Tourism contributed over $2.3 billion to the Pima County
economy in the past year and continues to be a major part of
the economic base. Many new hotels have been constructed.
San Xavier Del Bac Mission
San Xavier Del Bac Mission is located on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation. The mission was named after the Jesuit Apostle of the Indies, Saint Francis Xavier. Today, “White Dove of the Desert” is the name given to the mission because of its beautiful white adobe brick rising from the desert floor. It is a magnificent building with Spanish mission architecture. This mission stands apart from other missions because of its domes, carvings, arches and flying buttresses. The murals and alter inside the mission are
It all began in the early 1700’s when the Jesuit Father Eusebio Francisco Kino came through the area in which the mission now stands. Father Kino was sent to help the Native Indians. The Franciscans built the present structure of the mission in 1783 through 1797. The purpose of the mission was to Christianize the Indians and to be the headquarters for a ranch worked by the Indians. In 1828, the missionaries were forced to leave the mission, but in 1911 they returned. Since then, the mission has remained the main church and the school for the Tohono O’odham Indians.
In 1997, an Italian craftsman restored the mission’s interior. This restoration has revealed detailed frescoes and vivid murals. Some say it is the Sistine Chapel of North America. There are legends about the mission’s missing the right tower. One legend says that it was never completed because of a tax that the Spanish government would have exercised if the mission had been completed. Another says that the Apache Indians destroyed it in the late 19th century. Still, another says that if it ever was completed the mission would be destroyed.
Today visitors will have the opportunity to listen to a taped 15-minute lecture about the mission. These lectures are offered every hour. A 45-minute self-guided tour is also available.There is a museum that has displays of vestments and artifacts for visitors to admire. You will also find small gift shops across from the museum, where you will find a memento of your visit. The mission is open every day from 9:30 to 5:30 pm. Church services are Monday through Saturday at 8:30 am and on Sundays 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 and 12:30 pm. There is no admission charge, but donations are greatly appreciated. If you would like more information on the mission, you may call 520-294-2624.
You can get to the mission from Tucson by taking Interstate 19, south out of town toward Nogales. Then take exit 92 off of Interstate 19 to the mission. It is about nine miles off the Interstate. If you are coming from Phoenix, take Interstate 10 south out of town to Tucson. Continue through Tucson, until you come to Interstate 19. Take Interstate 19 south down toward Nogales. Travel on Interstate 19, until you come to exit 92. You will get off the Interstate at exit 92 and follow the signs to the mission. It is approximately nine miles off of Interstate 19. San Xavier Del Bac has withstood the ravages of time and weather, and it stands today in timeless beauty, visited by thousands of visitors each year.
Sabino Canyon lies in the Santa Catalina Mountains and is part of the Coronado National Forest. The canyon has been a source of life for several cultures over the centuries. The Clovis people used the canyon nearly 13,000 years ago to hunt bison and mammoths. Then the Hohokam Indians arrived in the canyon to use the water for their ingenious irrigation systems. The Papago and Pima Indians came along and hunted game in Sabino Canyon. During the 1870’s pony soldiers from Fort Lowell rode up to the canyon for a day of swimming.
Then in the 1940’s, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed bridges, picnic tables and walls to help preserve the canyon. Today visitors can enjoy the trail and amenities provided at Sabino Canyon. The canyon offers a variety of outdoor fun for its visitors. You may choose from swimming, bird watching, picnicking, hiking, and horseback riding.
There are many kinds of wildlife that make their home in the canyon, such as deer and birds. Sabino Creek flows all year round, except for one or two months, depending on the weather season for the year. The color of the creek’s water is a brownish shade, due to the tannin found in oak tree roots and pine needles. The water provides a good environment for crayfish and sunfish. Swimming is so much fun in the natural pools along the creek. One of the special highlights of this canyon is the Sabino Canyon Tours. These tours offer a narrated tram tour into the canyon. It is a great way to take in nature’s beauty.
The 45-minute tour takes visitors along a three and a half mile paved round trip journey through the canyon. You will travel through cottonwoods, willow trees, and sycamores. It is a great choice if your time is short. The tram makes nine stops on the way to the top. These stops are great for hikers to get to the trailhead or for picnickers to get to a great spot
to enjoy a meal. You can get on and off as often as you like, as long as it is it a designated point. Another tram will take hikers up to the Bear Canyon Trail. This two and a half mile hike takes you to the Seven Falls. This waterfall drops 500 feet down the side of a hill and is an amazing sight.
There is a moonlight tram tour offered in April through December, three nights a week. It takes visitors on a wonderful journey. The tour is much slower paced than the daytime tram ride, but it does stop at the top. The moonlight tour is approximately 75 minutes long and does not have narration. You will need to make a prepaid reservation to attend the moonlight tram tour. If you are interested, you may call 520-749-2327. There is a visitor reception desk at the canyon to help you enjoy your visit to Sabino Canyon completely. Please may sure you allow a minimum of one hour to see the canyon. Pets and motor vehicles are not permitted in the canyon.
The canyon is open every day from 8:00 to 4:30 pm. There is no admission fee, but if you are interested in the tram there is a charge. The tram tour is $6.00 and $2.50 for ages 3 to 12. If you have more questions, you may call 520-749-2861. You can get to Sabino Canyon from Tucson by taking Sabino Canyon Road north into the Sabino Canyon or by taking Sunrise Drive east into Sabino Canyon. If you are coming from Phoenix take Interstate 10 south out of town to Tucson. Just as you get to Tucson take the Ina Road exit and head east on Ina Road.
The road then veers southeast and changes into Skyline Drive. Continue on Skyline Drive for a while, until the road name change to Sunrise Drive. Take Sunrise Drive right into Sabino Canyon. Sabino Canyon is a real nature lover’s treat. The tram tour is a delightful way to see the area.