We enjoyed our week moochdocking in Tucson, but to us these day trips outperformed city life.
Tucson’s best day trips:
Wine Country: (1 hr from city) Tucson actually has two wine “countries”… Wilcox & Sonoita-Elgin (we only made it to Sonoita-Elgin). I put the word countries in quotations to remind you that we are completely spoiled by the last seven years in San Francisco, day tripping to wine countries such as Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Healdsburg, Paso Robles etc. (Currently typing with my nose in the air). Ok, back to Tucson’s best wine stops:
- Sonoita-Elgin : All tastings in this region are $10 or less. If you bring your own glass from the Sonoita-Elgin region, tastings usually max out at $5. So spend the $10 at the first winery you visit (which will include the tasting and the glass you drink from) and then bring that glass to each subsequent winery you visit to receive the tasting discount. Make sure to check winery hours before setting out for the day… weekday vs. weekend hours could leave you thirsty.
Best Historic Small Town: (1.75hrs from city) The Europeanesque, old copper/gold/silver mining town of Bisbee, voted best historic small town of 2016 in USA Today and Sunset Magazine is the perfect place to spend a day or two escaping Tucson’s hustle.
- Take in views of the old Lavender Pit, a decommissioned open-pit copper mine that’s marked today by the large gash left in the earth’s crust. The mine yielded 90 ish million tons of copper ore before stopping in 1974.
- Participate in the Bisbee 1000 – Climb nine staircases (over 1000 steps) affording views of the town’s quaint houses and colorful gardens.
- Enjoy a beer at Old Bisbee Brewing Company.
- Explore old copper and gold mines in a hardhat and miners light on a Queen Mine Tour.
- Eat dinner at CafeROKA (we missed this delicious meal, they are only open Thurs-Sunday).
Best Cave in U.S.: (1 hr from city) Kartchner Caverns State Park is home to 2.4 miles of Limestone cave passages.
- Take a cave tour of their Throne Room or Big Room. Throne Room is known for a 21’ soda straw stalactite (longest in the world) and a 58’ column named Kubla Khan after this poem. The Big Room, closed in the Summer due to roosting bats, is known for its’ extensive moonmilk formations. Both take a little more than 1 hr. (No pics allowed in caves, google images here).
- Hike the 4.2 mi Guindani Trail and/or the 2.5mi Foothills Loop Trail. Guindani is a steeper but longer hike on the edge of the Whetstone Mountains in the Coronado National Forest. The Foothills trail is beautiful at sunset. Both leave from the State Park.
- Camp in one of 60 beautiful sites at the State Park making day trips to Wine Country and Bisbee even easier!
The Wonderland of Rocks: (2hrs from city) 27 million years ago, a large volcanic eruption in the Chiricahua Mountains left behind volcanic ash which eroded into hoodoos and balancing rocks at Chiricahua National Monument. The rock formations are very similar to what we experienced in Bryce National Park (and you will see about 25 times less people)! You can easily spend a day outside enjoying the park’s eight mile scenic drive, Faraway Ranch and over 15 miles of day hike trails. Here are our favs:
- Sugarloaf Mountain Trail – 1.8miRT hike to one of the tallest lookouts in the Park. During Summer months, staff monitors lightning strikes from the CCC constructed lookout hut.
- The Big Loop – 8.3miRT hike that combines the best of Chiricahua scenery, map here. Echo Canyon Trail → Upper Rhyolite Canyon Trail → Sarah Deming Trail → Heart of Rocks Loop → Big Balanced Rock Trail → Mushroom Rock Trail → Ed Riggs Trail