Arizona Stops on the Way

Insider's Tips to Tucson

Geoffrey Campbell, assistant general manager of Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort in Tucson, Ariz., shares insider tips on what to do and see in Tucson.

Geoffrey Campbell
Geoffrey CampbellCourtesy Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort

How would you describe Tucson to someone who has never been there?

Mountains in every direction, not a bad tamale in town, a little grit and a lot of class and never pretentious.

How long have you been at the Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort?

3 years

What do you love best about Tucson?

Tucson surrounded by mountains
Tucson surrounded by mountains and parksCourtesy of Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort

For me, it is access to the national parks, forests and wilderness areas. I have lived in New England, the Midwest, the Northern Rockies and Four Corners regions, and I have to say Tucson is my favorite. I can be in an entirely different biome within a mere few hours on foot in nearly all directions.

What makes Mission Garden one of your favorite places to visit in Tucson?

4,000 years of food history! It [a living agricultural museum showcasing the region’s rich agricultural heritage] showcases Hohokam, pre-contact and post-contact O’odham, Spanish, Mexican, territorial and statehood, Chinese, Yaqui, Anglo and Afro American farming with solutions for future farming opportunities!

Why is the Presidio Museum at the top of your list?

Perhaps the most interesting thing to me are the “luxuries” included in the officer quarters versus a standard room. Luxuries included an extra chair and a little more space, but clearly it was a rustic lifestyle. The life-sized mural showing busy life at the Presidio almost takes you back in time. The ruins are amazing, too. There is a lot of information on the walls for self-guided types, or plenty of volunteers to help guide folks on a historic journey!

Favorite hike?

View towards Tucson from Windy Point on Mount Lemmon
View towards Tucson from Windy Point on Mount LemmonDeposit Photos

Catalina State Park to the top of Mount Lemmon [elevation 9,159 feet). This hike starts at Romero Canyon and climbs over 7,000 feet to the summit at more than 9,000 feet. It can be enjoyed year long, depending on when you start. My favorite time of year is when it is warm in the canyon, and there is still snow on the upper elevations. There is something magical about hiking from Mexico to Canada, climate-wise, within the same day hike.

If you can bribe a friend to pick you up at the top, it can be done within four hours. If you have to return to the park, it can be done in 6-8 hours. But I recommend taking the whole day so that you can take pictures and enjoy the beauty around you. There is one choice that I recommend you consider. At Romero Pass, you will connect with a section of the Arizona Trail. You can take the Lemmon Trail or The Wilderness of Rocks Trail. Research both and decide beforehand. Both get you to the summit but offer a completely different visual experience in the heart of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

What do you love best about being at the Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort?

I love the warm and friendly friends I get to work with each day. Our service culture is the same among the staff as it is to our guests. We genuinely enjoy serving each other and providing memorable experiences to each other.

You have an amazing wine list. How did you grow it over time and is there a special Arizona wine guests should try?

For Arizona wine, I recommend Dos Cabezas. The vineyard is one of the stops on our “Valleys, Vaqueros and Vineyards” excursion, which includes the historic Empire Ranch, Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, Nature Conservancy’s Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, the Sonoita/Elgin Wineries and more.

The dining room at Hacienda Del Sol
The Grill at Hacienda Del SolCourtesy of Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort

What are some quirky things guests should know about the desert in Tucson?

The Sonoran Desert is the hottest and most bio-diverse of the North American deserts. It receives more rainfall than any other desert – it receives approximately 10 inches a year on average.   

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