Thursday, January 20, 2022

Sky Islands Scenic Drive and the Loop

We took another drive out to Mt. Lemmon today. It was a much cooler day in the valley, 61 degrees when we started. It got to 36 degrees at the top. It's about a 25 mile drive to the top of Mt. Lemmon, and it's a jaw dropping, breathtakingly beautiful drive all the way. Someone said it's like driving from Mexico to Canada, all in one hour or less drive. 

Fantastic scenery once again, even though it was very cloudy, with rain chance hovering around 45%. Is that SNOW???? about 7,000 feet, you start seeing snow. Lots of it! Sparky gets so excited!
Hey, even Eldo decided to make a snowball. Sparky pelted him with one, and he threw one right back.

Wonderful picnic areas on the side of Mount Lemmon. You can see why this drive is called "Sky Islands". Perfect name for it!

Lots of overlooks and pullouts....

WOWZA! What views!
A view through the trees...
The trails look really rugged and tough....but Sparky will just have to check it out the next time we come back in a few weeks....This one is called Soldier Trail and it was extremely rocky and uneven.
We checked out the ski area near the top of Mount Lemmon. It was closed, but the parking lot was so tiny, we wondered how the skiers could park there on open days.
For the last day of our stay in Tucson, Sparky headed out on the Loop Trail one more time, heading out from Udall Park once again. It is officially known as the Chuck Huckleberry Loop, and is the #1 trail in the US for recreational trails on USA Today's list. Sparky headed east towards a new section of the loop and viewed some more cool art installations. Beautiful iron arch window...
Riverside parks stops to rest and relax...except there is no river currently flowing...
Arroyo Del Fuerte

Here is a bridge over an arroyo--a steep sided gully formed by fast flowing water that seasonally fills and flows after heavy rains...found mainly in the southwest. A wash is very similar, it's a dry bed of a stream that fills and flows only occasionally or seldom. It's usually in a ravine or canyon. They pretty much mean the same and so are now used interchangeably. 

Another view of the bridges Sparky saw on her last bike ride. 
Always, the mountains are within range....(HAHAHAHA...)

How would you like to bike this every day? Sparky would! Well, almost every day if the old body would permit it.

One of the cool sections on The Loop is a series of memory gardens near Pantano River Park. There are SEVEN specialty gardens--Each is a series of commemorative trees with a special motif or theme to mark the passing of someone special, to celebrate life or a special occasion. The gardens are: The Garden of the Children, Garden of the Families, Garden of the Masks, Garden of the Flute Players, (Sparky's mom loved Kokopelli--the flute player) Garden of the Winter Solstice, Garden of the Summer Solstice, and Garden of the Sun. Some of the commemorative trees have painted rocks or expressions of loss, hopes and dreams in unique forms at the site. Sparky saw a couple of glass bottles with messages inside at one site. You can really get a feel for the person's life and what they were like by studying the site. At the start of each garden area is a big panel with the numbers of the sites and the person's name represented. What a wonderful way to remember someone!

What a ride on the loop today! About 21 miles this time....Sparky went looking for a website that tells you all about the art installations' locations along the trail and here it is...

And off we go to our next destination....Cottonwood, AZ, about 35 min. from Sedona. We will be exploring the area a LOT, hopefully. We are staying at the Thousand Trails Verde Valley in Cottonwood for 11 days.....The vistas are amazing! Stay tuned for more about the park and our explorations....See you down the road!

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