I love Tucson and had a chance to visit for a long weekend for a friend’s wedding, and after the festivities were over I was determined to get out for a hike! I’m from the rainy northwest, so I love experiencing the desert whenever I get a chance. I met up with an old friend from Tucson and we decided to check out Ventana Canyon. Sabino Canyon is a better known hiking spot, and I enjoyed it on a previous trip, but Ventana Canyon is a bit rougher and less crowded so I wanted to check it out.
We decided to take the trail up the canyon towards “The Window,” a rock formation about five miles up the trail. Unfortunately, we left so late in the day that we weren’t able to make it the whole way and instead stopped at the Maiden pools around two miles up the trail. It was a fairly strenuous climb up the canyon through gorgeous scenery and really cool desert plants. The views back down towards the trailhead were gorgeous and I loved seeing the huge saguaros and other cactuses.
A real highlight of this hike was spotting a gila monster along the trail. Another hiker had noticed him and called us over to take a look. That was one unhappy lizard! I was thrilled to see beautiful desert scenery and wildlife on such a short urban hike. It felt like we were very far from the city, even though the starting point was the parking lot for my hotel!
If you do this one, be prepared for lots of spiky plants and take extra water. We did it on a cool day, but still should have taken more water than we did. Sunset is beautiful up there, but take a light so you can get down safely!