Do you want to hike in Tucson among Saguaros with your dog? Saguaro National Park is beautiful but you will be limited to viewing the Saguaros from your car and 2 very short paved trails. Today was a great day. We got to hike with Gizmo on dog friendly trails through Saguaros with a jagged mountain backdrop. We discovered Catalina State Park, just north of Tucson. This is a small but beautiful state park. There is about 5.75 miles of dog friendly trails. There are not as many Saguaros here as at the National Park, but they are still plentiful and of all different shapes and sizes. We chose to hike the Canyon Loop Trail and take the short side trail out to Montrose Pools. Dogs can only go as far as the park boundary right at Montrose Pools. They are prohibited from going further because of the presence of big horn sheep. This was an unusual desert hike as we had multiple stream crossings and we got to see water flowing in Montrose Pools.
This loop with the side trip to the pool is 3.3 miles and relatively flat.
There is very little shade, it was 70 degrees when we hiked and we felt very warm. I can’t imagine how hot it can get during warmer months. We were lucky to see signs of the start of spring as we walked the trail.
Take advantage of the many park benches scattered throughout the loop. They are great place to take a break and enjoy the scenery.
We finished our morning with a picnic lunch in the park before we headed off on our next adventure. We had decided to take the afternoon to see the Mission San Xavier del Bac. This is a Catholic mission that was built between 1783-1797. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1963 and is considered to be the best example of Spanish colonial architecture in the United States. It is nicknamed “The White Dove.”
The interior is filled with original statues and murals and is absolutely breathtaking.
This is still an active mission for it’s community but is open for people to visit and enjoy. The mission is visited by over 200,000 people each year from all over the world. There is a museum and gift shop. The mission sells smokeless prayer candles for $3 and helps support their restoration efforts. This is a beautiful church and should not be missed if you are in the Tucson area.