After flying into Phoenix and spending the night there Tuscon was our next stop. We had flown from Sydney via Auckland and L.A. total traveling time to Phoenix was 24 hours. We spent the extra and flew Premium Economy, after doing that for the past few overseas trips I will never go back to long haul economy class. A nights sleep in Phoenix and we were refreshed and ready to put in a full day.
Tuscon was an unknown quantity, we planned to visit both East and West Saguaro National Parks and The Boneyard but that was the extent of our forward planning. It was hot, very hot when we arrived, around 106 F. We decided that next day we would drive up to Mt. Lemmon to escape the heat, it was much too hot to hike in the parks. Mt Lemmon was a real surprise, beautiful alpine scenery and shady hikes through the pine trees.. The 29 mile road to the top results in a 5000ft. elevation gain, the road was packed with hundreds of super fit cyclists on their weekend training rides. Very impressive. We did a short 5 km. hike on the Box Camp Trail, a nice way to get the body into the new time zone.
Box Camp Trail
Saguaro National Park was a bit disappointing, the western area of the park especially. The eastern part has more to offer but with hindsight we could have saved the $15 entry fee. The lower slopes of Mt. Lemmon have plenty of areas of cactus as do the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix, especially beside the Peralta Trail near Phoenix. We did a 5 km. hike in Saguaro East along the Douglas Spring Trail, it was a nice hike with interesting plants and scenery but eventually the heat sent us back to the car.
Douglas Spring Trail.
The Pima Air & Space Museum was very good, you could spend all day there and not see it all. The volunteers are friendly and very knowledgeable, in a few cases it was difficult to get away from them.
The Boneyard Tour was a disappointment, you are confined to a bus and the tour is rushed. You only see a very small section of the more than 7000 planes that are stored there and photography is difficult through the tinted windows of the bus. You would see more if you drove around the perimeter fences. The amount of money that the US has spent on the military is staggering, little wonder that basic infrastructure in that country is poor. The military machine is like a giant vacuum cleaner.