Tucson, Arizona is a city of over 500,000 and is the second-highest populated city in Arizona behind Phoenix. It has been nicknamed Optic valley because of its roughly 150 companies involved in the design and manufacturing of optics and optoelectronics systems. The Spanish name Tucson comes from the O’odham word Cuk Son meaning “at the base of the black hill” for the volcanic mountain in the vicinity. It has more to offer than just the desert and surrounding mountain range however, with its fascinating history. You can visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Old Tucson Studios or Kitt Peak National Observatory to name a few featured here. It will feel like you’ve entered another planet in this surreal setting.
The El Tiradito wishing shrine is located in the Old Barrio area of Tucson and consists of the remains of a brick building and offers a large metal rack. On the stand and along the building, large candles depicting Roman Catholic Saints are left burning. Small slips of paper containing prayers and messages of thanks are pressed into the cracks in the walls or left elsewhere in the shrine.
The name El Tiradito translates to “the little throwaway or castaway” and for the last 140 years, has served as a place for prayers and wishes for Tucson believers and thousands of others. The irony behind the symbolism of the shrine is that it pays homage to a married man, Juan Oliveras, who had a torrid affair with his mother-in-law in the 1870s. His father-in-law killed him with an ax and he was then buried where he was killed. The ‘Curse of The Wishing Shrine’ dictates that if people go there with an open and forgiving heart, they will pass the test and possibly have their wishes come true. However, for others it could be the start of history repeating itself. An intriguing place to visit with a very rich history.
Located in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness area of the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Pusch Ridge is the most prominent feature. It was named after George Pusch who in 1874, established a large cattle ranch known as the Steam Pump Ranch at the base of the ridge in what is now known as Oro Valley. The ridge primarily consists of three peaks – Pusch Peak which rises to 5,361 feet, Bighorn Mountain at a height of 5,633 and Table Mountain at an elevation of 6,265 feet. There is also a less significant peak located between Pusch Peak and Bighorn Mountain called the Cleaver which rises to a height of 4,910 feet.
Pusch Ridge serves as one of the last places where you will see Desert Bighorn Sheep in Arizona. The area features impressive ridges, deep canyons and lots of biodiversity caused by the dramatic changes in elevation and the view of the Oro Valley and the city of Tucson is breathtaking. There are trails from Tucson that lead to heavenly natural phenomenon not to be missed. Just be sure to check on restrictions due to the Bighorn Sheep breeding seasons.
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