It is common knowledge that by the month of March, the Tucson sun blazes forth in unparalleled glory.
Not only is this weather a magnet for people who would like a winter home in the sun, but it also provides a leisurely environment for college students. Whether it be hiking, in-line skating, or just sitting around and reading a good book on a sun-drenched lawn, this is the life, and people take advantage of it.
Hiking appears to be the most popular outdoor exercise among UA students. When asked what their favorite spot is, music theory sophomores Joe Roach and Michael Ravenwood answered, "Sabino Canyon." Political science, senior Josh Cutler echoed their answer, as did many other students.
Sabino Canyon's popularity is the result of the large number of trails, bike routes and streams. The most popular of the Sabino Canyon trails leads to Seven Falls. It is not a trek exclusively for veteran hikers, but beginners are advised to have someone with them that has done it before.
At this time of year, the Seven Falls hike is the ideal activity on a sunny weekend. Most, if not all, of the canyon's streams and falls are still full of water. This is especially true after a couple of days of spring showers. Upon reaching the top, the weary hiker can relax on a rock face, cool off in one of the pools, or simply enjoy the view.
However, a few words of parental caution, like "it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt," are in order.
"If people would stop and think about what they are doing and why they are doing it, all accidents could be prevented. That's my opinion," said park ranger Brent Mann.
Mann suggests that for the safest hiking, one should wear light colored clothing and a good pair of hiking shoes or sneakers. Also, if at all possible, no one should hike alone. And always remember, a hiker can never have too much water.
For the hiking non-enthusiast who still has the desire to get closer to nature, Sabino Canyon offers a tram ride that runs the entire distance of the canyon. Unfortunately, some of the more visually rewarding parts of the canyon that are only accessible by foot and thus, the tram is not the best option.
Still, other people choose Sabino Canyon for a bike ride or a run. General agriculture, junior Cliff Papin commented that "Sabino Canyon has one of the best running trails in this town." Bicyclists, however, should be aware that speed limits are enforced.
Students who like someone to do the planning for them may want to look into Outdoor Adventures, a department of the UA Student Rec. Center. Outdoor Adventures schedules day, weekend, and week-long trips. The cost of all trips covers transportation, guidance, equipment and, on the longer trips, also covers food.
A hike on Mt. Wrightstown, in the Santa Ritas, is a good example of a day-long excursion. Another is a day of spelunking in Peppersauce Cave in the Santa Catalinas. As far as weekend trips go, backpacking in the Superstition Mountains, near Phoenix, is an event that has been on the Outdoor Adventure calendar in the past.
For spring break, Outdoor Adventures is planning trips that span the entire week. This spring, one might choose to go Kayaking in Baja, Mexico, backpacking in the Grand Canyon, or mountain biking in southern Utah.
No Outdoor Adventures single trip is more popular than any other according to employee, Donna Schwendt.
"We fill up the spots for all of them," she said.
For the person who still wants to go it alone but wants to do it in cooler temperatures, Mt. Lemmon provides the environment. Given it's higher altitude, the Mount' draws the kind of people who prefer pines to saguaro and creosote. There are countless trails, picnic areas, and viewpoints from which one can see virtually all of Tucson.
But if those who might want to stick desert terrain, head out to Saguaro National Park. Formerly named Saguaro National Monument, the Park offers many scenic trails and places for climbing. And for the avid cyclist, Saguaro National Park offers a six-mile bike route.
There is more good hiking to be found in Cheva Falls, in the Rincons, and Madeira Canyon, in the Santa Rita Mountains. Romero Canyon, however, is a harder hike over rougher terrain, but it has its rewards. They are the ever-cool Romero Pools.
Unfortunately, like an old family recipe, many hikers keep their lips sealed when concerning their favorite trails.
For those who consider hiking just, difficult walking and prefer traveling at higher speeds, there is the sport of in-line skating. The popularity of in-line skating has risen sharply since the turn of the decade and Tucson offers bladers a climate that is friendly to the sport all year round.
Many UA bladers can be found around campus braving mid
staircases backward or using the pedestrian underpass near Mountain as a half-pipe. Beware, however, because these practises are either not recommended or illegal. Other places that are not strangers to in-line skating are 4th Ave., Reid Park, the Rillito River Trail and various places downtown.
Some people prefer in-line skating for its relaxing aspects. Sociology, junior Lori Selikov says "I like to [in-line skate] at night, just around campus. It's nice."
To ensure safety while in-line skating, Matt Glines of Summit Hut on University Blvd. said "We advise people to wear all the pads." That includes a helmet, knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards. He also said that for stopping, if all else fails, fall into something soft, like grass, or grab on to something.
Besides hiking and in-line skating, other popular athletic spring activities that many students participate in include tennis, football, baseball, ultimate frisbee, sand volleyball, and jogging. When it gets a bit warmer, runners are a familiar sight around campus in the cooler hours of the evening.
Not all activities under the sun require exerting a large amount of energy. There are more relaxing pursuits. Andres Torrado, a sophomore astronomy major enjoys reading outside.
"That's the best part. I'm from Chicago, so being outside is kind of a luxury," says Torrado.
"I like to watch the sunset at Gates Pass," said Beckie Trimble, a family studies senior.
With all that there is to do under the sun, some might think that participation in indoor activities diminishes. Not so.
Jeff Benza, manager of the UA Student Rec Center said of their spring attendance. "I think it increases. When the weather's bad, [students] don't come out as much." He added that extremes in weather yield a drop in attendance from the usual 3,000 people per day.
While the rec center sees a rise in attendance, Rocks and Ropes, an indoor climbing gym sees fewer people come through their doors during the spring months. Rocks and Ropes' customers are mainly college students.
"We love having them here, and we try to get as many as we can," said Manager Jason Mullins of his clientele.
For the best of both worlds, some students turn to road trips to occupy their precious free time. Places on some students maps are Sedona, Bisbee, and Tombstone.
Sedona has long been considered a place of spiritual significance to believers in the new age movement, but it has aesthetic attractions as well. The red rocks of Sedona have been attracting photographers and admirers of creation alike for decades. Sedona is also a frequent site of Outdoor Adventures hiking trips. The trip to Sedona takes approximately 4 hours along I-10 and I-17.
History enthusiasts and fans of the old west have been heading to Tombstone since just after the turn of the century to see the site of the infamous shoot-out at the O.K. Corral, which is reenacted regularly. This sight of an important piece of American folklore is definitely the most popular attraction of Tombstone, but there are also several museums for fans of the era of the old west.
Once a mining town, Bisbee has now become a tourist center. The Copper Queen mine, that made the town famous, is still there and tours run through it daily. For people interested in the fine arts, Bisbee also boasts many galleries exhibiting the work of Southwestern artists as well as a the Bisbee Poetry Festival during the Summer. Bisbee is also known for La Vuelta De Bisbee, an annual bicycling race.
It is indisputable that Southern Arizona and Tucson, in particular, offers a wealth of outdoor activities beyond going to the movies. The creative will never be bored in this town, and in the Spring, there is even more to do.
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