One afternoon in early March, there was a nature show on television about Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona. I sat on the couch next to Bill and mentioned that I had never seen saguaro cacti before. In truth, I’ve only been to Arizona once before when I was a child. I was in the region of the Four Corners and the Grand Canyon. Maybe I saw a saguaro, but certainly not stands of them growing in great abundance. I think before that show had ended, I had located and reserved an AirBnB just on the outskirts of Tucson. Within a couple months our flights were secured.
I corresponded several times with our hosts, and then life got crazy busy. After the incredible Ireland trip with the kids, work kicked into overdrive and planning for Tucson was left somewhere on a back burner. As our departure drew nearer I felt like I had one thing (and perhaps only one thing) figured out with some certainty. We would be staying at Raven Ridge Ranch. I had read the reviews and looked at the pictures and was absolutely sure this was the best place for us. The day before we left I had three “must do” things on my list for our 5 days in and around Tucson: Saguaro National Parks, Sabino Canyon, and a “Classic car, blues and barbeque” event that I thought Bill would enjoy. There are some other things I hoped we might do, but mostly this trip would very loosely planned.
We arrived in Tucson mid-afternoon on February 12, 2020 and within a half-hour of securing our rental car and provisions, turned down the gravel road to Raven Ridge Ranch. Two coyotes casually crossed the road in front of us as we slowed down to take it all in. Cal was ready to greet us as we pulled into the drive. I embarrassed myself by assuming he was a “hugger”. (Thankfully, I think he was.). After we were introduced to his lovely wife, Celine, he showed us around the place and even took each of us on a little environs tour on his quad-runner.
Raven Ridge Ranch is an AirBnB located about 18 miles from the Tucson airport on a ridge that slopes down to the Pantano wash. Our suite was ridiculously inexpensive and came with two bedrooms (one that doubled as the main living area), dining area with a microwave, hotpot, and stocked refrigerator. There were a dozen eggs, yogurt, Starbucks coffee, half and half, cheese, fruit, and chocolate all left for us to enjoy. On the table was a bowl of citrus and there were crackers in the cupboard. The bathroom was equipped with a giant tub, shower and semi-private toilet. Every little detail was done with southwestern flair.
Our back patio was accessed through either bedroom. There was an umbrellaed table with chairs as well as two lounge chairs from which we could lay back and star-gaze. Plentiful bird-feeders allowed for a cacophony of bird songs and visits at different times of the day. We were even stared down by the resident Cooper’s hawk our first afternoon. Cal also pointed out a covey of Gambel partridge that visit the ridge. They are the ones with the little flag on their foreheads.
There is a pergola on the ridge of the property from which we watched the sun set over Tucson one night in the company of Cal and Celine. A small fire was burning in the built in fire place to take off the chill of a February night. Our hosts were both lovely and personable. We knew we were guests but that feeling of “connection” was easily made. We would come back to Raven Ridge in a heartbeat if ever we were to visit Tucson again and would highly recommend it to our friends.
After settling in, we thought we might have time for a quick visit to Saguaro National Park East before sunset. The national park is actually separated by the city of Tucson into east and west parks. Our lodging was only 2 miles from Saguaro east. Even before we left the gravel road I was directing Bill to stop so that I could take a picture of the saguaro across the street from Raven Ridge. I was infatuated. When we arrived at the park the ranger assured us that we had time to take the 8-mile loop road.
Bill has become very patient and adept at quick stops over the years. This evening was no different. Some of our favorite pictures from the loop follow.