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Gilbert Ray Campground is great base for RV day trips


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RVers enjoy nice desert vistas at Gilbert Ray Campground.
Every RVer wants to find a base camp in a beautiful setting convenient for day trips. One of the best such spots is Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson Mountain Park, about 13 miles west of Tucson. Operated by Pima County Parks and Recreation, the campground is set in a quiet, sparsely developed section of the Sonoran Desert at the edge of the Tucson Mountains within easy driving distance of several attractions.

 

Less than two miles up Kinney Road is the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, a huge, mostly outdoor preserve that literally takes a couple of days to explore deliberately. For any RVer interested in learning about desert life and history, this place is paradise. Its two miles of paths wind among dozens of informative displays and exhibits about the cacti, wildflowers, trees, birds, animals and insects that inhabit the Sonora Desert. Many of the exhibits feature live creatures, including mountain lions and black bears, in small but naturalistic environments.

 

The Desert Museum has almost 2 miles of paths.
The museum also has displays about mining, geology, archeology and astronomy. Daily guided tours are available, and the museum complex has restaurants and a book store. The $12 per person admission price is a worthwhile investment.

 

Another couple of miles up the road takes the day-tripper to the western district of Saguaro National Park. At the visitor center, you can view a 15-minute video about the saguaro's significance to Native Americans, and rangers offer periodic programs. The park has several nature trails and hikes. If you drive the six-mile Bajada scenic loop, be sure to take the Signal Hill picnic spur and walk the path to view petroglyphs carved by prehistoric Hohokam Indians.

 

Saguaro national Park has petroglyphs as well as cacti.
Just down the road in the other direction from the campground sits the famous Old Tucson Studios, which may bring a sense of deja vu: more than 300 westerns, commercials and TV program segments were filmed there. The set, of course, resembles a frontier town. The buildings are like mini museums with displays about mining, gunfighters, mountain men and other aspects of Old West history. Some buildings also have photos, costumes and similar memorabilia from the movies and TV shows. In the Grand Palace Hotel a video shows clips from many movies. On the guided tour, the host points out buildings and props that figured in various scenes: Here's where John
More than 300 movies were filmed at Old Tucson Studios.
Wayne
bought the shotgun for James Caan in "El Dorado," that's the locomotive Clint Eastwood drove into the saloon in "The Outlaw Josey Wales," etc.

 

Also in Tucson Mountain Park are picnic areas and archery and shooting ranges.

 

Sites at Gilbert Ray Campground have 30-amp electrical hookups; water and a dump station are centrally located. If you still have time after visiting the nearby attractions, the greater Tucson area has lots more to do and see.




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