Southwest Desert Adventure
5-Day / 6-Night
Fasten your seat belts, this five-day driving tour de force is going to be breathtaking in scenery, history, and culture! Oh, and since it is during the middle of winter, all of your friends at home will be envious of you basking in the brilliant sunshine of the desert southwest!
We meet in Phoenix on New Year's Day, and kick off our tour with a welcome dinner and social mixer. Watch a little football on the TV if you like, but most importantly, get ready for five amazing days of desert escape.
The first day takes us northwest from Phoenix to Wickenburg into slightly higher elevations, then back down to Quartzite and Blythe at the Colorado River crossing. It’s hard to believe that the trickle you see beneath the bridge is what carved the Grand Canyon farther upstream. We’ll pause to marvel at the desert scenery, the saguaros, and more, ultimately finishing in Palm Springs for the night. Palm Springs is the mid-century modern capital of America.
On Day 2 we will tour around the Salton Sea, the gigantic lake that was a mistake. In the 1940s and 1950s, the area became home to recreational pursuits and retirement communities, but now the area sits in decay…but it is the kind of decay that beckons the photographer come hither. We will explore abandoned communities on both sides of this inland sea, and then make our way south to Niland, where we will turn east for a few miles to visit two cultural oddities, Salvation Mountain and Slab City. Required homework: watch Into The Wild, and take note of the numerous scenes shot in this area. You will be visiting several of them.
Afterward, we will tour through SoCal agricultural areas in and around Brawley, make our way east in Interstate 8, and visit the remnants of the old plank road situated among the sand dunes. We will spend the night in Yuma, perhaps the hottest city in the US. Summer temperatures routinely push 115-120F, but we will be much more comfortable with 70-75 mid-winter.
On Day 3 we will push eastward toward Gila Bend, noting interesting architecture and roadside signage. We will drive through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on our way to Ajo, where we will partake of Spanish Revival Architecture, Historic Plaza & Train Depot, and great bird watching.
Day 4 will take us to Tucson, via Tubac. We will have plenty of time for sightseeing and a historic tour, plus lunch (and margaritas?) at Elvira’s. You’ll understand why afterward! Tucson is an amazing town, rich in history and university life. If you like neon signs, you will be hard-pressed to find anything better. Several top-notch craft breweries are located in town; if good beer is your thing, you will not be disappointed!
Our final day will bring us to Scottsdale, via Casa Grande. We’ll have time for an Old Town tour, as well as shopping. Our drive is short this day, ensuring our early arrival. A farewell gathering will bring us together one last time before we head our separate ways.
The desert can be an unforgiving place in summer, but it is delightful in winter. It is in a perpetual state of Spring from October to April, with flora and fauna alike enjoying the respite from summer’s heat. Come prepared to enjoy the “cool” part of the year, knowing that there is a good reason why so many snowbirds call southern Arizona their home during the winter months.
The best part, though, is being able to see and experience so many noteworthy points of interest along the way. We call the desert southwest our home, and we want to share it with you. After you have experienced the Southwest desert, you will understand why we love it so much.
Details: Registration deadline Dec 22, 2016!
Day 0 / Jan 1st. Arrive in Phoenix.
Day 1: Phoenix AZ - Palm Springs CA
Day 2: Palm Springs CA - Yuma AZ
Day 3: Yuma AZ - Ajo, AZ.
Day 4: Ajo, AZ - Tucson, AZ, via Tubac.
Day 5: Tucson, AZ - Scottsdale