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Picacho/Tucson NW KOA Journey sits smack dab in between Arizona’s two major cities of Phoenix and Tucson. While Phoenix is the largest city in Arizona, Tucson is arguably its cultural capital, where Native American and Mexican cultures mix with the free spirit of the West. Tucson is slightly closer to the RV park and will probably be where you spend most of your time when motorhome camping there.
Camping at Picacho/Tucson NW KOA is a great way to explore the gorgeous desert landscapes surrounding Arizona’s second-largest city. The park has full hookups for your RV rental, including 50-amp electrical capacity. There’s also a swimming pool to cool off in – an absolute necessity in the summer when temperatures regularly top 100 degrees. Brought a canine companion along? There’s also a dog park where they can run around and do their business without you needing to leave the luxuries of the park and your rental RV behind. Picacho/Tucson NW KOA has some of the largest sites too, able to accommodate rigs up to 140 feet long.
You’ll never be short on activities when you camp in an RV near Tucson either; national parks and monuments along with a variety of open spaces make the city a nature lover's dream. For the foodie, the Mexican cuisine, particularly the kind served from a truck, is possibly the best in the nation.
For outdoor adventure close to the RV campground, make the short trip over to Picacho Peak State Park, a few miles south on Interstate 10. The 1,500-foot peak that acts as the centerpiece of park towers over the desert plains, beckoning intrepid hikers to its summit. There are a few different trails ascending it, but the Sunset Vista Trail is its most popular, providing spectacular views after a relatively difficult climb.
When you’re RV camping at Picacho/Tucson NW KOA, you’ll also have the opportunity to visit one of America’s least-visited, but most fascinating parks -Saguaro National Park. Saguaro is split into two sections that sit on the northwest and northeast sides of Tucson, known as the Tucson Mountain District and the Rincon Mountain District, respectively. Both regions have extensive hiking trails, totaling over 150 miles. If you’d prefer the more comfortable environment of an air-conditioned vehicle, there are also a few scenic drives that can be taken while you’re RV camping at the KOA.
If you need a break from the heat in Tucson, one of the few places to get it (without stepping into an air-conditioned building) is Mount Lemmon, about an hour's drive to the north of the city. At its peak, temperatures are nearly 30 degrees cooler than in the city thanks to its 9,000-foot elevation, so you may even need a jacket to ward off the chill. A vast trail network surrounds the mountain, so hiking is one of its most popular activities. However, snow blankets the peak during the winter, making skiing and snowboarding a possibility. There’s also an observatory operated by the University of Arizona that sits on its summit, taking advantage of southern Arizona’s incredibly dark skies and mostly cloudless nights. Check their calendar to see if any star parties are happening while you’re motorhome camping near Tucson.
If you want to get away from the crowds and truly experience the desert landscapes, head south the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, just north of the U.S./Mexico border. Hours from civilization and one of the only places in the world where the Organ Pipe cactus grows, the monument is a sight to be seen if you’re up for the challenge of hiking or camping in such a remote region.
One of the first things many tourists do when visiting Tucson is walk the Turquoise Trail, a 2.5-mile loop through some of the city’s most interesting downtown sights. Catholic cathedrals, Civil Rights monuments, and historical railway depots all dot the route, and it’s the perfect way to get a sense of the city’s culture. Just be sure to bring plenty of water, as an hour of walking can be pretty dehydrating in the summer heat.
The Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum just outside Saguaro’s western half is also an absolute must when you book an RV in Pinal County. The sprawling museum features an aquarium, reptile garden, desert cat exhibits, nature walks through native plant life, and all sorts of displays explaining the complex web of desert ecology. If you believe that only cactuses can survive in the hot, dry conditions of the Sonoran Desert, this museum will really open your eyes to the richness of life contained within it.
One idea for a short trip outside the city is to check out the Mission San Xavier south of Tucson. The 18th-century church is an excellent example of Spanish colonial architecture, complete with ornate carvings and colorful frescoes. It’s considered a “live” church, so don’t be surprised if a service is happening during your visit.