Day 3: Tucson Wild West and the Desert

Gate Pass Road

Do you recall the spelling of desert and dessert? I was taught there is one “s” in desert since you only want one, however, for the Sonoran Desert there truly is only one.

Driving to Old Tucson, (Wild West), was a feat on Gate Pass, a road filled with curves and dips. The draw of the scenery while driving was mesmerizing. Stop frequently, take pictures at the pull offs, and breathe in the beauty as bicyclists abound on this road.

Grand Palace Hotel and Saloon

Old Tucson was a familiar site having been a “town” for over 400 movies, television shows, and music venues. It remains active and a recent episode of Chops is one of their latest additions.

High Chaparral was filmed here as was several episodes of Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and some John Wayne movies. Three Amigos with Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Chevy Chase were also filmed here. They ran 300% over budget with their antics, but one can understand with that cast.

Movie star dynamos from Shelley Winters to Liz Taylor, to Michael Landon to 50’s teen idol Ricky Nelson shot here. Recently, Angie Dickinson, now 87, an alum from 50 plus years ago revisited the town.

Gunfight with Sheriff

There is much to see and do throughout the day with gunfights, live music venues, stage coach and train rides. Don’t miss the videos and live explanations of the saloons, mercantile stores, and sheriff law. My favorite was the stunt man show. Be camera ready for excitement at the show’s end. Surprise! Surprise! It’s Hollywood…………

Put this spot on your calendar as the venue is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. All ages would enjoy. There were many seniors in rolling walkers reliving their memories. The site is flat and has several places with air conditioning for reprieve.

The Desert Museum is a neighbor to Old Tucson on Kinney Road. Here lives the animals of the desert, mountain lions, lizards, snakes, along with butterflies and hummingbirds. Many of the animals are rescued and retired which was wonderful to see recycling in action. Walk through the replica cave with its mineral exhibit and visit the aquarium.

Note bird to left

There are many docents who give free tours, guidance and work with the children. From one of the docents I learned the saguaro flowers at certain times of the year. Their flower provides nectar for birds and these flowers have a hard rim for the bird to perch on as they take in the flower’s nectar. The wonders of nature!

Take a moment..

The children seemed to enjoy the butterfly exhibit and had many questions regarding beekeeping. I enjoyed walking the Labyrinth, a meditative walk of concentric circles with a bench to rest at the end of the walk. The museum grounds have many cool spots to sit and rest.

The site opens at 7:30 am and has special evening events and talks. Check their site for specifics,

For those who wish to see more of the desert, Saguaro National Park, is a short jaunt from this Museum.

Tomorrow will continue with some history, old cars and copper mining. Stay tuned.

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