Gilbert Ray Campground
I love the desert. The desert is an exotic environment to me. I am mesmerized by the stark beauty, dark night skies, and the plants and animals that can adapt to such a hostile environment. I live in a place where clean quality water is plentiful. That is one problem we do not have in Ohio. When planning this trip, Melizza and I had our sights set on Arizona and the famous Saguaro cacti that dot the landscape of the Sonoran Desert around Tucson. I had done my research and had high expectations. Those expectations were exceeded. I fell in love with majestic saguaro that surrounded us in Tucson.
The drive from Santa Fe was uneventful. It is amazing to travel the vast open spaces in the western United States. One highlight of our journey were the green chile burritos that were sold by a Mexican woman at the gas station in New Mexico. The chiles here are so tasty on everything from blue corn enchiladas to cheeseburgers. We passed through the chili capital of New Mexico and we stopped in the western town of Tombstone. It is touristy for certain but if you enjoy a little stroll through an Old West Town with people dressed in period costume, this is the place. We walked into Big Nosed Kate's Saloon and the OK Corral.
After I quick break, we moved on to the Tucson area. To say I loved the campground at Gilbert Ray would be an understatement. The setting is just beautiful as the park is surrounded by mountains and characterized by the "forests" of saguaro cacti, palo verde trees, prickly pear cactus and cholla. Gilbert Ray is a county park. It is close to Tucson and all of its attractions but is shielded from the city by mountains. So if you crave an In 'N' Out Burger or have a delicious Sonoran Dog at El Guero Canelo, you are ten minutes away. The only reminder that your are near the city are the occasional flights of Blackhawk helicopters from a nearby base. Just about every campsite boasts a nice view or a saguaro cactus nearby. The campsites electric only so you need to bring water or fill before proceeding to your site. The campground is adjacent to the western branch of Saguaro National Park and the magnificent Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is just a few miles away. There are hiking trails the meander through the desert through washes and up the mountains. In short, it was just what we wanted.
|Spacious Campsites are the norm.|
|The Saguaro tower over the Airstream|
All of my kids grew up reading the imaginative book Cactus Hotel by Brenda Guiberson. This children's book tells the story of the journey of a saguaro seed protected by the shade of the palo verde tree that grows into a Cactus Hotel that houses all forms of desert animals. These giants of the desert live up to 200 years and grow to well over seventy feet tall. They don't grow arms until they are 75 to 100 years old. The descriptions in this well written book were so vivid that child and adult alike have a sense of the place just by reading. Our stay here brought that story to life.
|Dream it and then do it.|
|The Sun Comes Up In a Coffee Cup|
|Junior Ranger Homework|
|Ethan and Lucy getting their first Junior Ranger Badges of the trip at Saguaro National Park|
Ethan celebrated his 11th birthday here with a trip to the Titan Missile Museum and lunch at El Guero Canelo. I will save the great museums of Tucson for a later entry but suffice it to say Arizona is a great spring destination for families.