Pima County was the last of the four original counties established in1864. It was the second largest, reaching south of the Gila River and covering almost the entire Arizona portion of the Gadsden Purchase. As time went on, the counties of Maricopa, Pinal, Cochise, Graham and Santa Cruz were carved out of it. Today, it covers 9,184 square miles.
The name “Pima” came from the Spaniards traveling through this area. During their journeys, they came across the Indians. The Spanish gave them the name Pima, after asking them their name and their response was “pim.” This word actually means “no,” but the term stuck. The county and the Indians living here still hold onto the name Pima.
Tucson is the county seat. It was also the Arizona Territorial Capital from 1867 to 1877. The town was also selected to be the home of the University of Arizona. In 1891, classes began with just 32 students and 6 teachers. Needless to say, the school has grown. Currently, it is one of the top research universities in the nation and Tucson is the second largest city in Arizona.
Pima County has countless attractions for visitors to see. The Mission of San Xavier del Bac began construction in 1793 and was completed in 1797. Since its completion, it has served the Tohono O’odham Indian community. There is a museum located near the mission, where you will find more information. Those in the area sometimes refer to the mission as “The Dove of the Desert.” It is a beautiful sight set against the desert landscape. Services are still conducted today. Saguaro National Monument is actually divided into two sections. One is located to the east of Tucson and other is to the west. The eastern part has a drive through the magnificent saguaros. There is a visitor center, hiking trails and picnic areas available. The western section also has a driving tour, hiking trails, visitor center and picnic area. This monument is a perfect place to learn more about the Sonoran Desert and how important the giant saguaro is to those living here. In 1937, the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was created to protect the organ pipe cactus living in this region. There are over 250 species of birds and animals living at the monument. Two drives through the monument allow visitors to see some of the rare cactus. The Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect the fragile riparian environment in this area. Endangered bobwhite quail, Gambel quail, mule deer and javelina live in this region. Those traveling to the refuge should find out more about where to hike, before heading out. The Catalina State Park covers 5,500 acres near the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The park offers numerous hiking trails that cross scenic areas. A unique section of the park is the equestrian center. The center provides trailer parking and riding trails. Bird watching, camping and picnicking are more of the activities that visitors enjoy during a trip to the park. Sabino Canyon Recreational Area is a gorgeous canyon within the slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains in the Coronado National Forest. Visitors will be amazed at the numbers of wildlife. There is a tram available to take those up to the higher sections of the other trailheads. Sabino Canyon is located just northeast of Tucson.
Pima County has wonderful scenery for those to explore.