An exclusive MTS exploration of the Southwest’s lushest and most intriguing desert ecosystem
Just last year we started offering a weeklong exploration of the mountains of the southwest. Where else can you go in the United States in February or March and see dozens of wildflowers and hike beautiful trails in shorts bathed in warm sunshine. While most of our country is still gripped in winter this southern part of Arizona has come alive. This is the peak time of year to visit our lushest desert system.
We base this trip on the outskirts of Tuscon and Phoenix. Careful planning with the United States Government and several regional conservation organizations have set up an enviable system of huge wilderness preserves and a recreational wonderland.
We have put together a star studded itinerary that hits all the highlights of the region; the Superstiton Wilderness famous for its craggy volcanic peaks, the Santa Catalina Mountains where there are waterfalls and migrating birds singing along a rambling desert stream, and the Pusch Ridge Wilderness famous for its craggy granite spires. The ever present Saguaro Cactus, our nations largest, is everywhere, but also are all the other wonderous species that comprise the most diverse southwestern ecosystem in our country.
6 days moderate hiking
- Traverse North America’s lushest desert on this MTS exclusive itinerary, and get up close and personal with that iconic giant of the Southwest—the saguaro cactus!
- Soak in six sunny days of hiking on moderate terrain with sweeping vistas at every turn
- Get away from it all in an otherworldly landscape, without traveling too far from home
- Learn about the plants, wildlife, and history of Arizona from our expert naturalist guides
- See ancient petroglyphs, kayak down the Salt River, and visit the Sonoran Desert Museum, a world-class natural history museum
Duration: 6 days Start Location: Phoenix End Location: PhoenixDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area
In the spring there is water in Cave Creek, and in the desert water is magic! We take a great hike on the Spur Cross Loop Trail near Elephant Mountain. (5.5 miles hiking 600 feet gain and loss)
Day 2 : McDowell Sonoran Preserve
We'll head northeast toward the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and the Tom's Thumb trailhead. We begin our trip with a great climb into rambling granite boulders. At our summit we can take in the whole Valley of the Sun. (4 miles - 800 feet gain and loss)
Day 3 : Pusch Ridge Wilderness
It is only a couple of hours to drive from the Valley of the Sun to the Santa Catalina Mountains. This leaves us plenty of time for a great afternoon hike. We start walking in Catalina State Park and are soon in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. The Wilderness area ranges from 2800-9100 feet. This is one of the most precipitous rises in the southwest. In fact if you were to hike the entire mountain it would be like taking a trip from Mexico to Canada. (4-6 miles - 400-1000 feet)
Day 4 : Saguaro National Park and the Sonoran Desert Museum
Hike the high desert forests of Saguaro National Park and take an optional hike to the summit of Wasson Peak (4,687'), the highest peak in the Tuscon Mountains. Lunch and exploration at the world-renowned Sonoran Desert Museum.
(3.5-7 miles - 600-1700 feet gain and loss)
Day 5 : Sabino Canyon and Seven Falls
Starting at the base of Sabino Canyon we move into Bear Canyon and hike upstream to Sevin Falls. It is rare to have water in the desert. This is one of the most stunnig places in the Sonoran Desert.
(5 miles hiking- 650 feet gain and loss)
Day 6 : Superstition Mountains Wilderness
Depart for the Peralta Trail in the Superstition Mountains. This route from the southern end of the Superstion Wilderness takes us up to a ridge overlooking Weaver's Needle (5 miles - 1200 feet gain and loss)
DATES: Best time to go: February - April, October - November Departures: Nov 24 - 29, 2013 Dec 8 - 13, 2013
Rates quoted are per person, based on sharing double accommodations.
Cave Creek Tumbleweed HotelCave Creek, AZ
Cave Creek’s Tumbleweed hotel was established in 1968 by local Cave Creekers who wanted to continue the tradition of Cave Creek’s small town hospitality. The Tumbleweed Hotel is Cave Creek’s only main street hotel and continues to be part of the fabric of the town by maintaining its Western style decor.
Westward Look ResortTucson, AZ
It’s tranquil, yet mesmerizing. Private, yet wide open. A distinctive Tucson hotel where historic charm and modern luxury unite. Welcome to Westward Look Resort…Tucson’s first and finest resort.
Built in the early 1900s, our 80-acre, certified green resort is flawlessly set at the base of the striking Santa Catalina Mountains. A favorite Tucson hotel and vacation destination, Westward Look offers visitors of all ages the joy of getting close to nature with on-site hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. Views of the mountains and city below abound, creating a true sense of serenity.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.