Southern Arizona trip report


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At the end of October we headed south for a week in southern Arizona checking out a few State Parks. First stop was Catalina SP northwest of Tucson. What a nice campground, sites spaced out, all paved, all facilities well cared for. The Catalina mountains make a great backdrop and there's good hiking right out of the park. I mountain biked a trail I've read about, 50 Year Trail, and it wasn't one I'll ride again. Too many baby head rock gardens and multi-use trails to be fun for me. This park has great access to Tucson and Biosphere 2, a self-contained space-colonization experiment is nearby. The desert flora is super-sized compared to what we have in north-central Az. The metro is growing outward and is right beside the park but you'd never know it when you're there. I'd say any size RV would fit in the majority of the sites. We'll be back for a longer stay.

Catalina campsite

View of Catalina mtns while hiking

Hard riding

Saw this guy one evening getting warm on a park road when we went for a spin around the park

Next stop was Kartchner Caverns State Park south of Benson. We've been here before and toured the caverns and wanted to stay again. The caverns are "living", still dripping water and building the formations so they have strict rules about not touching and stay on the path and they have misters to prevent dust in the air that damages the atmosphere. Another nice park, kinda remote, but within driving distance of Tombstone, Bisbee, Sierra Vista, and the famous border wall if you want to see it. We visited friends in Sierra Vista and I got a decent ride in the nearby mountains on the edge of Fort Huachuca Army Base. We intended to spend a couple of days at Patagonia Lake State Park to the southwest of Kartchner but I brushed a giant agave on a less than fun bike-a-hike deal and got a spike embedded in my left little finger that quickly got infected so we cut the trip short and headed back north home. Got some antibiotic from my doc and 2 weeks later the spike worked out to where I could see the end and I got it out. So we've got unfinished business in southern Arizona and a couple of other places to check out. Got just barely under 10 mpg for the 750 mile trip, happy with that considering the elevation changes and wind.

Air driven water cooled diamond toothed chain saw used to carve the pathways in the caverns.

Interesting anthill near our campsite, the rim was perfecty round and the ants were taking little individual leaves from mesquite down the hole.

Homland Security observation blimp used to watch the border, it sat about 1/2 mile from friend's house on Fort Huachuca land. They say it goes up 10,000 feet.

Agave spike and the hole it came out of. It went it to the right, you can see the redness but the swelling is way down in this pic. These agave plants are huge, this needle sharp spike is at the end of 2-3 foot long leaves(?) and breaks off when it penetrates something unlucky.

Great post!

We love the mountains and can't wait to get to Arizona to do some hiking.

I had no idea there are pneumatic diamond chained chain saws, when I first saw the picture it thought it was a joke. Can you imagine running one of those for hours while sawing through stone in a cave?

I would turn around if I came upon those rocks on the trail. While yes it may be a challenge, things don't heal quickly anymore, so it's just not worth the risk to me. One time when we were in Colorado, we saw a couple guys riding downhill on a trail with rocks about twice that size and they were flying. I'm sure it was a thrill, but the risk/reward just isn't there.

Did the ants cut the Pepsi can up and take that down the hole too? :) From the size of the hill, those must be some pretty serious ants!

Who would have known we use balloons on the border? I'll bet they are very effective.
My best friend and her husband are camp hosts in Catalina St Park campground A. They love it there. We also loved Kartchner Caverns as well, the campground was full of friendly people and a very nice place to stay. Thanks for sharing the pictures they are nice, except for maybe getting skewered by the agave spike! Happy travels.
Awesome pics! I want to go out west so bad. I think it will be the first thing we do when we retire.