A Short Tour of Southern AZ

Hiking trail in the Coronado National Forest.

December 11 – December 17, 2020.

Way back in December our friends from Roaming About, Mark, Liesbet, and Maya the dog invited us to go on a little tour of Southern Arizona with them. We thought, why not? We love spending time with our friends and I am really starting to love it when someone else makes the plan.

The trip was rapid-fire. We visited 7 different places in 9 days. Greg wrote about our first stop, The Titan Missile Museum, in the previous post. And here is a bit about 5 of our other stops.

Madera Canyon

We spent a week in Madera Canyon in the Coronado National Forest last spring. This time was just two days – one holed up in our vans while it poured rain on us and another hiking and enjoying a few birds.

Rivoli’s Hummingbird. There is an Inn along the main road running through the canyon with bird feeders. After a hike in the Coronado Forest, we stopped by to see who was hanging out.
Acorn Woodpecker.
Wild turkey.


As much time as we have spent in Southern Arizona, we have never visited Tubac. It was a bit of a treat. At first glance, it seems like just a place to shop – mostly for decorative Mexican imports. But it is also full of art and whimsy and visually quite fun. There is also an Arizona State Historic Park, Tubac Presidio, focused on Spanish colonial America that we didn’t visit.

The Center for the Arts in Tubac.
Interactive art! Inside The Center for the Arts, Greg and Liesbet play this musical contraption.
Mexican pottery.
In 2019 the Tubac Arts Center sponsored a project called the Javelinas of Tubac. Fifty javelinas were painted by artists mostly from Southern Arizona and placed in locations around Tubac, Green Valley, and Tucson. In April of 2020, most of the Javainas were auctioned off but a few remained scattered around town in Tubac.
Conestoga Wagon and javelinas.
Another javelina.
Shops in Tubac.
Greg talks with Mark Twain.
A Spanish courtyard.
Happy Christmas Budda.

Tumacácori National Historic Park

We first visited Tumacácori National Historic Park in February of 2017 during our first van trip through the Southwest. We wrote a blog post about it here.

Tumacácori is an 1800s mission built by Spanish Franciscans who ministered to Native Americans.

The mission, San Jose de Tumacácori.
Inside the mission.
The mortuary chapel.
Ruins of the priests’ housing.


Bisbee was another repeat for us. But Bisbee is the kind of town I wouldn’t mind visiting often. It is full of the kind of vibe and character that I love about our last “real” home, Cabbagetown in Atlanta. The houses are old and each has its own special charm. The city is full of impromptu art. Bisbee has its roots in a working-class industry and although it has become a tourist town much of the authenticity of those working-class roots remain mixed with newcomers who have brought culture and creativity.

Downtown Bisbee.
Art alley.
Bisbee was a copper mining town. The mine is closed now but there are tours.  We did the tour last time we were here. You take a tram down into the mine. Our tour guide once worked in the mine so he had lots of great stories.
Covid leaves its mark on Bisbee.
Art door.
Bisbee street.
It was a bit of a hike up a rough hill to the cross so we gave it a pass.
Looking down into town.
Public courtyard.
Walking the streets of Bisbee.


On the same 2017 trip across Southern Arizona, we also visited Tombstone. A town of legends and movies, Tombstone is best known for the wild west shoot out at the OK Corral between lawmen, the Earps, and Ike Clanton and his gang. Tombstone is a tourist trap. Everything costs money. On our 2017 visit, we budgeted and had to pick and choose what we wanted to see. This time no one wanted to spend money so instead, we made some margaritas and wandered around taking pictures and enjoying what we could for free.

* You can read about our first visit to both Bisbee and Tombstone here. You can also read our traveling companion, Liesbet’s take on the striking differences between the two cities here.

The Earp brothers and Doc Holiday getting ready for a shoot-out. Costumed characters stand out in the street to entice people to pay to see mock shootouts.
I don’t know how many of the buildings in Tombstone are authentic – especially the ATM bank.
Four Deuces Saloon.
Doc Holiday’s Saloon.
Stage coach.
The margaritas doing their job. A little cheesy Tombstone fun.
We didn’t pay to see any one of the numerous shoot outs but we did find ourselves on the other side of a fence from one. I was able to stick my camera above the fence and get this shot.
The streets of Tombstone.
Old Tombstone. Y’all come back now!

* All pics are click to enlarge.

** This is part 2 of our posts about our trip through Southern Arizona with our friends from Roaming About. Look for our final post soon about Whitewater Draw. It’s a birding post!

This week I will be sharing this post on  My Corner of the World, Travel Tuesday, Through My Lens, and Sharon’s Souvenirs. Check out these links to see what other people are doing all over the world.

18 thoughts on “A Short Tour of Southern AZ

  1. There’s so much to see and do in southern Arizona. I love how the feel is very different than the upper half of the state. Perhaps, that’s one of the things I really enjoy about AZ … its diversity.

    1. It was pretty diverse just going from Bisbee to Tombstone. It is a fun place to explore, there is always something new.

  2. I would love to have a real conversation with Mark Twain! Great photo tour of Arizona sights and towns. I don’t think we’re going there next summer and I’m going to miss it.

    1. I think Greg would love to have a conversation with a real live Mark Twain too! Arizona has so much to offer – there just isn’t enought time.

  3. I’ve never been to Tombstone, but I can’t see myself paying money to see someone reenact a shootout. I do have a memory (I’m guessing I was five-years-old) of attending a reenactment of The Battle of the Little Bighorn (Custer’s Last Stand). I even remember someone playing Custer with long flowing blond hair.

    1. I think seeing a reenactment of Little Bighorn would be pretty interesting! Especially with a Custer with flowing blond hair! We visited Little Bighorn this past summer and Greg wrote an interesting take on it from the Native American viewpoint. Greg found some interesting bits about the battle I’d love to see reenacted.

      Even when we visited Tombstone before we didn’t pay to see a shootout. We did pay to see a cheesy diorama presentation with a Vincent Price narration. Mostly when we fork out money it is for historical stuff, though.

    1. Not sure which one you mean but, my favorite is the woodpecker – although wild turkeys are pretty spectacular as well as the hummingbirds.

  4. Your posts really help our planning. Between you and Liesbet we’ve got southern Arizona covered for our next trip down there. No boondocking though. Hotels and a condo for a month in Phoenix!

    1. So glad we could help! I love planning trips and finding unique things to do. I love boondocking but long hot showers in a condo are nice too.

  5. Thanks for sharing your trip with us! There are so many unusual things to see there. I love seeing the periods clothes of the Old West, but I know I’d probably starve that first winter 🙂

    It’s great to see your link at ‘My Corner of the World’ this week!

    1. It is fun to see the old west clothes. I think most of us would not do well with out all our modern conveniences – even those, like us, who live in a van.

  6. It was a pleasure to experience all these stops with you both and to adventure together. We are sorely missing that. Wish you could have been here in Baja with us. As always, you provide wonderful accounts and photos of all these places! Perfect to link back to from Roaming About when I’m lazy. 🙂

    1. We have never done as much traveling with anyone as we have recently. I love that we all travel together so well. It was tons of fun. And I really want to do it again.

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