The City of Tucson is surrounded by a variety of parks that give you breathtaking views and activities anyone will enjoy. Whether you want a day or a weekend full of adventure, these three parks will give you a memorable and beautiful experience.

Patagonia Lake State Park

This state park was established in 1975 and is located south of Tucson. The 250-acre man-made lake is a fisherman’s paradise. Spend a relaxing day by catching crappie, bass, bluegill and catfish. In the months between October and March, trout is stocked every three weeks. The state park isn’t just for fishing. Hikers can stroll through the trails and see a variety of birds such as the canyon towhee, vermilion flycatcher, black vulture and several species of hummingbirds.

The campground and marina store with boat rentals make for a great weekend getaway. Park conveniences include a swimming beach, picnic ramadas, tables and grills. Water and electric hookups are provided on the campground.

Patagonia Lake

The swimming beach at Patagonia Lake

 

 Mt Lemmon

If you’re up for an adventure you need to visit Mt Lemmon. It is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains. As you make your voyage to the top, you will come to know of the various pull off points where you can stop and take in the view. There are two main attractions on Mt Lemmon.

The first is Summerhaven which is a small town near the top of the mountain. The Mount Lemmon General Store and The Cookie Cabin, which offers homemade cookies and pizza attracts many visitors. The temperature in Summerhaven is anywhere between 15-30 degrees cooler depending on the weather patterns. This is a comfortable place to visit to avoid the hot desert heat during the summer months.

Summerhaven

The Summerhaven General Store

The second attraction is the Mt Lemmon Ski Valley which is a couple miles above Summerhaven. It’s the southernmost ski resort in the United States. Escape the desert heat any time of the year to hit these slopes. If you’re not a skier or snowboarder, no worries! Every October the Ski Valley hosts an Oktoberfest. You can enjoy some polka music, German beer and food on top of a mountain. Who wouldn’t want to experience that?!

Mt Lemmon

Mt Lemmon ski lift during the non-ski season

 Saguaro National Park

Did you know Tucson is home to the nation’s largest cacti? These plants are found only in a small portion of the United States. They are protected by the Saguaro National Park. This national park has two districts; the Rincon Mountain District which is located east of Tucson and the Tucson Mountain District which is located to the west of Tucson.

Rincon Mountain District

Here are some adventurous activities we recommend when visiting this area:

  • A scenic bike tour around the Cactus Forest Loop Drive offering magnificent views of the Rincon Mountains.
  • Choose from the plethora of hiking paths along the northern part of Cactus Forest Loop.
  • Make a weekend trip into the Rincon Mountain Saguaro Wilderness Area to the visit the Manning Cabin. It was built in 1905 by Levi Manning, a one-time mayor of Tucson.
rincon mountain

View of Rincon Mountain

 

Tucson Mountain District

We recommend these fun activities while visiting this area:

  • Hike along the Valley View Overlook trail, right from the Bajada Loop to view distant mountain ranges and the Avra Valley.
  • Make a stop at the Red Hills Visitor Center that offers an orientation program about the Native American perspective on the saguaro cactus.
  • Choose from one of the five designated areas to enjoy a picnic.
Scenic view of Bajada Loop Drive

Scenic view of Bajada Loop Drive