the wandering chick
...the Sky Island Scenic Byway
a 27-mile drive into the Coronado Natl Forest
The Tucson Basin

My travel partner and I were excited about taking this drive. It sounded intriguing and fun. We were far from disappointed. The cloudless blue sky and pleasant temperatures helped make it near-perfect, but the scenery was the true winner of the day.

The beginning of the drive at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson winds you through the saguaros of the desert floor offering spectacular views of Tucson and the Tucson Basin. A few hairpin curves and suddenly you're in a forest of pine trees, but not before you've driven through some of the most fascinating rock formations in southern Arizona.

The road is paved all the way, pullouts are available for slower drivers and named scenic vistas, many with short hikes, are frequent.

Even though it's less than 30 miles, consider it an all-day excursion. You'll be glad you allowed enough time to stop at them all.

Two or three restaurants are at the end of the drive in the town of Summerhaven and at the Mt. Lemmon Ski Resort.

I've included a picture of the map to show the outline of the route. Don't worry....there are no dropoffs.
a map of the route
At the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site
The Tucson Basin and the Rincon Mountain Range in the distance
An interesting story can be read about Gordon Hirabayashi, a Japanese-American who refused to be interned by the U.S. government at the onset of World War II. A recreation site here on the scenic byway is named in his honor.
Thimble Peak, a rock formation along the route
Thimble Peak is a landmark along the scenic byway. It can be seen from several of the vistas along the route.
rock formations along the route
rock formations along the drive
The road passes around, under and over fascinating rock formations.
a pine forest area
campground among the pines
along the route
Picnic grounds as well as campgrounds are available along the route. This one is the Cypress Picnic Area.
rock formations jut out over the road
the landscape along the route
Intriguing rock formations jut out over the road. This one was taken near the Manzanita Vista Point (oddly not marked on the map above).
landscape along the route
rock formations along the route
landscape, terrain along the route
rock formations along the route
View of the road below taken at Windy Point
Windy Point Vista is probably the favorite overlook for most of the travelers on this road. The views from this point are breathtaking. One can easily spend an hour walking out over the rocks and among the brush to witness up close the spectacular panaromic views. The next several shots were taken from Windy Point. In this shot, you can see the road from whence we came.
view from Windy Point
view from Windy Point
the terrain near the Manzanita Vista
view from Windy Point
view from Windy Point
shot from Windy Point Vista
a gnarly old tree whose trunk has been smoothed by the wind and rain
shot from Windy Point Vista
shot from Windy Point Vista
rock formation at Windy Point Vista
shot from Windy Point Vista
rock formation at Windy Point Vista
shot from Windy Point Vista
a tree whose leaves have abandoned it, taken at Windy Point
the San Pedro Valley in the distance taken from the next vista point, San Pedro
From this viewpoint, the San Pedro Vista, the San Pedro River Valley can be seen in the distance.
Traveling from Windy Point to the San Pedro Vista
Traveling between Windy Point and San Pedro Vistas
a trail at the San Pedro Vista
Because traffic was light, I took advantage of the pullouts between the vista points to capture a shot of the windy road as it bent around massive rock formations.
The San Pedro Vista had a short hiking trail from which the complete river valley could be viewed.
on the San Pedro Trail
from the San Pedro Vista
scenic view of the landscampe
Layers of mountains is one of the beauties of the Santa Catalina range.
guy standing on the hgihest rock at Windy Point Vista
A tourist stands on one of the highest points at Windy Point Vista.
The road as it winds through the rock formation
Layers of mountains in silhouette
Trees in silhouette
saguaro in silhouette
Views at the Babad Do'ag Vista.

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