American West travel is a favorite pastime of ours! We love primarily traveling the American West for two main reasons
We're Karen & Bill – and we love to travel. We've always loved to travel, since we first met – way back! We were high school sweethearts. When we were dating, we began traveling. First just through our own state. Then we expanded to neighboring states.
We're Baby Boomers – that 60s & 70s generation. After we married and had our first child, we even checked out a commune we thought about joining! In Massachusetts. We traveled there three times while considering it. Decided against it – but never regret trying it out. It was a unique, interesting experience!
We'd always had traveling adventures. Lots of them – never stopped traveling all around areas of the country car-distance from where we lived. Also getting to Canada for some wonderful trips.
Then we expanded to Western States. With our interest in Old Wild West history, we went to Texas. Crossed the border into Mexico for the first time ever! Then another trip, this time to Arizona. We were hooked on American West travel, for sure! So much so, our goal was to move to Arizona. We accomplished that – when our kids were high school age.
Our move entailed finding new careers to support ourselves. Our travels now centered on the Tucson area while reorganizing our limited budget, re-formulating ourselves. But there was so much new & exciting there to see! And after all this time, we definitely haven’t seen or done it all.
Our new careers were in health care, in Respiratory Therapy, as Respiratory Care Practitioners. We did well, became very experienced and had a great schedule enabling super travel time! After a while, an opportunity arose moving to Southern California, working in Respiratory Therapy teaching. We did that until retirement. Then moved back to Arizona. To our Ole West Favorite, Tombstone Arizona.
Yet, still loving to travel and visiting all the places of fantastic scenery and history in Western America. Not that we don't travel to other places, too. We've done just that.
As our American West Travel blog theme says, we travel the West! We let you know where we go, what we do, so you can go there yourself – or maybe even avoid it! Ugh! If it’s not your thing – or we have reasons to not recommend it! When we travel the American West and locate truly wonderful sights, we just have to share them with you.
Please come with us now, as we drive around, near and far (and sometimes fly) on our American West travels. View these endless horizons along with us! We can welcome you along...
Marana is a small town just Northwest of Tucson Arizona. When Bill and I were in Marana, we stopped to see our daughter Shannon, and granddaughters. Shannon mentioned a place she’d just visited near her house. A great place – beautiful! It had access to hiking trails, which she'd taken. She got to the top of Sombrero Peak (local term)!
This place is called Sanctuary Cove. Before leaving for home, we decided to stop by. I just wanted to chill – and think about where to go to write about our next American West Travel page article. And right there before me was the subject! Wow!
It’s West off Exit 246 or 244 from the I-10 Freeway just North of Tucson. Then from Silverbell Road, there are a few turns further West to get to its entrance off N. Scenic Drive. Check out the map:
There’s a little shaded area near the car park. Stop there for a picnic when arriving! Lots of parking areas available. We were the only visitors – on a weekday though. We walked uphill along a dirt roadway toward a building. Gorgeous Sonoran Desert scenery!
The Chapel is very beautiful, if small. We walked around it. Saw it had a few signs on the rear wall. The first one we observed spoke of the Mission Statement – its purpose:
They call themselves “A Desert Place Apart – set aside and donated as a retreat for meditation and prayer Dec. 15, 1955 by Elmer Amos Staggs. Dedicated to all of humanity. May you be inspired in this place toward your highest spiritual attainments. All Creeds Brotherhood Inc. Dec. 26, 1957. State of Arizona”
It’s certainly enthralling! It got me thinking right away about including it on our website. Inspirational just walking around here. We saw people could hold activities here. Like weddings, vow renewals, or memorial services. It’s quite suitable for these.
We walked around back, which had large amphitheater type seating. I pretended to give a lecture! Then into the seating area, contemplating the view, thinking about how I'd write about this unique desert spot.
I thought about the beauty and calm of the area. The natural desert environment – the cactus, trees, grasses, birds! All gorgeous! It's a wonderful place for a wedding or a vow renewal!
Sanctuary Cove, as you see in their Mission Statement, does have a service purpose. Read all about it.
Offshoots to hiking trails are in the area. This is the specific spot to access the trail to the Sombrero Peak summit, which you'll find behind the outdoor seating.
We certainly enjoyed this little side trip before heading back south to Tombstone. If you get a chance to stop by Sanctuary Cove – it’s well worth it.
We took our camper out for a trek into the Desert. I got out our book that tells us where we can find free camping sites, or at least cheap campgrounds! Love this book. Highly recommend it, if you’re into RV camping. It’s called the Guide to Free Campgrounds.
We had our eye on Riverview Campground, listed in Wright’s book. Priced at $5 a night, with water available, no hook-ups. But with rest rooms, river access & hiking trails. Each site had a picnic table, shade & a grill. The Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
We started out and found the turn-off, which crosses over the Gila River east of Safford. A good road, but once you enter the wilderness area, it becomes gravel, much more narrow & twisty turny! But our good ole RV made it through – carefully! We stopped at the first picnic area, river overlook…
We got settled that first day, and just relaxed, as there wasn’t too much daylight left. It started getting pretty chilly outside. It was wintertime. (You really wouldn't want to be here in the summer!)
We tried relaxing outdoors until the sun got so low that it didn’t provide much more heat. Then we retired inside the RV to fix our evening meal.
The next morning we took a walk along the road to explore the campground. We met the campground hosts as they were walking their dogs. Very nice people, they host here each winter. They invited us over to their site later in the day.
After walking & exploring awhile, we took the hosts up on their offer for a visit. Had a nice little chat with them just before dinner-time.
We asked about cell service, since we were waiting on word of a new great granddaughter! They said it’s very difficult way out here. But the one location it sometimes reaches is a rock located outside the farthest campsite!
We tried for it after leaving them, just before going back to our RV – but no luck. We were in true Social Network “Alone” !!
We walked on to the farthest part of the campground, where there was a group area, with some activity areas – like a horse-shoe pit. We also passed some trail-heads which we planned to get to the next day.
The Cottonwood Trail is 2.5 miles long & makes a loop which includes the Riverside Campground. It’s a basic hike, great for nearly anyone. Most of it's relatively flat, but there are a few sloping areas – not bad. Some gravelly parts can be a little slippery. So be sure to have good hiking shoes! We didn’t do the entire route, since we wanted to stay within the campground on this trip.
If you think this might be an interesting camping area for you when you travel the American West - here's where to go for some detailed info: Click Here>
As we said also, highly recommended is Wright's Guide to Free Camping. He also has some other cool camping guides. Look them over, see if they might be right up your alley...
Want to Explore Gila Box, but don't care to go camping? How about a nearby lodging stay:
Our son Sean had lived in Tucson, but got a job transfer to Flagstaff Arizona. It’s a whole different climate up there! That’s a great thing about living in Arizona. All you have to do is take a drive – anywhere from an hour to a few hours, and you can drastically change your environment and your climate.
We went for a visit to see Sean & his family – wife & 2 sons (our delightful grandsons!). While there – suddenly a huge storm headed their way. We hadn’t even checked on the forecast up there – as down in Tombstone it was a week of sunshine & 60s.
But the day after we arrived, the storm warnings came in – a Winter Storm on the way! Oh No! We’re not ever prepared for that!
We all went into town, since our son still had to take care of some of his work responsibilities. In his job for a cell phone company, he must make sure those computers are running the towers correctly - no matter what the weather! So we made a little trip out with him.
The next day the sun was out, the storm was gone. Sean said he’d had enough of the snow that year. In his job he must drive miles through it – up through the mountains, over the passes – 4 wheel drive territory. Some crazy areas & situations! He keeps cell phone systems going, managing the computers at the bottom of cell phone towers – wherever they may be in all of Northern Arizona.
We hit the road, mid morning that day after the end of the snow-storm. The roads were clear up that way. After about an hour South, there was no more snow to be seen! We sighed a relief sigh! We’ve seen enough snow in our life – and just enjoy viewing it on the summits of our local mountains!
We love to spend time in Hawaii. We travel there fairly frequently. Remember - Hawaii is part of America! And it's in the American West! We don't usually go to resorts, but instead try to find a nice house or even a condo to rent when our stay is more than a couple of days. We often look for something on Air BnB, VRBO, Home Away or something of that nature.
We definitely look for the best deals when searching for a hotel, motel or similar lodging. On our trips, we get best offers all the time with Bookings.com. They even have places of the same sort you'd get with Air BnB, like Apartments or Guest-Houses. You might want to give them a try. We highly recommend it!
Check out some of our Hawaiian photos.