the purpose of this web site, Arizona's southeastern ranges consist of the Santa Catalina,
Rincon (which lies within Saguaro National Monument - east) and Santa Rita Mountains which
surround Tucson. Each of these island ranges rises out of the surrounding low land
desert to altitudes of 8-9000 feet, providing excellent (and remote) hiking opportunities
throughout the year.
area offers a variety of diverse ecosystems, from lowland desert (sporting some of the
largest barrel cactus and stands of saguaro the author has seen), to mid altitude
grasslands, climbing to forests of pinyon pine, alligator juniper and silverleaf oak.
The ranges also support a wide variety of animal life. The author has
encountered: black bear, javalinas, tarantulas, rattle snakes, hummingbirds, buzzards and
hawks. Unfortunately an effort to reintroduce desert bighorn sheep into the area
seems to have failed (like most things, it is considerably more difficult to undo
damage than to cause it). Fortunately cattle grazing is no longer permitted within
NPS controlled boundaries in these areas, as a result the vegetation remains lush and
Along with the range of altitudes, the
hiker can encounter a wide range of temperatures. Expect much cooler temperatures as
you climb into the upper elevations of these ranges and carry extra layers in your pack
accordingly. The mountains surrounding Tucson get considerably more rainfall than
those in the Phoenix area. During the summer monsoon expect daily afternoon
thunderstorms. Carry raingear even if the morning skies appear clear, and plan your
hike to avoid exposed peaks and ridges during the afternoon hours.
Additional hikes in an around the
Tucson area may be found on Andy Flach's excellent site: Tucson Hikes an Illustrated Guide.