7 Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona

Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

We Explored Tucson And Found Lots Of Things To See And Do

Tucson was the final stop on our fall trip to Utah and Arizona. We planned a great pampering stay at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain. But also took some time and explored some of the fall things to do on Tucson, Arizona.

We were not surprised to find that there were many reasons to head back to Tucson for a return visit.

1) Visit The Saguaro National Park

As we came down in altitude from our stay in Page, Arizona and then in the Sedona Valley, the landscape changed rapidly. We lost the stunning red rocks. Approaching Phoenix we saw our first large fields of Saguaro cactus. And quickly came to recognize many other varieties of cactus.

Arizona Cactus.jpg

There are two different sites for the Seguaro National Park in Tucson. We visited the park at the Rincon Mountain District. We planned to visit the other location in the Tucson Mountain District. It was known for its sunset views. But we simply ran out of time.

We were happy to find that our National Park pass got us into the park. At the visitor centre we stopped to get a bit of information about what we would find in the park. There were several hiking paths. But we chose to drive the loop and stop at the many observation points.

Seguaro National Park.jpg

Seguaro National Park.jpg

The loop through the Saguaro National Park was a single lane road. It wound its way around with twists and turns and ups and downs. In the distance we saw hills and mountains.

Seguaro National Park Scenic Loop.jpg

Seguaro National Park Scenic Loop - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

There were signs that reminded us we shared the road with bikes and turtles. And signs warned bicyclists about the hazards they might find.

Seguaro National Park Scenic Loop.jpg

Seguaro National Park Scenic Loop.jpg

See The Cactus In The Saguaro National Park

The park was one of the great fall things to do in Tucson. On a mid-week visit, very few people drove the cactus loop. We stopped to take pictures as we drove. And at the empty observation points. There were signs that provided more information.

We saw a great variety of Saguaro cactus as we drove around. But when we stopped at the “Sequaro Forest”, we were surprised that the density of cactus was quite low. One of the signs explained this.

Seguaro National Park Cactus - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Seguaro National Park Cactus - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Seguaro National Park Cactus.jpg

Seguaro National Park Cactus.jpg

In 1937 and again in 1962 the cactus population was decimated by frost and cold temperatures that stayed around for more than 24 hours. There were fears that the cactus would be gone by the 1990’s. But the cactus proved to be far more resilient and the Seguaro forest was re-growing.

We saw many other kinds of cactus as we stopped around the loop. We looked for prickly pear cactus leaves that looked like hearts. The teddy bear cactus definitely looked fuzzy.

Seguaro National Park Cactus.jpg

 Seguaro National Park Cactus Teddy Bear Cholla - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

We were fascinated by the bushes that looked like kelp trees. Not cactus but desert plants that survived with little water. When we looked close we saw the hooks on the fish hook barrel cactus. And a few cactus with red blooms. But we really wanted to return to Arizona when the spring bloom was on.

 Seguaro National Park Cactus Kelp.jpg

 Seguaro National Park Cactus Barrel - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

When we wanted to learn more about cactus, a visit to the Saguaro National Park was a great one of the fall things to do in Tucson. When we did a sunset hike at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain, we took the opportunity to learn even more from Ranger Steve.

2) Look For Wildlife In The Sonoran Desert Area

We never specifically looked for wildlife on our visit to Tucson. But we found it. Sometimes in the most unexpected places.

We found cactus everywhere. But when we looked close we often saw the Cactus wren birds. One night we saw a woodpecker drilling a hole in the cactus for the wrens to nest.

Cactus Wren - Arizona Wildlife.jpg

During our visit to Arizona, we were amazed at how green and lush we found some areas. And this vegetation drew in dragonflys and butterflies.

Butterfly - Arizona Wildlife - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

When we hiked around the property at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain, we caught sight of hares darting around. But we were delighted when we finally caught sight of the elusive Javelina pigs. Although we were wary to stay away from the sharp hooves.

Hare - Arizona Wildlife.jpg

Javelina Pig - Arizona Wildlife - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

We grew up on Loony Toon cartoons and have amusing memories of the RoadRunner cartoons. This large bird beeped and ran off as it tempted the Coyote. When we saw our first roadrunner on our visit to Tucson, we were surprised to see how small it really was!

Roadrunner - Arizona Wildlife - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

The roadrunner moved really fast. But the giant tortoise Rocky at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain stayed hidden from the heat most of the day. We were never sure who was watching who.

Desert Tortoise - Arizona Wildlife - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

We were happy that we never encountered dangerous wildlife on our visit to Arizona. There were often signs posted to watch for snakes. We were told to be careful when we walked out at night. Apparently bobcats and coyotes roamed the area.

We found wildlife without even looking for it on our stay in Tucson.

3) Drive Up Mt Lemmon

Much of the area around Tucson was flat and arid land, littered with cactus. But we saw hills and mountains surrounding the flat valleys. When we marked things to in Tucson on our offline map, several of the pins were for viewpoints. One day we headed out to drive the Sky Island Scenic Byway up Mt Lemmon.

It was a great mountain road to drive. Hairpin turns excited us as we drover higher and higher in the Santa Catalina Mountains. We moved from cactus to evergreen trees as we climbed to over 9,000 feet (2,800m) in altitude. The temperature dropped about 20℉ by the time we reached the top.

Sky Island Scenic Byway Mt Lemmon.jpg

Sky Island Scenic Byway Mt Lemmon - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

After spending a month in the Utah National Parks and in Northern Arizona, we thought we had grown tired of seeing awesome rock landscapes. But we were wrong! All along the route and at the viewpoints, we saw stunning rock structures.

Sky Island Scenic Byway Mt Lemmon - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Sky Island Scenic Byway Mt Lemmon - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Sky Island Scenic Byway Mt Lemmon.jpg

Sky Island Scenic Byway Mt Lemmon - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

When we stopped at the overlooks, the views out over the landscape were stunning. We saw the area around Tucson in all directions.

Sky Island Scenic Byway Mt Lemmon Viewpoints.jpg

Sky Island Scenic Byway Mt Lemmon Viewpoints - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Sky Island Scenic Byway Mt Lemmon Viewpoints - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Our plan for the day did not leave us enough time for our drive up Mt Lemmon. We turned around before we hit Summerhaven and the Ski Valley area to head back for our booked sunset hike at the resort.

There were trail heads at various points up the mountain. And it would have been great to take more time enjoying the views. Exploring Mt Lemmon as one of the fall things to do in Tucson was great. But I am sure it would be wonderful in the spring when the wild flowers were in bloom. Or in the winter with snow on this high point.

4) Wine Tasting Around The Tucson Area

When we did wine tasting in the Verde Valley from Sedona, we were told that most of the grapes came from the SE area of Arizona around Willcox. We were excited when we learned there was a wine festival in Willcox when we were in town. And then we were told about another wine region in the Elgin and Sonoita area.

One day we headed for out to do wine tasting in the Sonoita area. We found several great wineries to visit. Arizona Hops and Vines was the perfect spot to start to sample local Arizona wines. They were also working to get their license to brew beer soon.

Sonoita Arizona Wine Tasting - Arizona Hops and Vines.jpg

Sonoita Arizona Wine Tasting - Arizona Hops and Vines - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Our second stop was at Flying Leap Vineyards. This was a much larger vineyard with many locations around Arizona. We sampled a variety of local wines. But this vineyard was also a distillery. They had both vodka and several brandies on their tasting menu when we visited.

Sonoita Arizona Wine Tasting - Flying Leap Vineyard - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Sonoita Arizona Wine Tasting - Flying Leap Vineyard.jpg

Sonoita Arizona Wine Tasting - Flying Leap Vineyard - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

We never did make it to the Willcox wine festival on this trip. But we definitely want to spend more time wine tasting on a future visit to Arizona. Wine tasting in Sonoita was one of the fall things to do in Tucson. But we were sorry we missed the wine harvest!

5) Visit Tucson For The Festivals

Tucson was the last stop in a month long visit to Utah and Arizona. At home in Toronto, we have a good sense of when the major festivals occurred. But we really did not plan this Tucson stop around any special events. When we checked, we found there are festivals in every season in Tucson. And there is something for everyone.

When we drove around, we saw the Lights of the World Lantern Festival being set up. We enjoyed our first lantern festival in Spokane. At the end of summer exhibition in Toronto, we were intrigued by a massive indoor Chinese lantern display. So when we saw the parking lot in Tucson fill with lanterns, we really wanted to enjoy this.

Lights of the World Lantern Festival - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Lights of the World Lantern Festival - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Unfortunately, the lantern festival started just a few days after we finished our trip. But it would have been a great addition for fall things to do in Arizona.

6) Catch Sunsets and Moon Rises

The wide open skies we found on our visit to Arizona provided the perfect canvas. We arrived in Arizona just as the Hunter’s Moon was rising. The Hunter’s Moon was the first full moon after the Harvest Moon. It provided almost an hour more moonlight by which to hunt. Or for moon watching!

We first caught the Hunter’s Moon when we stayed in the Sedona Valley. It was not yet perfectly formed. On our visit to Scottsdale, we chased the moon to Dobbins Overlook high on the South Mountains. But when we stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain outside of Tucson, the moon came to us. We watched from our suite balcony as the full moon rose over the canyon walls.

Hunters Moonrise - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

We planned to visit the Saguaro National Park to watch sunset. But ultimately missed it there. A hallmark of Ritz-Carlton customer service was the hand-written notes from staff. Our favourite notes came on a beautiful postcard of a sunset over the Seguaro cactus. When we asked, we were told that the best spot to get sunsets on our resort was from the golf course.

We chased a couple of spots on the golf course for just the right place. A sunset over the green with one cactus was considered. But I really had my heart set on a field of cactus. So we scrambled to the hills over the tennis courts for the prefect sunset spot.

Desert Cactus Sunset - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Desert Cactus Sunset - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Chasing the night sky was one of the best things to do in Tucson. So many of the towns and cities in Arizona are committed to being “Dark Sky” towns. They try to limit the light pollution so that the night sky can be enjoyed.

7) Enjoy A Pampering Resort Stay

Our schedule was busy as we enjoyed the National Parks in Utah and had many outdoor adventures in Northern Arizona. So we were so happy we planned for some downtime at the end of our trip.

Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Resort stay.jpg

The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain was a great spot to relax and be pampered. While we were tempted to just chill out at the resort, we found so many things to do on the resort.

Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Resort stay - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Resort stay.jpg

We ate well at the different resort venues. The daily mixology demonstrations showed us so many ways to enjoy tequila. And a wine tasting hour let us discover French wines.

Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Resort stay Ignite Bar - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Resort stay Claytons - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Resort Friday wine tasting - Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

The decision to book a pampering stay at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain to end our adventures was the right one. Enjoying a luxury resort is definitely one of the fall things to do in Tucson. It was a bit off-season so there were no crowds. And the temperatures were still high. But not unbearable.

Fun Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona

We enjoyed the final stop in Tucson on our fall trip to Utah and Arizona. We took a few opportunities to venture off the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain resort. And discovered some of the things to do in the fall in the Tucson region. But we left with many things for a return visit.

We really wanted to do the tours in the Colossal Caves and in the Kartchner Caverns. We visited the Rincon Mountain District area of the Saguaro National Park. But the Tucson Mountain District region was supposed to be amazing at sunset. The Pima Air and Space Museum looked like a fun spot to explore. And a return visit when the desert cactus are in full spring bloom will definitely be planned.

Did you find fall things to do in Tucson Arizona? What should we plan for a return visit?

PIN To Pinterest:

Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

Fall Things To Do In Tucson Arizona.jpg

About TravelAtWill 524 Articles
Travel blogger and photographer! Scuba diving, luxury cruising, chocoholic, sea and sunshine addicts, camera attached and just generally curious! Join us on our adventures!

28 Comments

  1. I love that there are so many festivals there! And a wine region is always a great thing. Ha! I was in Mesa last year, but I hope to head to Tucson this year. Arizona is such a lovely place! I hope you do get back when the cacti bloom.

  2. It’s those hiking trails and I really want to do them now (ugh…I live so far away). The landscape is truly amazing and to see wildlife on the way is fantastic. When i eventually hike through this region, it’s going to take me forever as I love to be snap happy with my camera and check out those amazing scenery shots. And of course, I need to finish the day with a glass of the local wine. You have been really selling this to me recently 🙂

    • Danik, You will love Arizona for outdoor spots to visit. As long as you visit when it is not too hot. The fall was perfect. I am glad you are getting interested in Arizona. It was our first but not last visit. Linda

  3. Looks like autumn is a great time to visit Tucson. I have always wanted to see the cancii at Saguaro NP, so good that they were not wiped out. We do a lot of wildlife trips so I appreciated finding out about the Sonoran Desert, now I need to see those cactus wren birds and a real live roadrunner! And then there are other beautiful drives, wine tasting, and some good eating options too!

  4. I love Arizona; it’s one of my favorite states. I spent several days at Tucson. Saguaro National Park charmed me. Tall cacti look like people’s silhouettes. They are very photogenic. I will go back there again. I will go to this region for wine tasting for sure. I like your winery recommendations. I haven’t heard of these festivals either. I am interested in the Lights of the World Lantern Festival. It seems to be very interesting, too.

  5. We haven’t spent much time in Tucson but am hoping to go back this year. We stayed at Lowes Ventana and Miraval and it was fantastic. We’ll have to try the Ritz next time. My husband loves the desert so a visit to Saguaro National Park and the Sonoran Desert would be his first stops. Mt Lemmon looks impressive with lots of hike options.

  6. The Saguaro National Park looks amazing! I’d love to see the cactus there, it’s so different to the scenery we have in Scotland. Slightly colder here! Cool photos of the sunset from the golf course too

  7. I really like your picture of the moon rises! Isn’t that Saguaro cactus something? We went there a few years ago and were amazed with the view of them at the Saguaro Park. My friend lives in Tucson and recommended Pima Air and Space Museum, but we didn’t have time to visit. Next time we go, I want to drive to Mt. Lemon. The rock formation looks stunning. I like seeing rocks like that.

  8. Love Arizona, Travelled all over and visited some great wineries. But the Ritz-Carlton is a bit to rich for our blood. Too expensive even in off season

  9. A luxury hotel in the middle of the nature provides every comfort. The cactus looks great! I have several such plants at home and they are the long lasting plants, which is the reason I like them very much. This is also a place to the families to hiking around. Thanks for the sharing.

  10. Tucson looks so exciting, with so much to do. The landscape and the single lane of Saguaro National Park reminded me of Pilanesberg National Park near Johannesburg. Sonoran desert area looks rich with flora and fauna. I would love to explore Mt Lemmon too.

  11. The trail and the view of nature was so beautiful… But im afraid of stepping into or encountering a wild animal. Maybe I should just visit the vineyard and try their local wines. Maybe it’s better to visit Arizona during Willcox wine festival and bring home their local wines and brandy…

  12. Seguaro National Park in Tucson really looks worth visiting and it would be interesting to see so many varieties of cactus. Never knew that it is divided into two parts – the Rincon Mountain District and Tuscon Mountain district. If I get time then I would try to catch the sunset views from the Tucson Mountain District. It is sad you ran out of the time. The giant tortoise Rocky hidden at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain looks very cute and finally you captured him or her. Thanks for all tips.

  13. The Saguaro National Park has been on my list for so long! My sister lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, she promised to take me to Tucson sometime, but it never happened. We usually visit her once or twice a year, but every time we go she drags us to Sedona, or other parts of Arizona that she finds more interesting. Good to learn about the Tucson festivals. Next time we go to Phoenix I’ll try to make it there during one of the Tucson festivals.

    • Anda, I hope you do get to visit the Saguaro National Park. It was fun to see the cactus and learn more. Visiting Tucson for a festival would be a fun experience. Good to plan around one. Linda

  14. I have not travelled around this region even though visited USA a few times now but reading your post makes me want to add this to my list for the next visit. However apart from the natural beauty and wildlife that you experienced the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain seems to be the perfect place to end it all and pamper yourself. I would not want to miss this great property and it looks just perfect to relax. The Saguaro National Park is no doubt a great heaven for natural beauty and your visuals have added life to this post for sure. Thanks for sharing

    • Mar, We were glad to finally spend some time in Arizona. The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain was a great end to an amazing trip. And Tucson did indeed have so much to see and do. Hope you get to visit one day. Linda

Leave a Reply