Tips for RVing in Tucson – A Great Winter Destination!
Tips for RVing in Tucson – A Great Winter Destination!
Attractions, KOA review, scenic drives, and more …
By: Kenny & Sabrina Phillips
Looking for warm weather this winter? Then look no further than Tucson, Arizona, especially if you are like me and enjoy weather that is dry and free of rain. Tucson has more than just great winter weather; Tucson also has one of our favorite campgrounds, plenty of sightseeing, and great choices for outdoor activities.
Where We Stay When RVing in Tucson
I don’t think it is any secret that Sabrina and I are fans of KOA campgrounds, we enjoy them because they are consistently good. Even after staying at over 50 different KOAs, we have never had a bad experience at any of them. The KOA in Tucson takes this to a whole new level by offering a truly resort style stay, with a restaurant/bar on site, pickle ball courts, basketball court, 9-hole chip and put, two pools, hot tubs, and a fitness center.
They also offer unique campsites – some with double decker patios to get you a little closer to the stars, and others have private fenced-in pet yards for your fury companions. There are also several community dog parks throughout the property, one of them being the largest dog park we have ever seen at a KOA.
One of the other things about this KOA that we like is that it is environmentally friendly by using a solar power parasol. The power parasols not only create shade for your RV (which will reduce the amount of energy needed to run your A/C), but they are also fitted with solar panels providing clean energy back into the campground. The sites that are under these massive sun blockers go fast, so if you are interested in parking in that section make your reservation as early as possible. Sabrina and I have stayed at this KOA several times and it is always a good time, with a friendly staff and a real vacation feel.
My Favorite Bike Trail in Tucson
After you arrive at the KOA, you will see there are plenty of activities to keep you in motion, but my favorite way to stay active in Tucson is what is known as The Loop. This is a paved two-lane biking/running path. It really stands out from other bike paths that I have been on because it is painted to look like a highway – dotted line and all.
This path can be accessed right down the street from the campground so no need to drive to it, just hop on your bike or go on foot if that is your preferred choice. The Loop is over 120 miles long, so even if you like to ride fast, there is no shortage of trail for you to cover. It is mostly very scenic as you travel through the outskirts of the city enjoying the desert views, but it also changes up as you go through some urban city landscapes. It is definitely an enjoyable ride with plenty to see and it's e-bike friendly which my knees appreciate.
Scenic Drives Near Tucson
Ok, so maybe biking or running is not your thing, but you would still like to see some classic desert views. I have two great options for you: a drive out to Mount Lemmon and the Saguaro National Park East Loop.
The drive to Mount Lemmon is a 26-mile long scenic by-way. During the drive you can experience up to a thirty-degree drop in temperature, so if you make the trip and want to stop at any of the scenic outlook areas, be sure to bring a jacket. There are also plenty of areas to pull over and have a picnic or do some hiking.
This drive is something that we do a few times a year and the views are always breathtaking. If you drive to the very top of the mountain, you will find a small town that offers restaurants, coffee shops, and even skiing when the weather is just right. I would say the only thing to be very careful of is the extreme cyclists who use this by-way as a way to push themselves to the limit. These roads are very windy, and it can be difficult to see around the rock corners.
The second scenic drive that we recommend is the Saguaro National Park East Loop; it is an eight-mile drive around the park. It is a very slow and calming drive with traffic only going in one direction. Our small dog Belle likes this drive because it is slow enough that she can have her head out the window the entire time.
This drive also offers scenic overlooks and picnic areas where you can get out and stretch your legs as well as some spectacular views of saguaro cacti. The saguaro cacti are the traditional looking cacti from cartoons and westerns, definitely worth the drive out there to see them up close.
Did you know saguaro cacti can easily grow to forty feet tall and they don’t usually start growing arms until they reach seventy-five years old?
Observing Wildlife (Safely)
Sabrina and I have always found the vegetation to be very interesting in the desert, but also dangerous. We often compare Arizona to the Disney movie Pandora because everything looks like it can and will hurt you. Well, the wildlife in Arizona is no different, with venomous snakes, spiders, and centipedes, plus bob cats, mountain lions, and more animals that you need to be cautious of while hiking out in the wild. That is why we enjoy going to the Desert Museum, which is also located in Tucson. Here you can see all the wildlife I just mentioned and more in a safe environment.
They also have a large array of birds such as Great Horned Owls, hawks, and ravens and the museum puts on shows to explain how they hunt. The price of admission to the museum is worth this show alone as the birds soar around you and demonstrate their skill. Keep in mind most of this museum is outdoors, but there are some displays inside (like the aquarium) to give you a chance to take a break from the sun.
A Foodie Favorite
For being in the desert, there surely is no shortage of food options in Tucson. Sabrina and I mostly make all of our meals in our Winnebago, but there are occasions when we will get takeout from the restaurant that is on the KOA property.
If you would like to really treat yourself though, our favorite restaurant in Tucson is LaCo Tucson, an all outdoor seating restaurant that is described as a rustic cantina. The atmosphere and food are perfect to get your night started or cap off the end to a perfect day out in the desert.
What We Want to See on Our Next Trip to Tucson
As often as Sabrina and I go to Tucson, there is still something on our list that we want to see that we have not done yet and that is the Pima Air & Space Museum. We have had several friends visit this museum and they all rave about it! The museum sits on eighty acres of land and features about 400 historic aircrafts.
When Sabrina and I finally do make it to the museum, I will add what we thought of it down in the comments below. And I urge you to please leave us a comment about anything mentioned in this article or let us know of something that you like to do or a place to stay in Tucson that is not mentioned here. (You can also read our tips for Southeast Arizona here).
Take care and we wish you safe travels!
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