- Southern Arizona is a region of desert lowlands, high desert and rugged, forest-topped mountains. The city of Tucson lies at the heart of this region. This region is also rich in cultural heritage. Early Native Americans built thriving communities here and remnants of these still exist. Spanish explorers and missionaries later brought the influences of Spain and Mexico. These are evident throughout the region, especially in the historic missions.
Copyright: USDA Forest Service
Saguaro, on the Coronado National Forest
One of the most spectacular natural features in Southern Arizona is Kartchner Caverns State Park. This stunning cave has been named one of the top ten caves in the world. Colossal Cave Mountain Park, also in this region, is one of the largest dry caverns in the world. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Saguaro National Park and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Park provide spectacular examples of the desert in this region.
The Santa Catalina Mountains rise from the outskirts of Tucson and include beautiful Sabino Canyon and many other scenic mountain areas. The Santa Catalina Mountains lie within the Coronado National Forest, which encompasses much of the mountainous terrain throughout the region. Chiricahua National Monument, is a mecca for hikers and birders. Chiricahua plants and animals represent one of the premier areas for biological diversity in the northern hemisphere. Madera Canyon, near Green Valley on the Coronado National Forest, provides outstanding scenery and attracts birders from around the world. Other popular bird watching areas include the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, near the town of Patagonia, and the Ramsey Canyon Preserve, in the Huachuca Mountains.
Recreation - Southern Arizona offers outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities. Due to the climate and elevation ranges, many different activities are available and are possible year round. Some of the most popular activities in the area include hiking, camping, bird watching, horseback riding, mountain biking, and sightseeing. Skiing is even possible in the mountains outside Tucson. In this region, a person can ski in the snow and hike on the desert on the same day!
Climate - Winters in this area bring beautiful weather, with mild warm days (60- 70F) and cool nights (40's). Summers can be extremely hot with daytime temperatures of 100-115 degrees, and evening lows in the 70's to 80's. Long hikes are not recommended in the summer. Even short hikes require lots of water, a hat, and sun screen lotion. The higher elevations of this area experience much cooler temperatures and higher amounts of precipitation. The mountains of this region often receive snowfall during the winter months.
The Southern Arizona Region includes the areas around Tucson, Nogales, Douglas, and Tombstone. Interstates 10 and 19 both lead through the region.