Best Desert Drive

Tucson Mountain Park to Saguaro National Park West

Staff Pick

When you've had enough and need a quick escape, there's nothing like this drive to remind you of what really matters. (Just remember to bring water!) Take Speedway Boulevard west to Tucson Mountain Park, and you are instantly surrounded by saguaro, ironwood, ocotillo, mesquite, jojoba and prickly pear. Go over Gates Pass (while feeling appropriately vertiginous), and turn right at Kinney Road. (Ignore the blasphemous blot of Old Tucson.) Continue on to the right-hand turn-off for Saguaro National Park. Go past the visitors' center, turning right on the Bajada Loop Drive. Turn right again at Golden Gate Road. At the pavement, turn right on Picture Rocks Road, and head back into Tucson. You'll see craggy, ancient saguaros in all their wild, crazy, funky forms. Birds. Lizards. Maybe a poet or two. Life is good.

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