The Place to Be Since 1200 B.C.
It's no accident that the Tucson region is home to more than a million residents and host to more than 7 million visitors a year. There's something magical about this place where the Santa Cruz and Rillito Rivers converge, where five mountain ranges form a protected valley, and where majestic saguaros stand guard on the desert floor while aspen and pine whisper high above them on the mountain peaks.
Early History of the Tucson Region
Located in Southern Arizona, Tucson was founded on August 20, 1776—an event celebrated annually at Tucson's birthday party, La Fiesta de San Agustín. But people had long before felt something special here and made it their home. In fact, the area we call Tucson is one of the oldest continually inhabited areas in North America.
Hohokam Indians lived and farmed here for 4,000 years before Spanish missionaries and soldiers arrived in the late 1600s and eventually established the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson and the Mission San Xavier del Bac—the two most iconic and historic structures in the region. "The Old Pueblo," as the adobe-walled Presidio became known, remains Tucson's nickname to this day.
Tucson in the 1800s
Then a part of Mexico, Tucson officially became part of the United States in 1854, just years before the start of the 1860 to 1880 "Old West" era of clashes among cattle ranchers, settlers, miners, and Apache Indians throughout the Southwest.
In 1877, the city was incorporated, making Tucson the oldest incorporated city in Arizona, and with the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1880, Tucson's multicultural roots expanded and deepened as new residents adopted customs of the Tohono O'odham Indians and Mexicans living here.
Tucson is set in a valley of the Sonoran Desert surrounded by five mountain ranges. A trip from the 2,389-foot valley floor to the 9,157-foot Mt. Lemmon summit along the Catalina Highway-Sky Island National Scenic Byway traverses seven of the world's nine life zones—the span of ecosystems you'd see driving from Mexico to Canada.
The city is bordered on all sides by protected natural areas: Coronado National Forest, Catalina State Park, Ironwood Forest National Monument, and Saguaro National Parks East and West (among the best places to see the giant saguaro cactus native only to Southern Arizona and Native Mexico).
Boasting an average 350 sunny days a year and warm dry air, Tucson's climate is ideal for year-round outdoor recreation, with winter temperatures reaching average highs of 64-75°F. Summer days are often hot with low humidity—great for indoor activities like museums, art galleries, and shopping or relaxing indoor or poolside at one of the area's world-famous spas or resorts. Cool mornings and evenings and long twilights throughout summer are great for cookouts, patio dining, and activities like hiking and horseback riding, and early and later tee times are available at reduced summer prices.
The second-largest city in Arizona and the county seat of Pima County, Tucson neighbors the towns of Marana, Oro Valley, Catalina, South Tucson (an independent municipality in the heart of the city), Sahuarita, Vail, and Green Valley.
Tucson is home to the University of Arizona—established as Arizona's first university in 1885 and now a campus of 50,000 students and staff from around the world—and a number of annual events drawing participants and spectators from around the world, including the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase, La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (Tucson Rodeo), Tucson Festival of Books, Tucson International Mariachi Conference, the El Tour bike race, and the Tucson Classic.
Tucson, Arizona, grew out of the dangers, opportunities and cultural crossings of the Old West. Today, that heritage shapes us without limiting who we are: a destination for nearly 7 million visitors a year; a place known for outstanding hiking and outdoor adventures, rich cultural traditions, a vibrant arts scene, world-class golf and great dining; and a thriving desert home to more than 1 million residents.
A joint effort of Visit Tucson and Imagine Greater Tucson.