ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Travel and Places»
  • Visiting North America

The Beauty of Southern Arizona

Updated on August 20, 2014

Southern Arizona

In this lens, I will share my travels and pictures from the southern half of Arizona, including all the places I do not write about someplace else.

Southern Arizona is quite scenic, though the best is yet to come in other parts of Arizona and Utah.

Included is not only the scenery, but also some of the plants and animals, particularly birds. There will be information on some of the best birding spots.

I will be adding to this lens for awhile. I have many more photographs, and they can show up any place. So please come back!

Peridot Mesa

Located on the Apache Reservation, in the middle of nowhere, Peridot Mesa is a unique volcanic formation. The slopes and location of the mesa, and the soil, lend themselves to huge stands of California Poppies in the spring after good winter rains. The rain runs down the slope, watering the annuals, and they spring to life. While there are California Poppies throughout the area during this time, they are not all that abundant elsewhere. Peridot Mesa is known for its poppy display, which can turn the entire side of the hill bright orange.

Peridots are semi-precious stones which are translucent and a beautiful light green in color. They can be faceted. They are abundant in the area. When I was a teenager, our youth group went to worship in the Lutheran church in San Carlos, and afterwards, the people served us fry bread, which was delicious. One person gave me a small bottle half full of peridots. I still have it.

For more information about Peridot Mesa, read here: Peridot Mesa.

Apache Reservation - Peridot Mesa

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Peridot Mesa, the most famous location on the Apache Reservation for California Poppies. This is east of Globe, Arizona. Peridots are the local semi-precious gemstone, light green and transparent in color.Peridot Mesa. Flowers bloom abundantly only when there are good winter rains, and you have to get there at the right time; they only last a couple of weeks. This view is on the road but looking away from the mesa.Peridot Mesa. Another view on the other side of the road.Peridot Mesa.There are a few saguaros growing among the flowers.Wrong time of the year, wrong year, and the flowers are barely visible.Mesa close to the town of San Carlos.Another view of the mesa close to San Carlos.Peridot Mesa with few poppies. The plant in the foreground is Canaigre or Wild Rhubarb.Between San Carlos and Peridot Mesa. These are California Poppies.
Peridot Mesa, the most famous location on the Apache Reservation for California Poppies. This is east of Globe, Arizona. Peridots are the local semi-precious gemstone, light green and transparent in color.
Peridot Mesa, the most famous location on the Apache Reservation for California Poppies. This is east of Globe, Arizona. Peridots are the local semi-precious gemstone, light green and transparent in color.
Peridot Mesa. Flowers bloom abundantly only when there are good winter rains, and you have to get there at the right time; they only last a couple of weeks. This view is on the road but looking away from the mesa.
Peridot Mesa. Flowers bloom abundantly only when there are good winter rains, and you have to get there at the right time; they only last a couple of weeks. This view is on the road but looking away from the mesa.
Peridot Mesa. Another view on the other side of the road.
Peridot Mesa. Another view on the other side of the road.
Peridot Mesa.
Peridot Mesa.
There are a few saguaros growing among the flowers.
There are a few saguaros growing among the flowers.
Wrong time of the year, wrong year, and the flowers are barely visible.
Wrong time of the year, wrong year, and the flowers are barely visible.
Mesa close to the town of San Carlos.
Mesa close to the town of San Carlos.
Another view of the mesa close to San Carlos.
Another view of the mesa close to San Carlos.
Peridot Mesa with few poppies. The plant in the foreground is Canaigre or Wild Rhubarb.
Peridot Mesa with few poppies. The plant in the foreground is Canaigre or Wild Rhubarb.
Between San Carlos and Peridot Mesa. These are California Poppies.
Between San Carlos and Peridot Mesa. These are California Poppies.

Bartlett Lake

Bartlett Lake is a recreational area northeast of Phoenix. It allows boating and has a marina. It's a beautiful drive, and has some interesting wildflowers in spring.

Bartlett Lake - NE of Phoenix

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Along the road just after the turnoff to the lakeFurther down the roadStill further down the road.The road goes down the hill right to the lakeSaguaro top left, yellow Brittlebush, red Chuparosa. Spring flowers.Bartlett Lake at last! Yellow Brittlebush in the foreground.Closeup, showing brittlebushes.
Along the road just after the turnoff to the lake
Along the road just after the turnoff to the lake
Further down the road
Further down the road
Still further down the road.
Still further down the road.
The road goes down the hill right to the lake
The road goes down the hill right to the lake
Saguaro top left, yellow Brittlebush, red Chuparosa. Spring flowers.
Saguaro top left, yellow Brittlebush, red Chuparosa. Spring flowers.
Bartlett Lake at last! Yellow Brittlebush in the foreground.
Bartlett Lake at last! Yellow Brittlebush in the foreground.
Closeup, showing brittlebushes.
Closeup, showing brittlebushes.

Boyce-Thompson Arboretum

Located just west of Superior, Boyce-Thompson Arboretum is a huge botanical garden. It has a gorgeous small set of mountains directly behind it. I imagine this is what they used to feed Ayer Lake, which is, in turn, used to water the plants in the garden. There are extensive areas with trees, and with desert vegetation. Several locations are great for observing hummingbirds; they keep feeders active during hummingbird season. Flowers also feed the hummingbirds, when in bloom. A demonstration garden of plants which are typically planted for their flowers is located in one place. The most prominent feature of this area is the small collection of Irises. There is also a nice cactus garden further down the path.

Boyce-Thompson is along US 60 between Phoenix and Globe. During wildflower season, the entire stretch is a riot of color.

For more information, read here: Boyce-Thompson Arboretum.

Boyce-Thompson Arboretum - Superior, Arizona

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Boyce-Thompson Arboretum is just west of Superior, Arizona, and has a beautiful little group of mountains behind it. This is the eastern end of the mountains.The western end.Mountains with a saguaro.Closer view of the mountains.Mountains with a prickly pear in the foreground.Nearby.Another view nearby.
Boyce-Thompson Arboretum is just west of Superior, Arizona, and has a beautiful little group of mountains behind it. This is the eastern end of the mountains.
Boyce-Thompson Arboretum is just west of Superior, Arizona, and has a beautiful little group of mountains behind it. This is the eastern end of the mountains.
The western end.
The western end.
Mountains with a saguaro.
Mountains with a saguaro.
Closer view of the mountains.
Closer view of the mountains.
Mountains with a prickly pear in the foreground.
Mountains with a prickly pear in the foreground.
Nearby.
Nearby.
Another view nearby.
Another view nearby.

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a VERY large wildlife refuge, 117,107 acres. It is located near the Mexican border in western Arizona. The highway to the visitor center is miles long. A few people have homes in the area, but mostly it is undeveloped. Near the visitor center is a blind where a person can set up a camera, and various mammals will come in to drink.

Along a very different road, from I-19 to the small town of Arivaca, just before entering the town, is Arivaca Cienega. This is properly part of Buenos Aires. It is a fenced area with a trail that is about a mile in length (I believe). The trail wanders around in the desert, and crosses several places where there is active swamp. "Cienega" means "swamp" in Spanish. And these are small areas of water with thick growth, including water lilies and native Sonoran Desert water plants. It is an excellent area for birding. Even though the Cienega is close to Mexico, it is not prone to collect illegal aliens who might cause trouble for a visitor, because it is fenced. There is one entrance, at the parking lot. The area is not particularly attractive to troublemakers. I am not afraid to go there alone to bird.

During warmer weather, along the highway to the visitor center, the predominant wildflower is the Desert Prickly Poppy, also known as the Matilija Poppy, which is white. The first time I drove down there, I stopped at the side of the road to take pictures of a plant in bloom, and a Border Patrol agent stopped to make sure I was all right. When you stay on the highway, you frequently see Border Patrol, and they look out for you. One time when I got stuck, a Border Patrol agent helped me summon a tow truck and stayed until it arrived an hour later.

For more information, go here: Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

Buenos Aires - large wildlife refuge

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This was along the road to the visitor center in Buenos Aires. This wildlife refuge is close to the border of Mexico, between Nogales and Yuma.Another view.Intriguing pink flowers. I don't know what they are.Arivaca Cienega, also part of Buenos Aires, but quite far away from the visitor center. This is an excellent birding location. There is water, and an abundance of birds. "Cienega" means "swamp" in Spanish. The place is aptly named. Yes, we have swampMystery flower, seen along the highway through Buenos Aires.The same mystery flower.Desert Prickly Poppy. The black specks are small ants. Ants are pollinators in Arizona.
This was along the road to the visitor center in Buenos Aires. This wildlife refuge is close to the border of Mexico, between Nogales and Yuma.
This was along the road to the visitor center in Buenos Aires. This wildlife refuge is close to the border of Mexico, between Nogales and Yuma.
Another view.
Another view.
Intriguing pink flowers. I don't know what they are.
Intriguing pink flowers. I don't know what they are.
Arivaca Cienega, also part of Buenos Aires, but quite far away from the visitor center. This is an excellent birding location. There is water, and an abundance of birds. "Cienega" means "swamp" in Spanish. The place is aptly named. Yes, we have swamp
Arivaca Cienega, also part of Buenos Aires, but quite far away from the visitor center. This is an excellent birding location. There is water, and an abundance of birds. "Cienega" means "swamp" in Spanish. The place is aptly named. Yes, we have swamp
Mystery flower, seen along the highway through Buenos Aires.
Mystery flower, seen along the highway through Buenos Aires.
The same mystery flower.
The same mystery flower.
Desert Prickly Poppy. The black specks are small ants. Ants are pollinators in Arizona.
Desert Prickly Poppy. The black specks are small ants. Ants are pollinators in Arizona.

Castle Rock Wilderness

This beautiful area is just north of Yuma, Arizona. The rock formation in the mountains is quite distinctive. I went there to take photos of the wildflowers in bloom. They were predominantly Brittlebush and Lupines. Everything was beautifully green. There is an old mining town along the road that has been turned into a museum. If you go past that point, the road gets a lot rougher. I was driving along the area, and a person in an ATV stopped me and warned me that I shouldn't drive there in anything less than a four wheel drive. I'm not particularly afraid to tackle such roads in my Volvo, so I went on ahead. I got many wonderful pictures for that reason. Finally, however, I got to a place where the road abruptly went nearly vertical. There was no way out, and no space to turn around. That didn't stop me from trying it anyway, and I got stuck. I was in the process of calling AAA when I saw someone in an ATV fairly close. I tried to hail him, to no avail. He left. Shortly afterward, a group of ATV vehicles and drivers showed up. They helped me get out of the spot.

I then drove back a ways, and tried to cross a wash I had crossed successfully in the opposite direction, and got stuck again. Again, they helped me. (Do you believe in angels? Hmmm) After that, I had no further trouble, but it did break my muffler off the car, and it is still out there someplace. If you see a muffler back there, it's mine. :(

But in spite of the problems I had, the photos I got were worth it.

Castle Rock Wilderness - North of Yuma, Arizona

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A wildflower trip, my only visit so far. The flowers on the lower left are brittlebush. I like to put dead trees in my photos. The square peak is probably Castle Rock.Brittlebush in the foreground, again.An inviting road.More brittlebush.Cholla in the front, right, a short saguaro behind it.The clouds were beautiful that day. This was the result of deliberate planning, to go when there would be clouds.The purple flowers in the foreground are lupines.One more view, with brittlebush. Most people don't realize the desert can be this green and colorful.This is a view in Kofi National Wildlife Refuge, just north of Castle Rock. Notice the luxuriant brittlebush. The only place they were in bloom was along the gas pipeline!Another view of Kofi.
A wildflower trip, my only visit so far. The flowers on the lower left are brittlebush. I like to put dead trees in my photos. The square peak is probably Castle Rock.
A wildflower trip, my only visit so far. The flowers on the lower left are brittlebush. I like to put dead trees in my photos. The square peak is probably Castle Rock.
Brittlebush in the foreground, again.
Brittlebush in the foreground, again.
An inviting road.
An inviting road.
More brittlebush.
More brittlebush.
Cholla in the front, right, a short saguaro behind it.
Cholla in the front, right, a short saguaro behind it.
The clouds were beautiful that day. This was the result of deliberate planning, to go when there would be clouds.
The clouds were beautiful that day. This was the result of deliberate planning, to go when there would be clouds.
The purple flowers in the foreground are lupines.
The purple flowers in the foreground are lupines.
One more view, with brittlebush. Most people don't realize the desert can be this green and colorful.
One more view, with brittlebush. Most people don't realize the desert can be this green and colorful.
This is a view in Kofi National Wildlife Refuge, just north of Castle Rock. Notice the luxuriant brittlebush. The only place they were in bloom was along the gas pipeline!
This is a view in Kofi National Wildlife Refuge, just north of Castle Rock. Notice the luxuriant brittlebush. The only place they were in bloom was along the gas pipeline!
Another view of Kofi.
Another view of Kofi.

Globe, Arizona

US 60 goes from Phoenix to Globe, and along the way, it passes through a rather spectacular gorge, which includes a high bridge and a tunnel. Globe is a mining town, with an open pit mine, which is interesting in and of itself. The area around it is quite beautiful, and a good place to get many wonderful pictures. These photos are from the road along US 60.

Oh, and Globe itself, along the highway, is now riddled with traffic cameras. :(

Globe, Arizona - East of Phoenix

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The road between Phoenix and Globe goes through a beautiful gorge. This is east of Superior.This is the mountain behind Boyce-Thompson Arboretum, from another angle.Along US 60 between Phoenix and Globe. At the right time of year, the wildflowers are gorgeous! This is east of Gonzales Pass. The hot pink flowers are Penstemon. In the foreground are a few California Poppies. On the lower right is Brittlebush.Another approach to Globe. This highway goes to Florence, and from there you can go east to Globe. The tree is a Palo Verde in bloom.
The road between Phoenix and Globe goes through a beautiful gorge. This is east of Superior.
The road between Phoenix and Globe goes through a beautiful gorge. This is east of Superior.
This is the mountain behind Boyce-Thompson Arboretum, from another angle.
This is the mountain behind Boyce-Thompson Arboretum, from another angle.
Along US 60 between Phoenix and Globe. At the right time of year, the wildflowers are gorgeous! This is east of Gonzales Pass. The hot pink flowers are Penstemon. In the foreground are a few California Poppies. On the lower right is Brittlebush.
Along US 60 between Phoenix and Globe. At the right time of year, the wildflowers are gorgeous! This is east of Gonzales Pass. The hot pink flowers are Penstemon. In the foreground are a few California Poppies. On the lower right is Brittlebush.
Another approach to Globe. This highway goes to Florence, and from there you can go east to Globe. The tree is a Palo Verde in bloom.
Another approach to Globe. This highway goes to Florence, and from there you can go east to Globe. The tree is a Palo Verde in bloom.

Kitt Peak

Kitt Peak is in the Quinlan Mountains, SE of Tucson. It is one of the best known astronomy locations in the world. It has the famous solar telescope, a huge square tube going down at an angle into the ground. Its purpose, obviously, is to observe the sun. In the photos below, you can faintly see this structure on the top of the peak. The drive up there is very beautiful.

For more information: Kitt Peak National Observatory.

Kitt Peak - Quinlan Mountains

Click thumbnail to view full-size
On the road between Tucson and Kitt Peak.Poppy field north of Kitt Peak.Poppy field, another view.Still another view of the poppy field. Notice the white object on top of the peak. This is the solar telescope.Owl Clover. I have found that stands of Owl Clover are rare. Some people have found whole fields of them. I hope to be that lucky some day. This bunch was found along the road from Kitt Peak to Ajo. Not really visible in this photo is the fact that mTelephoto of Kitt Peak showing the tallest telescope more clearly.
On the road between Tucson and Kitt Peak.
On the road between Tucson and Kitt Peak.
Poppy field north of Kitt Peak.
Poppy field north of Kitt Peak.
Poppy field, another view.
Poppy field, another view.
Still another view of the poppy field. Notice the white object on top of the peak. This is the solar telescope.
Still another view of the poppy field. Notice the white object on top of the peak. This is the solar telescope.
Owl Clover. I have found that stands of Owl Clover are rare. Some people have found whole fields of them. I hope to be that lucky some day. This bunch was found along the road from Kitt Peak to Ajo. Not really visible in this photo is the fact that m
Owl Clover. I have found that stands of Owl Clover are rare. Some people have found whole fields of them. I hope to be that lucky some day. This bunch was found along the road from Kitt Peak to Ajo. Not really visible in this photo is the fact that m
Telephoto of Kitt Peak showing the tallest telescope more clearly.
Telephoto of Kitt Peak showing the tallest telescope more clearly.

Lake Pleasant

Lake Pleasant is a recreational lake NW of Phoenix. It has a marina and a restaurant. The restaurant's food is reasonably good. There are lots of boats on the lake. This is where I saw my first seagulls in Arizona, two species. They surprised me; I had no idea you could see seagulls in Arizona. In general, we have lots of beach, but no ocean. But gulls seem to accept small lakes as temporary pit stops.

Lake Pleasant

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Along the route to Lake Pleasant before the turnoff. Those orange flowers on the right are Desert Mallow.Distant slopes covered with California Poppies, and mountains in the background.The lake.
Along the route to Lake Pleasant before the turnoff. Those orange flowers on the right are Desert Mallow.
Along the route to Lake Pleasant before the turnoff. Those orange flowers on the right are Desert Mallow.
Distant slopes covered with California Poppies, and mountains in the background.
Distant slopes covered with California Poppies, and mountains in the background.
The lake.
The lake.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Ajo Mountains

This beautiful area is just north of the border to Mexico, and there is a border checkpoint north of the Monument. There is one loop road through the mountains, and it is a gorgeous drive any time of year. I try to go when the wildflowers are in bloom.

One photo I got on my first trip was of a hillside covered with Brittlebush, California Poppies, and photographers. One photographer actually had an old large format camera!

The Organ Pipe Cactus is a columnar cactus (tall branches) which is characterized by the fact that all the branches are fastened at the base of the plant. There are also numerous Saguaros in the area. Their branches attach to the main stem a distance above the ground.

Here is more information about this beautiful place: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument - Ajo Mountains

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This beautiful location is just north of Mexico in southwestern Arizona, south of the highway between Kitt Peak and Ajo.Another view.On the road in the monument.Getting close to the Ajo Mountains.That's brittlebush in the foreground. This bush is so named because the branches snap off easily and cleanly.That's an organ pipe cactus on the left.Another view, well into the mountains.That's a Hedgehog Cactus in the foreground. These plants are rare. The tiny fruits taste a little like strawberries. The flesh has a nice flavor, and is good to eat when it's hot and you need to cool down; you should not eat it in winter. If you do eThere are two arches within the Monument. This is the larger one. The rich red color is due to the fact it is close to sunset.Another view, showing both the larger arch and the smaller arch, directly above it.
This beautiful location is just north of Mexico in southwestern Arizona, south of the highway between Kitt Peak and Ajo.
This beautiful location is just north of Mexico in southwestern Arizona, south of the highway between Kitt Peak and Ajo.
Another view.
Another view.
On the road in the monument.
On the road in the monument.
Getting close to the Ajo Mountains.
Getting close to the Ajo Mountains.
That's brittlebush in the foreground. This bush is so named because the branches snap off easily and cleanly.
That's brittlebush in the foreground. This bush is so named because the branches snap off easily and cleanly.
That's an organ pipe cactus on the left.
That's an organ pipe cactus on the left.
Another view, well into the mountains.
Another view, well into the mountains.
That's a Hedgehog Cactus in the foreground. These plants are rare. The tiny fruits taste a little like strawberries. The flesh has a nice flavor, and is good to eat when it's hot and you need to cool down; you should not eat it in winter. If you do e
That's a Hedgehog Cactus in the foreground. These plants are rare. The tiny fruits taste a little like strawberries. The flesh has a nice flavor, and is good to eat when it's hot and you need to cool down; you should not eat it in winter. If you do e
There are two arches within the Monument. This is the larger one. The rich red color is due to the fact it is close to sunset.
There are two arches within the Monument. This is the larger one. The rich red color is due to the fact it is close to sunset.
Another view, showing both the larger arch and the smaller arch, directly above it.
Another view, showing both the larger arch and the smaller arch, directly above it.
Click thumbnail to view full-size
This was the hillside full of Brittlebush, Poppies, and photographers. I deliberately made sure I didn't have any photographers in the picture, though if I were to go back, I would take some photos of them.Hedgehog in bloom. See earlier photo.Brittlebush with a peak in the background.Mountains with Saguaros.Yes, the desert is sometimes green. Very green.More Brittlebush.Love those cliffs!A deep place between cliffs.Distant view to the south.Final view of mountains.
This was the hillside full of Brittlebush, Poppies, and photographers. I deliberately made sure I didn't have any photographers in the picture, though if I were to go back, I would take some photos of them.
This was the hillside full of Brittlebush, Poppies, and photographers. I deliberately made sure I didn't have any photographers in the picture, though if I were to go back, I would take some photos of them.
Hedgehog in bloom. See earlier photo.
Hedgehog in bloom. See earlier photo.
Brittlebush with a peak in the background.
Brittlebush with a peak in the background.
Mountains with Saguaros.
Mountains with Saguaros.
Yes, the desert is sometimes green. Very green.
Yes, the desert is sometimes green. Very green.
More Brittlebush.
More Brittlebush.
Love those cliffs!
Love those cliffs!
A deep place between cliffs.
A deep place between cliffs.
Distant view to the south.
Distant view to the south.
Final view of mountains.
Final view of mountains.

Santa Catalina Mountains

This large mountain range is said to have six of the seven world climates. None of the peaks are above the tree line, with the little town of Summerhaven, located at nearly 9000 feet.

The lower part of the mountains has many Saguaros, and as you go up in altitude, you next find an area that has a lot of Manzanita plants. These are small shrub-like plants (possibly small trees) with a characteristic dark red trunk and stems. After that, going up, you encounter pine forests.

There is a ski slope near Summerhaven. It has a fine restaurant. Summerhaven also has a couple of restaurants, a post office, a specialty grocery store, a community center, and a few hundred homes. There are no gas stations that I am aware of, so get your gas at the bottom before you drive up. It's about 25 miles of winding mountain roads, but since the renovation, excellent driving, with many pullouts for scenic spots.

The Catalina Mountains have been the location of two major forest fires. These have burned tens of thousands of acres, and the second one, the Aspen Fire, burned over 200 homes in Summerhaven. Most have been rebuilt. Some of the homes remind me of the type of home you might see in Switzerland.

I have been up to Summerhaven and points in between a number of times.

I have several photos of various species from Incinerator Ridge. This is a barely noticed road, unpaved, that goes back to a very quiet area. It is an excellent birding spot, and has a lot of other species as well. You just have to be patient. As is usually the case, the best birding is in the morning (but I am not able to go then, so I struggle to get good species a bit more.)

Santa Catalina Mountains - north and east of Tucson

Click thumbnail to view full-size
View from the Catalina Foothills, just south of the mountain range.View from Agua Caliente, a city park with wonderful birding, and a couple of lakes. They also have lots of beautiful palm trees. There is one palm tree which is native to the Sonoran Desert, but I don't know if this is the species.Another view from the Catalina Foothills. The spiky trees barely visible to the right above the green bush are Italian Cypress. They are not native, but are widely planted.Another view from Agua Caliente. "Caliente" means "hot" in Spanish.Agua Caliente has some wonderful old trees.One of the lakes at Agua Caliente. There are usually a lot of ducks around the area in winter.Catalina State Park, on the northwest face of the Catalinas, has thick stands of saguaros.View toward the Catalinas with one saguaro.Looking at the Pusch Ridge area from Catalina State Park, late in the afternoon.This is actually a view of the Rincon Mountains, which are just east of the Catalinas. This is along the road between Colossal Cave and Vail.
View from the Catalina Foothills, just south of the mountain range.
View from the Catalina Foothills, just south of the mountain range.
View from Agua Caliente, a city park with wonderful birding, and a couple of lakes. They also have lots of beautiful palm trees. There is one palm tree which is native to the Sonoran Desert, but I don't know if this is the species.
View from Agua Caliente, a city park with wonderful birding, and a couple of lakes. They also have lots of beautiful palm trees. There is one palm tree which is native to the Sonoran Desert, but I don't know if this is the species.
Another view from the Catalina Foothills. The spiky trees barely visible to the right above the green bush are Italian Cypress. They are not native, but are widely planted.
Another view from the Catalina Foothills. The spiky trees barely visible to the right above the green bush are Italian Cypress. They are not native, but are widely planted.
Another view from Agua Caliente. "Caliente" means "hot" in Spanish.
Another view from Agua Caliente. "Caliente" means "hot" in Spanish.
Agua Caliente has some wonderful old trees.
Agua Caliente has some wonderful old trees.
One of the lakes at Agua Caliente. There are usually a lot of ducks around the area in winter.
One of the lakes at Agua Caliente. There are usually a lot of ducks around the area in winter.
Catalina State Park, on the northwest face of the Catalinas, has thick stands of saguaros.
Catalina State Park, on the northwest face of the Catalinas, has thick stands of saguaros.
View toward the Catalinas with one saguaro.
View toward the Catalinas with one saguaro.
Looking at the Pusch Ridge area from Catalina State Park, late in the afternoon.
Looking at the Pusch Ridge area from Catalina State Park, late in the afternoon.
This is actually a view of the Rincon Mountains, which are just east of the Catalinas. This is along the road between Colossal Cave and Vail.
This is actually a view of the Rincon Mountains, which are just east of the Catalinas. This is along the road between Colossal Cave and Vail.

Mount Lemmon trips - in no particular order

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Lower elevations are covered with Saguaros.One Saguaro on the left, and beautiful cumulus clouds. The mountains get about twice the rainfall we get where I live.Elevation just past the Manzanita zone.Lots of green grass.Don't remember exactly where this was.Grasslands.Looking down from Windy Point.Thimble Peak (little tiny peak nearly in the center), at the head of Sabino Canyon.Rock hoodoos typical of this elevation.Another view from Windy Point.
Lower elevations are covered with Saguaros.
Lower elevations are covered with Saguaros.
One Saguaro on the left, and beautiful cumulus clouds. The mountains get about twice the rainfall we get where I live.
One Saguaro on the left, and beautiful cumulus clouds. The mountains get about twice the rainfall we get where I live.
Elevation just past the Manzanita zone.
Elevation just past the Manzanita zone.
Lots of green grass.
Lots of green grass.
Don't remember exactly where this was.
Don't remember exactly where this was.
Grasslands.
Grasslands.
Looking down from Windy Point.
Looking down from Windy Point.
Thimble Peak (little tiny peak nearly in the center), at the head of Sabino Canyon.
Thimble Peak (little tiny peak nearly in the center), at the head of Sabino Canyon.
Rock hoodoos typical of this elevation.
Rock hoodoos typical of this elevation.
Another view from Windy Point.
Another view from Windy Point.
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Another view from Windy Point.This particular rock is popular with climbers, and there used to be ropes there all the time.More beautiful cumulus clouds.Molino canyon area. I have never seen this little pool without water (but then, I don't usually go during the dry season anyway.)Seven Cataracts. This shows a pool and several of the cataracts. This is treacherous for climbing, but very beautiful. The amount of water varies a lot, and on this occasion, there was more water.Bordered Patch.There are beautiful ferns in many places. This is on Incinerator Ridge, and the shadow on the left is a tree trunk.Wild cotton. The best time of year to find wildflowers on Mount Lemmon is in August.Closeup of wild cotton.Bordered Patch.
Another view from Windy Point.
Another view from Windy Point.
This particular rock is popular with climbers, and there used to be ropes there all the time.
This particular rock is popular with climbers, and there used to be ropes there all the time.
More beautiful cumulus clouds.
More beautiful cumulus clouds.
Molino canyon area. I have never seen this little pool without water (but then, I don't usually go during the dry season anyway.)
Molino canyon area. I have never seen this little pool without water (but then, I don't usually go during the dry season anyway.)
Seven Cataracts. This shows a pool and several of the cataracts. This is treacherous for climbing, but very beautiful. The amount of water varies a lot, and on this occasion, there was more water.
Seven Cataracts. This shows a pool and several of the cataracts. This is treacherous for climbing, but very beautiful. The amount of water varies a lot, and on this occasion, there was more water.
Bordered Patch.
Bordered Patch.
There are beautiful ferns in many places. This is on Incinerator Ridge, and the shadow on the left is a tree trunk.
There are beautiful ferns in many places. This is on Incinerator Ridge, and the shadow on the left is a tree trunk.
Wild cotton. The best time of year to find wildflowers on Mount Lemmon is in August.
Wild cotton. The best time of year to find wildflowers on Mount Lemmon is in August.
Closeup of wild cotton.
Closeup of wild cotton.
Bordered Patch.
Bordered Patch.
Click thumbnail to view full-size
I have no idea what this little fly is, and I have looked for many months. I have seen this species several times.Two bugs. Both the same species at different ages, or two different species? I have no idea. They're on Fleabane.Indian Paintbrush.I don't know what these are. I found them at about 8000' elevation.Lupine.Rock Squirrel on Incinerator Ridge.Townsend's Warbler on Incinerator Ridge.Stellar's Jay, hiding on Incinerator Ridge.Cliff Chipmunk on Incinerator Ridge.Pipevine Swallowtail on Thistle. These butterflies HATE to stand still, so it is difficult to get a good photo.
I have no idea what this little fly is, and I have looked for many months. I have seen this species several times.
I have no idea what this little fly is, and I have looked for many months. I have seen this species several times.
Two bugs. Both the same species at different ages, or two different species? I have no idea. They're on Fleabane.
Two bugs. Both the same species at different ages, or two different species? I have no idea. They're on Fleabane.
Indian Paintbrush.
Indian Paintbrush.
I don't know what these are. I found them at about 8000' elevation.
I don't know what these are. I found them at about 8000' elevation.
Lupine.
Lupine.
Rock Squirrel on Incinerator Ridge.
Rock Squirrel on Incinerator Ridge.
Townsend's Warbler on Incinerator Ridge.
Townsend's Warbler on Incinerator Ridge.
Stellar's Jay, hiding on Incinerator Ridge.
Stellar's Jay, hiding on Incinerator Ridge.
Cliff Chipmunk on Incinerator Ridge.
Cliff Chipmunk on Incinerator Ridge.
Pipevine Swallowtail on Thistle. These butterflies HATE to stand still, so it is difficult to get a good photo.
Pipevine Swallowtail on Thistle. These butterflies HATE to stand still, so it is difficult to get a good photo.
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Yellow-eyed Junco. This was on the ledge at the Iron Door restaurant, by the ski slope. These juncos are very tame.Community Center in Summerhaven.Meadow with lots of species of flowers.Part of the flower stalk of an Agave sp. Notice the hummingbird. It was almost dark, so I was very lucky to get this photo.If you stay late enough and there are clouds, you can get good sunset pictures.
Yellow-eyed Junco. This was on the ledge at the Iron Door restaurant, by the ski slope. These juncos are very tame.
Yellow-eyed Junco. This was on the ledge at the Iron Door restaurant, by the ski slope. These juncos are very tame.
Community Center in Summerhaven.
Community Center in Summerhaven.
Meadow with lots of species of flowers.
Meadow with lots of species of flowers.
Part of the flower stalk of an Agave sp. Notice the hummingbird. It was almost dark, so I was very lucky to get this photo.
Part of the flower stalk of an Agave sp. Notice the hummingbird. It was almost dark, so I was very lucky to get this photo.
If you stay late enough and there are clouds, you can get good sunset pictures.
If you stay late enough and there are clouds, you can get good sunset pictures.

Superstition Mountains

This beautiful mountain range is west of Phoenix. I have visited a few times, and have driven around on many of the roads, including the one to Roosevelt Lake. The most spectacular face in my opinion, is in the Lost Dutchman State Park. I made two trips to photograph wildflowers. Just before you get to the park, you pass a museum which has many interesting items from pioneer days, including a rather large rock crusher used for mining. There is also a barn with an old upright piano in it, and a chapel. Some people hold weddings there. There is a life-sized cardboard cutout Elvis in the chapel. Past the park, on the way to the lake, there is a restaurant that has an old jukebox, still lit up, though I don't know if it still plays or not. It's a very interesting place as well.

I have also driven on the south side of the mountains, along a very nice road that meanders allovertheplace for quite a distance.

There is a legend, started by the famous southwestern artist Ted DeGrazia, that some of his paintings are hidden in the mountains. Only the Apaches know where this is. Many people have gone looking for them, without success. I don't know if he was telling the truth, or if it was just a story he made up to attract attention. One of my best friends, who knew him, thinks it is a fabrication. He made a video about it, which I saw when I went to his Gallery in the Sun. Another legend is that because the IRS would not let him deduct the value of his paintings, but only the materials, he burned a bunch of his paintings. I don't know if this is any more true than the other legend. I got to talk to him once, but he certainly wasn't about to say one way or the other.

For more information:

Superstition Mountains

Superstition Mountain Museum

Superstition Mountains

Click thumbnail to view full-size
View within the Lost Dutchman State Park. That is a Saguaro on the right.Another view in the park. The yellow flowers are Brittlebush.Rock crushing machine.View of the chapel from inside the barn. On the right, faintly seen, are bridles and other leather devices.Machine and sun.StagecoachOld upright pianoSuperstitions.Superstitions at dusk.Saguaro with a crestate top (cristata). This is probably a genetic mutation. This is one of the best ones I have seen.
View within the Lost Dutchman State Park. That is a Saguaro on the right.
View within the Lost Dutchman State Park. That is a Saguaro on the right.
Another view in the park. The yellow flowers are Brittlebush.
Another view in the park. The yellow flowers are Brittlebush.
Rock crushing machine.
Rock crushing machine.
View of the chapel from inside the barn. On the right, faintly seen, are bridles and other leather devices.
View of the chapel from inside the barn. On the right, faintly seen, are bridles and other leather devices.
Machine and sun.
Machine and sun.
Stagecoach
Stagecoach
Old upright piano
Old upright piano
Superstitions.
Superstitions.
Superstitions at dusk.
Superstitions at dusk.
Saguaro with a crestate top (cristata). This is probably a genetic mutation. This is one of the best ones I have seen.
Saguaro with a crestate top (cristata). This is probably a genetic mutation. This is one of the best ones I have seen.

Tucson Mountains

The Tucson Mountains are a smaller mountain range west of Tucson. Maximum altitude is 4,687 feet. Wasson Peak is the tallest peak in the area. It is the only peak I have ever climbed from the base to the summit.

Most of the Tucson Mountains are in Saguaro National Park West. Right next to the Tucson Mountains on the south are Old Tucson and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Old Tucson is mostly a movie location, used in many westerns. It is open to the public for entertainment when it is not otherwise in use.

I present more information about the Desert Museum elsewhere.

There are two passes through the mountains. Gates Pass is an extension of Speedway Blvd, which goes all the way through Tucson and ends at the Rincon Mountains in the east. The drive down the mountainside toward Old Tucson is spectacular. In the distance, one can see the Quinlan Mountains, where Kitt Peak is located. Kitt Peak is the home of the famous solar telescope. Also in the Quinlans is Baboquivari Peak, said to be the home of I'itoi or Elder Brother (of the Tohono O'odham nation legend). From the description of I'itoi, I am inclined to think it is their concept of Jesus, though His identity has been lost in antiquity. But the legends fit.

The other pass is along Wade Road where it turns into Picture Rocks. It is also beautiful, but very different. You don't have the distant panoramic views you do coming down from Gates Pass.

I have lived in the Tucson Mountains for over 30 years. I have observed the life cycles of many different plants, and have seen 75 species of wildflowers. Over the years, I have seen wildflowers every month of the year. I am an inholder.

An inholder is someone who owns property in or near a national, state, or local park, forest, or monument. Inholders are the first defense concerning any threat to the parks. They are usually the first to spot forest fires, for instance. They are also more familiar with the ecology of their area than almost anyone else.

For more information: Tucson Mountains

Tucson Mountains

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My property shares a border with Saguaro National Park. That makes me an inholder. It is beautiful to live here. The cactus is a saguaro.The area contains a number of beautiful red rocks.Palo Verde trees in bloom.You can see wildlife when you least expect it. This is on my property. It is a Mule Deer.On the other side of the mountain range, close to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.Along the road to the Desert Museum.
My property shares a border with Saguaro National Park. That makes me an inholder. It is beautiful to live here. The cactus is a saguaro.
My property shares a border with Saguaro National Park. That makes me an inholder. It is beautiful to live here. The cactus is a saguaro.
The area contains a number of beautiful red rocks.
The area contains a number of beautiful red rocks.
Palo Verde trees in bloom.
Palo Verde trees in bloom.
You can see wildlife when you least expect it. This is on my property. It is a Mule Deer.
You can see wildlife when you least expect it. This is on my property. It is a Mule Deer.
On the other side of the mountain range, close to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
On the other side of the mountain range, close to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
Along the road to the Desert Museum.
Along the road to the Desert Museum.

Closer to Home

Don't overlook small, intimate places where you can find beauty.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Just some islands in the middle of the Santa Cruz River, with lots of really nice green vegetation (yes, our riparian areas can be quite green). Ducks like this area. The water flows year round because processed city water is released into the area. A very small waterfall in Reid Park, in the center of Tucson.
Just some islands in the middle of the Santa Cruz River, with lots of really nice green vegetation (yes, our riparian areas can be quite green). Ducks like this area. The water flows year round because processed city water is released into the area.
Just some islands in the middle of the Santa Cruz River, with lots of really nice green vegetation (yes, our riparian areas can be quite green). Ducks like this area. The water flows year round because processed city water is released into the area.
A very small waterfall in Reid Park, in the center of Tucson.
A very small waterfall in Reid Park, in the center of Tucson.

Books about Scenic Arizona on Amazon

Arizona scenic drives (A Falcon guide)

by Stewart M Green

Backroads of Arizona: Your Guide to Arizona's Most Scenic Backroad Adventures

by Hinckley Jim

Arizona's Scenic Seasons

by Raymond Carlson

100 Classic Hikes in Arizona

by Scott S. Warren

Have you visited any of these places?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      This is country I've never seen. It seems as strange as the moon to me, but some day I'd like to visit.

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 4 years ago from Naperville, IL

      I have been to several of the places you mentioned. Definitely will add Peridot Mesa, the arboretum, and wildlife refuge to our list next time we travel to your beautiful state. Lovely photos and presentation!

    • GregoryMoore profile image

      Gregory Moore 4 years ago from Louisville, KY

      This is one of the few states that I have not visited. I would love to go there some day.

    • Pat Goltz profile image
      Author

      Pat Goltz 4 years ago

      @BrickExpert: Thank you!

    • BrickExpert profile image

      BrickExpert 4 years ago

      I've visited several of these places - you've captured their beauty so well!

    • Pat Goltz profile image
      Author

      Pat Goltz 4 years ago

      @sukkran trichy: Thank you! I hope you get to come someday.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 4 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      not yet, but i would love to visit there. well presented lens with amazing pictures and details.

    • Pat Goltz profile image
      Author

      Pat Goltz 4 years ago

      @Kailua-KonaGirl: Thank you!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      Very nicely done lens with lovely photos. *Squid Angel Blessed*