Our latest visit to Tucson, Arizona has taken us to a few well-known places, but mostly off the beaten path to some fabulous, lesser known destinations. If birding or nature photography are among your interests, add these to your checklist of must-see spots within about an hour’s drive of Tucson, some within the city, itself.
Pacific Coast Highway 101 runs from southern California to Washington. It’s a very scenic highway, but one that requires the driver's full attention. The road in many places is narrow, windy and hilly. You can expect to negotiate steep grades and sharp curves along most of its length.
To say that Canyonlands National Park in Utah is huge is a massive understatement. It would take days to visit only the highlights. The park covers 337,598 acres and is divided into three separate areas, Island in the Sky, The Maze, and The Needles. On our short visit in September we only had time for the Island in the Sky district, which was the section closest to Moab. With more time and a 4WD vehicle, it would be a blast to explore the rest of the park.
The drive into Moab, Utah and Arches National Park features an abrupt and spectacular change of scenery from plains to colorful cliffs and canyons. Moab, itself, is rustic and eclectic, not quite the typical tourist trap. It sports several restaurants, bars, lodging, stores featuring local artists, and places to rent or buy a bike, ATV, jeep, or kayak. Outdoor patios were full to capacity on each of our drives through town, all of them with misters and fans to keep patrons cool.
It was threatening rain the day we decided to tour the Colorado National Monument. We thought about staying home, but it was now or never, so we packed a lunch, threw our rain gear in the car, and set out to at least drive through the area. By doing so, we witnessed a rare treat – and it was instantly obvious why one must beware of flash flooding while exploring new areas.
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