in one of our favorite wintering spots. This blog did a wonderful job of summing up your time there, love all the “social” shots, you two are magnets! Safe travels, we look forward to the next time we cross paths. Happy trails!

  5. Beautiful pictures of the desert! My husband, Marc and I have been following your blog and living vicariously through your travels. We are retiring and will be on the road with our RV next December. We are planning to stay in Tucson next December. Thank you for getting us through a tough Canadian winter in Alberta this year! Hope to meet you both on our travels.

  6. Looks like you’ve had a wonderful winter stay in Tucson, filled with good friends and adventures! We love hiking in Tucson Mountain Park and Sagauro NP, too—the Brown Mountain trail is one of our favorites, and so is the Wasson Peak trail. I hope you stay long enough to see the saguaro bloom—I’ve always wanted to experience that. Sorry the flu bug got you. But it obviously didn’t keep you down for too long! :-))

    • I now see some buds on saguaros, I too hope we will be here when it all blooms. Brown mountain trail has become one of our favorites and we returned there twice.

  7. Tucson has become a favorite winter spot for us as well. So great that so many other RVers feel the same way and we can all get together. It was great seeing you and Steve and hope our paths cross again in the future. I am so happy you get to see the Desert blooming…isn’t it gorgeous? And what about those beautiful Saguaro blooms…

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