Tucson is on the Eastern edge of the Sonoran Desert. This means, Tucson gets hot during the summer. With an average high temperature of 99 degrees in June, living in Tucson during the summer can seem like a nightmare.
Luckily, Tucson is a transportation hub. You can easily drive, fly, or train to multiple “cooler” destinations. If you can’t travel, there are still a lot of ways to beat the heat in Tucson this summer. Here are our top five ways to beat the heat this June and maintain cool all summer long:
- Visit Mt. Lemmon
With highs in the 60s and 70s, you’ll feel like you’re in a whole new world once you make the short 45 mile drive up Mt. Lemmon Highway. Mt. Lemmon has tons to do during the summer.
If you are a foodie, check out the Mt. Lemmon General Store’s fudge selection. My personal favorite is the Mint Chocolate Swirl, but Cookies N’ Cream is delicious as well. Actually, I don’t think you could go wrong with any of their flavors. The fudge is made fresh in-house every day. It’s also only $11.89 per pound
To burn off all those extra calories from fudge, try hiking. Mt. Lemmon has more hiking trails to shake a stick at. Ranging from easy to super-duper hard, everyone should be able to find a trail that suits their needs. Even if you don’t want to hike, you can take the sky ride to the summit. The ride takes about ½ hour and covers approximately 1 mile. You depart the base of the ski area near 8200 foot elevation and climb to 9100 feet. There are more hiking trails available from the top of the peak as well.
By the way, did you know that Mt. Lemmon got its name from the first white woman who dared to climb it? It was in 1881, when the US Cavalry still pursued Apaches and gunslingers fought it out at Tombstone’s OK Corral that Sara Allen Plummer Lemmon, a slender, dark-haired woman of 45 challenged and then conquered the mountain that loomed over the old Spanish Pueblo called Tucson. To read the full history click here. (http://mtlemmon.com/how-did-mt-lemmon-get-its-name/)
- Take In Some Of The History Of Air & Space At The Pima Air & Space Museum
The Pima Air & Space Museum is one of the largest non-government funded aviation and space museums in the world! Featuring over 300 historical aircrafts, from a Wright Flyer to a 787 Dreamliner. Over the past forty years, the museum has grown immensely and today encompasses five indoor exhibit hangars (two dedicated to WWII).
You can take part in guided walking tours and museum ground Tram Tours daily. The museum is the exclusive offeror of bus tours of the 2,600-acre “Aircraft Boneyard”/U.S. military and government aircraft storage facility, Monday-Friday. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day and for the low price of $15.50 a day for adults, you can cool down in this MASSIVE museum anytime you want.
The museum features over 100 indoor panoramas and 150 indoor planes. These range from old fighter jets to space suits. If you are daring to face the heat, the museum has over 150 planes on 80 acres outdoors.
The museum has been featured in movies like Transformers and Can’t Buy Me Love, it has found its place in Tucson already.
(Can’t buy me love)
To read the full history of the museum to start planning your visit click here: (http://www.pimaair.org/explore/history)
- Learn About Your Home At The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Maybe you want to learn a little bit about why it’s so hot here or about what kind of wildlife can actually survive a summer in Tucson. The Desert Museum is ranked on TripAdvisor.com as one of the Top 10 Museums in the country and the #1 Tucson attraction. However, you won’t be super cool at this museum. Unlike most museums, about 85% of the experience is outdoors! The 98 acre Desert Museum is a fusion experience: zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium.
Open on Sunday – Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., you’ll be able to find a nice cool time to visit the museum. For only $20.50 for adults, you can explore the 21 interpreted acres with two miles of walking paths through various desert habitats, 230 animal species, 1,200 types of plants — 56,000 individual specimens, and one of the world’s most comprehensive regional mineral collections.
The Museum was founded in 1952 and is dedicated to the interpretation of the bi-national Sonoran Desert region. The newest addition, The Warden Aquarium, opened in January 2013. It’s a freshwater gallery focuses on the region’s rivers, native fish and conservation efforts while the salt-water gallery showcases marine life from the Gulf of California. A hands-on touch tank offers twice-daily interpretations for visitors. Currently, you can pet live stingrays. Something I bet you never thought you would be able to do in Tucson.
- Reach For The Stars At Kitt Peak National Observatory
While it’s a good drive away, Kitt Peak is located 56 miles southwest of Tucson in the Schuk Toak District on the Tohono O’odham Nation, Kitt Peak National Observatory has been voted the most romantic Tucson location.
Sharing the mountaintop site with the National Solar Observatory, Kitt Peak National Observatory was founded in 1958. It operates three major nighttime telescopes and hosts the facilities of consortia which operate 22 optical telescopes and two radio telescopes. Home of the largest array of optical and radio telescopes in the world. The Visitor Center is open from 9:00 AM to 3:45 PM for daytime visitors and tours. Admission is free to the Visitor Center, but they do charge fees for daily guided tours and programs.
The nightly programs are awesome though. You can take part in the “Nightly Observing Program Your introductory” a family-oriented stargazing program, or the “Dark Sky Discovery Program” a small-group observing program for people who have already begun their astronomy adventure. There are also guided tours of telescopes.
However, the real beauty is up above. You won’t find a better place to star gaze in the state. If you dream of visiting outer space or just want to contemplate life, Kitt Peak is a beautiful place to do it.
- Take A Hike In The Water Of Aravaipa Canyon
Aravaipa Canyon is one of the most beautiful hikes in Southern Arizona.
It’s a nice hike through a pretty canyon along, and in, a stream. With no maintained trails, this is a perfect hike for explorers. Whether you want to frolic in the stream or explore a side canyon, you’ll have a blast in Aravaipa Canyon. It’s a beautiful desert canyon that has water flowing in it year-round, but be careful of flash floods during monsoon season.
A permit is required even for a day hike into this canyon and must be booked ahead of time from the BLMs Safford Field Office, (520) 348-4400. Fee is $5 per person per day and is limited to 50 people per day. Plan on hiking about a mile per hour due to the ever-changing terrain.
Also plan on leaving early, it’s not an easy place to get to. It’s about a 70 mile, 2 hour, drive from Tucson to the West Trailhead and a 148 mile, 3 hour, drive from Tucson to the East Trailhead. However, the canyon and it’s beauty are worth the time taken.
Whether you want to visit the cool top of Mt. Lemmon, star gaze at Kitt Peak, or just learn about your desert neighbors at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, you will find a way to cool down this summer…..or you know, you could always just sit at home and watch Netflix. Your call.