We were tipped off that you don't need to be a big western-movie fan to enjoy Old Tucson, so we drove through the Saguaro National Park to get there.
Old Tuscon is the movie set that's been settled out in the desert for over 70 years. Just think OK Corral, High Chaparral.... It's not quite the backdrop of Monument Valley, nor does it quite appear to live up to it's claim to be the "Hollywood of Arizona", but it's fun, nonetheless.
It is about an hour drive from Green Valley and so makes a good day out, with themed shows, such as the gunfight in the pictures, dancing girls in Miss Kitty's saloon, train rides and walking tours. It appears quite a compact lot, not too far to walk in the hot sun and with old-fashioned ice-cream parlour and bar for refreshments. The food available wasn't really worth writing home about - so we won't. But then again, it wasn't crowded that day, we're visiting off-season and several things are closed so the choice was just about limited to the BBQ.
The staged gunfights and the medicine man show were contrived but even the big kids were entertained! The drive to, and back from, Old Tucson takes you through another National Park: Saguaro. The park is full of more cacti than you can shake a stick at - and not much else, so you probably won't have a stick to shake!
Some trivia facts about Saguaro - The saguaro cactus (Carnegiea Gigantea ) is the state symbol of Arizona, appearing on all car license plates, and provides a universally recognized image of the Southwest. It is the largest and one of the slowest growing of all cacti, reaching up to 15 meters high and living for several centuries. Plants can weigh up to 8 tons, partly because of the large amount of water the stems can hold - after rainfall the cactus can absorb hundreds of gallons in a short time. The saguaro may be only 6 inches high after 10 years, and the characteristic branched appearance is reached only after around 80 years !