Southern Arizona
Three Day/Two Night; 5-7 January, 2004; 914 Miles

{directory listing of pictures}
   Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Kitt Peak National Observatory,
   Saguaro National Park (west), Tucson Mountain Park, Tumamoc Hill,
   Sentinel Peak, Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, Tumacacori 
   National Historical Park, Patagonia Lake State Park, Kartcher 
   Caverns State Park, Kansas Settlement Road, Cochise Stronghold, 
   Chiricahua National Monument, Fort Bowie National Historic Site

Day One

Leave Tempe, AZ, at 6:45am. It is dark and chilly.

Thanks to Valley of the Sun urban sprawl, I can take Loop 101 south that connects to Loop 202 west that in turn connects to I-10. From my home in Tempe the drive to I-10 is 12 miles non-stop.

The drive south on I-10 was 3 miles before taking AZ Hwy-347 south. The town of Maricopa is 15 miles and AZ Hwy-84 is 44 miles. AZ Hwy-84 hits I-10 in 5 miles.

The drive west on I-8 is a 33 miles scenic drive. Yes, some portions of interstate is surrounded by Mother Nature. The exit for AZ-Hwy 85 is at Gila Bend.

Ajo, AZ is 45 miles south of Gila Bend via a scenic drive on AZ Hwy-85.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was hit mile 144 at 9:30am (almost 3 hours).

I had learned from the website that the Puerto Blanco Road (53 miles) was closed for construction through January 30, 2004. This was not a problem because the 21 mile Ajo Mountain Drive was an "everything is a picture" drive. {view} {view} {view} {view} {view} {view} {view} {view} {view} {view} {view} {view}

AZ Hwy-85 in/out Organ Pipe was a slow go because of road work and border patrol. Total miles in Organ Pipe was 38 and we left at noon.

There is not much in Why, AZ; however, there is the Why Not Travel Store. I wish I could say "why not" every time it comes to travel. Why is 6 miles north of the Organ Pipe entrance.

The drive from Organ Pipe to the road for Kitt Peak was mostly east on AZ Hwy-86 for 104 miles. It was an okay drive, but time did not allow for any stops.

Go south on AZ Hwy-386 to visit an observatory {zoom}.

Kitt Peak National Observatory would be fun place to visit at night. The drive to/from Kitt Peak is 24 miles round trip. We arrived at 2:30pm and didn't stay long. {mural} {telescopes} {bluebird} {view} {view} {6,875 feet up}

Saguaro National Park was 47 miles from Kitt Peak and we arrived at 3:45pm. {view} {view} {view ... zoom} {view} {Thurman} {Bajada Loop Drive} {view} {view}

Tucson Mountain City Park sits between Saguaro National Park and the city of Tucson. We hit the park in time for a sunset and other scenic views.

Day one ends in Tucson, Arizona, at 6:15pm after 375 miles.

Day Two

I got up early to catch a sunrise on Tumamoc Hill. The private road up Tumamoc Hill is a no smoking road and offers numerous scenic views. {view} {arrow-to-arrow} {view}

Next to Tumamoc Hill is Sentinel Peak so I hiked it. {plaque} {marker} {Tucson} {'A' base ... 'A' top}

Left Tucson at 9:00am and drove littery I-19 south to visit Tubac Presidio State Historic Park. It was at Tubac, AZ, where the Weekly Arizonian was printed using this printing press. The Weekly Arizonian was Arizona's first newspaper and it was printed on 03 March 1859.

Tumacacori National Historical Park is located a few miles south of Tubac. {church ... looking in ... looking out} {cemetery} {view}

Continued south 24 miles on I-19 to Nogales, AZ, arriving at 11:30am. Headed northeast 20 miles on AZ Hwy-82 to Patagonia Lake State Park. {view} {duck} {view} The town of Patagonia is a few miles east of the state park and I found this mural.

The drive east on AZ Hwy-82 continued for 47 miles and then we turned north onto AZ Hwy-90 for another 10 miles before hitting Kartcher Caverns State Park. We arrived at 2:10pm for our 3:00pm tour of the Rotunda and Throne rooms. These "living" caves are excellent; however, picture taking is strictly prohibited, which is a major negative given the cost of touring the caves and the need for reservations. [Note: you can make reservations by calling 1.520.586.CAVE, where CAVE is equal to 2283.]

Drive AZ Hwy-90 a handful of miles north to I-10 and go another 45 east to Willcox, AZ. Day two ended at 6:00pm after driving 205 miles.

Day Three

Leave Willcox at 7:30am southeast 6 miles on AZ Hwy-186, south 15 miles on the Kansas Settlement Road, west 6 miles on Birch Road, south 10 miles on US Hwy-191, west 8 miles on Ironwood Road to Cochise Stronghold. We arrived at 9:00am and hiked a chilly nature trail. {view ... view} We encountered a deer upon leaving Cochise Stronghold at 9:45am.

Left Cochise Stronghold going east on Ironwood Road (8 miles), south on US Hwy-191 (11 miles), then east/northeast on AZ Hwy-181 to Chiricahua National Monument. {view ... view ... view ... view} {shaded road} {colorful sky} It was 46 miles between Cochise Stronghold and Chiricahua.

Left Chiricahua northwest on AZ Hwy-186 for about 6 miles then turned northeast for 8 miles on Apache Pass Road to the parking lot for Fort Bowie National Historic Site. It is a 1.5 mile hike to the site. {view} {cemetery} {hut home} {1894 picture} {2004 picture}

From this point our objective was to get home before dark. Drove north 13 miles on the paved Apache Pass Road to Bowie; headed east 11 miles on I-10; went north 35 miles on US Hwy-191 to Safford; drove northwest 77 miles on US Hwy-70 to Globe; headed west 77 miles on US Hwy-60 to Tempe. [Note: in Miami, AZ, we got stuck behind a funeral possession heading west on US Hwy-60.

We arrived in Tempe at 5:30pm after driving 334 miles for the day and 914 total miles.

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Author: Gerald D. Thurman []
Created: 09 January 2004