Have you ever just kinda bumped or happened into a place that you consider a hidden gem? We recently had one of those pop up on our radar.
While doing a Google Earth search for Jeep Trails in Tucson I noticed a pop up flag that said Agua Caliente Park, literally “Hot Water” in Spanish. After finding it I googled the name and found the parks website. This is a trip worth doing. The park is on the far East side of Tucson.
The 101 acre park has a long history. Human interaction with the spring goes back 5500 years. The spring flows periodically during the year and tends to flow more when it rains in the nearby Agua Caliente Mountains. This flow of water hrough faults between gneissic rock conglomerate sediment beneath the park, the area has probably been inhabited for thousands of years. There were originally two springs, a “Hot Spring” and a “Cold Spring”. The two springs produced a water flow of more than 500 gallons per minute (gpm). In the 1930s, the springs were blasted in an effort to increase the water flow. This had the opposite effect and reduced the water flow from 500 gpm to between 150 and 300 gpm and collapsing the two into one spring with a temperature of around 72 degrees year around. The spring was blasted again in the early 1960’s in another attempt to increase water flow, which unfortunately cut the water flow again down to around 100 to 125 gpm. Throughout the years, the area has had many different purposes, from ranching to a health spa. Most of the time the “ranch” term did not follow our traditional idea of a ranch but denoted an agricultural use in general
With the availability of water agricultural uses not typical of the Tucson basin could be implemented. An orchard contained at least 3000 trees of a wide variety of fruits. Other types of ornamental trees were also planted or encouraged. The huge mesquite tree east of the ranch house is estimated to be about 300 years old.
The oasis operated as a ranch and dude ranch for many years. It attracted many people because of its reputed “healing waters.” For a much broader view of the Parks History click here.
As I’ve pointed out this is a true oasis in the desert. If you visit the park you will find many walking trails and the old homestead. The park has undergone a restoration of the original pond to help reduce loss of water into the substrate. At this writing the pond is a beautiful aqua marine color due to the sealant that is being applied to the waters surface that eventually falls to the bottom and creates a nearly impermeable barrier.
How to get there from Tucson City center
Enjoy the day
This park is a shady and relaxing place for a picnic, just laying in the grass, reading a book, playing soccer with your kids on the lawn or hiking one of the level paved or gravel trails.
Know before you go
- No alcohol
- Barbecues may only be fueled with charcoal or propane
- No fishing, no wading or swimming, do not climb trees
- No bicycles, scooters, or skateboards
- Dogs on leash and clean up after your pet. No horses
- No motorized vehicles, motorized toys, or drones
- No pop-up shade canopies, jumping castles, piñatas, kites, confetti, and balloons or activities requiring staked nets or posts
- No loud music or PA systems
- No metal detecting and geocaching
- Do not release or abandon pets or wildlife
- No collecting firewood, plants, fish, wildlife, and any other natural or cultural resources
- Do not feed ducks or other wildlife
As you’ve seen this is a place worth going to for an morning or afternoon. It is also reputed to be an excellent bird habitat. If you are a Bird Watcher bring your list and binoculars. I hope you enjoyed this blog entry. If you did please “like” it and feel free to leave a message.