Archive for the ‘Arizona Outdoors’ Category

Dolly Steamboat Cruise

December 5th, 2011 by tucsonbb

Dolly Steamboat, Canyon Lake

We at Hacienda del Desierto just returned from a tour that included the experience of cruising beautiful Canyon Lake on the Dolly Steamboat in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona, just northeast of Phoenix.  The  captain was knowledgeable about the area and pointed out bighorn sheep right next to the lake and eagles up on the cliffs.  For 1 1/2 hours he pointed out the wildlife and geology of the lake area.  The Dolly steamboat provides protection from the sun or rain but also allows guests to walk outside on the open deck to experience the breezes and a better view of wildlife.  We like to point out to our guests what Arizona has to offer not only in Southern Arizona but in other parts of our state.  We’ve lived in Arizona since the early 50’s and never taken advantage of this lovely boating experience and will recommend it often.

Located on the historic Apache Trail (Highway 88) not far from Mesa, Scottsdale and Phoenix Arizona. Nature Cruises, Twilight Dinner Cruises and Astronomy Cruises are available year round.


New Baby This Week

November 28th, 2011 by tucsonbb

Baby Javelina with Mom

Guests at the Hacienda are always intrigued by the javelina herd that come every day to our property.  The herd maintains a size of between 15-18, and this week a new baby was added.  Usually twins are born, but sometimes a new baby is too weak or gets pneumonia and dies.  The entire herd protects any new babies from danger, so we must keep a safe distance at that time.  Last week one of the herd came right up to our back door and stood there, not allowing us to leave.  We didn’t understand why until we looked further out in the yard and saw the new baby.  We don’t know why this week we have only one baby, but he is a real cutie.  The javelina are particularly drawn to the area around our bird feeders because the birds are messy and seeds drop to the ground where the javelina can easily munch.  Another favorite are Palo Verde tree or Mesquite tree seeds that drop to the ground.  When they chew on the seeds, it sounds like the javelina are chewing on gravel.

Song of a Desert Toad

August 30th, 2011 by tucsonbb

We have created several wild animal ponds at Hacienda del Desierto Bed & Breakfast, and we’ve been hearing the night songs of the Colorado River Toad.  They  appear when our monsoon rains arrive in the summer. They must be calling to their lady loves. Breeding then commences. They eats insects, spiders, lizards, and other toads. They then dig into the ground and hybernate until the rains commence next summer in Southern Arizona. We, along with our guests, hear them during the night. We advise guests not to try to catch or handle them as they secrete a poisonous milky substance on the skin that can make you sick or paralyze you if you should tough your mouth or eyes after handling them. They are the most dangerous to dogs who like to tease them. Then owners must rinse out the pet’s mouth to get rid of the poison–if they are aware of what happened. When we used to have dogs, we kept them in the house or penned during the night during monsoon season.

Fearsome Looking Gila Monsters

August 16th, 2010 by tucsonbb

Best Buddies

These Gila Monsters may look ferocious, but they are really shy, slow moving  fellows who would rather avoid human contact.  Since they move rather sluggishly so aren’t much of a threat to humans.  Although the only poisonous lizard in the United States, an individual would have to really bother them or handle them to receive a bite.  The main problem with being bit is that their jaw locks down and can’t be separated so the poison is slowly released.

However, it has earned a fearsome reputation and is sometimes killed by hikers and homeowners despite
being protected by Arizona state law.  Cars can also kill them as we found out recently when we found a young dead one at the side of our entrance driveway at our Bed & Breakfast in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains near Saguaro National Park East.

Years ago, our  miniature poodle had a tendency to tease a rather large one that burrowed under a palo verde tree on our property.  The Gila Monster must have grazed our pet’s lower lip because she began to foam at the mouth.  Since we knew she had a tendency to tease the lizard, we rinsed out her mouth with a water hose, and she survived to live through an additional attack at a later date by coyotes.  One tough dog!

Song of the Colorado River Toad

August 1st, 2010 by tucsonbb

Colorado river toadThe last several nights, since the onslaught of the summer rain storms, we’ve heard the deep croak of the Colorado River Toad at our Tucson Bed & Breakfast.  We have several animal ponds on site to which these toads are attracted, undoubtedly looking for a mate. They can weight close to  two pounds and most look like they’d be comfortable sitting on a salad plate rather than a small lilly pad.  They burrow into the ground as much as two feet deep and wait until the summer rains come when they come out, mate, and lay eggs.

Their only real defense is a chemical substance coating their body which can paralyze and kill small animals.  In fact we had a miniature poodle years ago who bothered one.  Luckily we were able to hose out our pet’s mouth so that she lived.  Other animals aren’t so lucky.  They might also pose a danger to a child who handled one.

These intriguing animals remind us of the changing summer environment.  They are part of our beautiful desert landscape.

Night Blooming Cactus in Tucson

July 26th, 2010 by tucsonbb

If you want to see a gorgeous cactus flower then you must visit our Tucson, Arizona Bed and Breakfast during the monsoon season since it’s the only time that the exquisite night-blooming cactus blooms.
Cereus PeruvianusCereus Peruvianus

The night-blooming cactus, also known as Cereus Peruvianus, only blooms at night and only in the Tucson monsoon season.  The night-blooming cereus is a tall husky cactus that grows upright with six vertical ribs and sparse quarter-inch spines. They produce the most gorgeous trumpet shaped blooms which have many soft delicate petals that come in several shades of creams and light pink colors.
Inside each of the wonderful elegant blossoms are many long yellow threads of golden stamens topped with anthers.
The scent of the flowers is similar to that of a very light perfume and ripe melon.  These beautiful blooms are sometimes as large as a dinner plate!

Young night bloomer

Under the warm starlit skies of a Tucson, Arizona B&B night, a magical mystical show is about to take place at our Tucson,Arizona Bed and Breakfast with the exquisitely beautiful night blooming cactus setting the stage.

Cereus Peruvianus at sunriseCereus Peruvianus at sunrise

In the early morning when the sun rises over our Tucson Bed and Breakfast Inn, the birds and the bees and other insects enjoy partaking from the now closing cactus flowers.  Each cactus flower will close up, dry up and fall off the plants.

Where the flower once was, a soft ripe reddish pink round fruit will develop with many small black seeds inside.
The fruit is called a Peruvian apple or also known as tuna by the Mexican people.  Inside the fruit it looks very much like a soft over ripened kiwi fruit but it tastes rather plain.  The gila woodpeckers and many other Tucson birds and desert wildlife of the Arizona Sonora Desert love to eat these cactus fruits.

So, The chain of life goes on at the Tucson, Arizona Bed and Breakfast Inn
located in the Tucson desert nestled near the Saguaro National Park East.What a beautiful sight!

Summer Storms

July 10th, 2010 by tucsonbb

We had our first roll of summer thunder this afternoon marking the beginning of the summer storm season.  Morning is usually quiet with the pneumaafternoon bringing storm clouds, high winds, and then about 1/2 hour of rain– if we’re lucky.  Sometimes the storm stops with only the wind and lightning.

The clouds break open and sometimes we get the most striking sunsets imaginable.  This is what I saw as I took my evening walk last evening around 7:30 at Hacienda del Desierto Bed & Breakfast in the lovely Sonoran desert.

Southern Arizona Wildflowers

April 27th, 2010 by tucsonbb

Did you know you can get daily reports on where wildflowers are showing in the Tucson and Southern Arizona region?  Just go to  That website has many beautiful pictures of wildflowers currently in bloom.  One of the many draws for visitors to the Tucson area and Hacienda del Desierto Bed & Breakfast are the many varieties of spring blooms.

Perennial Penstemon
Creative Commons License photo credit: SearchNetMedia

Morning Walks in Sabino Canyon

February 27th, 2010 by tucsonbb

Guest Post by Lori Woodward Simons

One of the delights of my life is the month I spend as artist in residence at Hacienda Del Desierto B&B in Tucson each February.  During my stay, I take daily walks in either Saguaro National Park East; the entrance to the park is only three miles from the Hacienda, or else I take a half hour drive to Sabino Canyon for a pleasant morning or afternoon walk.

Outer Sabino Canyon near the Visitors’ Center with the Santa Catalina Mountains in the far ground.

One doesn’t have to trek far into the desert to take photos like the one above — the pavement is just steps away from this scene.

Walking trail from the Visitors’ Center towards the Canyon proper

This trail begins just behind the visitors’ center and runs parallel to the road (where the trams travel). The first hill with a cliff at the top, in this view, is called the Acropolis. The trails ends roughly at the base of the Acropolis, where it joins up with the road that leads into the canyon. The canyon itself offers spectacular views, marked at the base by a year-round stream — punctuated by a dozen or so stone bridges that were built during the Great Depression.

The vegetation along the stream is characterized by what is called the Riparian Zone, where giant sycamores cottonwoods, and willows grow along the well-watered banks of the stream. Just above that zone, the Sonoran Zone begins, where giant saguaros stand tall along the steep hillsides. The entire canyon is crowned with vertical cliffs – dominated by Thimble Peak at the Top of the Canyon.

The third Bridge into the Canyon.  After a winter rain, the stream flows over the tops of the bridges. One can easily wade across. However, the water is iced cold. This photograph was taking during the winter, so the trees are still bare. Thimble Peak is seen at the top of this photo behind the sycamore tree.

Sabino Canyon is at the base of the Catalina Mountains, about a half hour’s drive from the B&B. If you have a park pass for Saguaro National Park, that pass will also get you free parking at Sabino.

Sabino Sentinel 7×10 Watercolor. Private Collection.

Tucson’s Saguaro National Park East

November 25th, 2009 by tucsonbb

Hiking in the Park

Hiking in Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park East, just across the street from our lodging inn (Hacienda del Desierto Bed & Breakfast), offers spectacular views from hiking trails through the lush desert growth and up into the foothills of the Rincon Mountains.  On a regular basis National Park Service Rangers give guided walks explaining the flora and fauna of the area.  Extensive hiking maps can be obtained both at our bed and breakfast and at the park east side Visitor’s Center along with scheduled guided walks.  There is also a beautiful nine-mile drive through the park.  Near the end of the drive there are very large rocks you can climb on to watch our stunning Tucson, Arizona sunsets.