Texas Canyon is about 20 miles east of Benson. We saw it when we drove through on the way to Benson from Las Cruces and went back for a closer look. There are a lot of huge boulders everywhere, many of them balanced on each other. Quite spectacular and it makes you wonder what created it. It reminds me of the scenery from an awful lot of cowboy movies.
The Pima Air and Space Museum is near Tucson next to an Air Force base and is about 40 miles from where we are staying in Benson. In many ways it is on par with the Pensacola Naval Air Museum in Florida. There are an awful lot of planes here from all different eras but the big difference is that the Pima Museum got it’s start as an airplane boneyard, a place where airplanes went to die. Some local hobbyists got together and started restoring some airplanes and it took off from there. The Pima Museum has several large hangers where planes are displayed but most the planes are outside and in various stages of repair. This also means that the Pima Museum has a lot of very large airplanes that we haven’t seen before.
Since we are staying at the Saguaro SKP Co-Op in Benson, Arizona it seemed appropriate that our first excursion would be to the Saguaro National Park which is about 35 miles from where we are parked.
It had rained a fair amount the previous day and there were still some small local showers the day we went. It was actually quite cool and one of the park rangers said that was because it had snowed on Mount Lemmon, about 20 miles away, and cold air was flowing down off the mountain into the park. We had mixed clouds and sun with a few very light showers but the rain had revived all of the cactus and other plants so it was actually a very good time to go.
There is an 8-mile scenic drive through the park that starts next to the park’s headquarters. There were lots of scenic pullouts along the way as well as a handicap accessible nature walk at about the half-way point. We took our time and stopped frequently. There were easily a dozen or more different species of cactus. Although the Saguaro cactus is the largest and most spectacular cactus here, many of the smaller ones were quite striking. None of the cactus were actually in bloom since that usually happens during the monsoon rain season during the summer, but many were very colorful and there were other plants in bloom.
The Organ mountains just to the east of Las Cruces are a National Recreation area. On the Las Cruces side there are picnic grounds and several hiking trails. This area is called Dripping Springs and in the 1800’s there was a silver and copper mine there and in the early 1900’s a hotel and then a health spa but there is little left of them except ruins. We drove several miles on a dirt road to get to it. Hardly anybody lives nearby. This is mostly cattle ranching territory and we drove over a half dozen cattle guards along the way. It is very scenic but unfortunately none of the hiking trails were handicap accessible.