Exploring Southern Arizona

To say weather is fickle is probably an understatement considering the unusual and extreme weather the United States has experienced this winter.  Last winter Arizona encountered some record low temperatures.  Tucson even endured a rare February snowstorm which Al and I were fortunate to have experienced in 2013.  Yes, fortunate because it was extremely beautiful, but we were also very happy when 24 hours later there were no signs left of the unique storm.

snow in Tucson

Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson, Arizona – February 2013

Last year’s Arizona record low temps had us rearranging our plans numerous times.  The plan to explore southern Arizona was scrapped due to the inclement weather.  Benson, Tombstone, and Bisbee will just have to wait.

This winter found us experiencing record low temperatures in southern Texas while Arizona was enjoying unusual warmth.  Hum…..my only response to that is, ‘Don’t follow us as those record-breaking lows seem to tag along with Al and Ingrid”.  That said the original plan to drift around Texas for the month of February was quickly changed when the use of the term “Polar Vortex” kept making its way into the Texas weather report.

After a quick weather Google, we were off for a week to Benson, Arizona, to explore parts of southern Arizona that we bypassed last year.  Southern Arizona is somewhat mountainous and elevations can range from 2,000 feet to over 7,000 feet.  We know it’s all about elevation when it comes to weather and temperatures and this season appears to be very agreeable around these here parts.

We settle into a really nice RV site at the Escapees SKP Saguaro RV Co-op in Benson and set about making plans for our explorations around southern Arizona.Holy Trinity MonasteryOur first stop is just 4 miles down the road in the town of St. David.  This quaint little desert town of less than 2,000 residents is rich in Mormon history as Mormon settlers founded this community in the 1800’s.  During the 1900’s non-Mormon’s from Oklahoma and Texas moved to the area along with the discovery of gas production.Holy Trinity MonasteryIn the 1970’s the Holy Trinity Monastery was established.  Al and I were quick to tour the grounds and even checked out the on-site RV Park.  We felt the sites were extremely close together, but for those seeking spiritual enlightenment it might be interesting to spend a night or two.

St. David

Meditation Garden at Holy Trinity Monastery in St, David, Arizona

The meditation garden was pretty and peaceful.  The church architecture was beautiful as is the humongous cross.  We noticed a couple of gorgeous free roaming peacocks.Holy Trinity Monastery

Holy Trinity Monastery


Strolling the grounds was a very peaceful experience and I’m glad we stopped.  For more information you can visit the monastery website.

Continuing down the road, we stop in Tombstone……..

Arizona sunset

Another beautiful Arizona sunset viewed from our campsite

The Monastery of the Heart: An Invitation to a Meaningful Life

Arizona Road and Recreation Atlas


55 thoughts on “Exploring Southern Arizona

    • I think you would enjoy the spiritual atmosphere of the monastery…..I know I did and I would highly recommend staying at the SKP Saguaro Co-op. Perfect location to explore southern AZ.

      • We will definitely check it out. We visited Nina and Paul when they were in Benson the first time and it looked like a nice park. The price is certainly right. 🙂

  1. Shoot, we missed St. David. What a lovely Monastery. Besides the weather, we now have another reason to revisit this area.

    • Don’t you just love having reason to return to fun areas? We left plenty of sites left for us to explore on our future travels through the area.

  2. Enjoyed your pictures, especially the peacock! That snow was beautiful, too. Sounds like Arizona is cooperating a bit more weather-wise than your previous destination. 😉 Enjoy!

    • Last year AZ got hammered with cold, this year TX got it. Hope TX has gotten enough moisture to help the drought conditions. It’s super dry….scary dry in AZ.

  3. Gilbert Ray campground is one of our favorites! We always stay there when we’re in the Tucson area — we actually prefer it to Catalina SP. Thank you for sharing about the lovely monastery, it’s just the kind of place that we enjoy visiting.

    • We’ve tried to score a reservation at Catalina SP the last two years without success. I’m always waiting too long. We really liked Gilbert Ray as well and it’s just down the road from the Desert Sonoran Museum….bonus.

  4. We didn’t make it to Benson last year either because of the weather. We were going to drive down to Benson one day from Tucson but the road was closed due to snow. I think we’ll hit the SKP park as well for our visit to this area.

    Thanks for the information on St, David’s. Looks like a place we should visit.

    • The SKP park is the perfect place to explore southern Arizona and I highly recommend it. Bisbee is an hour away and Kartchner Caverns less than an hour. The Dragoons and a couple of wildlife refuges are also less than an hour away. If I hadn’t gotten ill, we would have explored a heck of a lot more.

  5. Love that Peacock pic. Remember how i thought those peacock were something else at Casa Grande? We have not been to this area so we might be here someday too.
    Glad to know you are sounding and feeling better now.

    • Thanks ML. I don’t know….you sure saw a lot of the area last winter. Because I was already starting to not feel well, we barely explored the area. I guess that means we have to go back LOL.

    • You and me both. I’m glad we bid farewell to TX when we did because the cold continued on and off. Now we’re enjoying gorgeous weather in AZ….. that is until the heat pushes us onward 🙂

    • It’s very liberating being able to change plans at the last minute or follow the weather – flip flop weather that is. There was definitely a calm peacefulness to the place that I really enjoyed 🙂

  6. Strangely enough Arizona has pretty good camping year round. Most people think we only have the desert, but there is a lot to see around here. We go from desert to mountains in almost no time. Not too long ago we traveled through beautiful snow covered landscape back to our home in Phoenix. I can’t wait until our home is wherever we drop the legs. But we’re young and still have a few years left before retirement.

    • Yep, it’s all about elevation. AZ does provide some awesome places to enjoy even if it’s just for long weekends. Don’t rush those retirement years, comes quicker than you realize 😆

      • LOL good point. I meant more that I would like to be able to live without being tied to any one location. We head out every other weekend, and I post about it when we get back. It’s well worth it to just head out every weekend and get away from “Cell Phone Range.” I don’t really want to be “retirement age” just retired 😀

        I’m enjoying reading your blog though.

  7. Love the photos… and what a tranquil place that looks, I wanted to suggest the that next year you should come here for March, but still suffering rain which has now been falling for 11 days I’d avoid it here as well… floods every where once again with our house even having water coming up through the floor because of such a high water table, dams over flowing that haven’t for years and others that have broken wiping our a whole caravan park… so take your chances there no where seems safe or predictable any more… My camera thinks I’ve divorced it as I have not been able to take a photo for weeks…

    • Gosh Bulldog, so sorry to hear you are dealing with so much unwanted water. It seems this winter there’s no safe haven from weather extremes. In our south western states we have drought conditions and concerns for wildfires. Other parts of the country will start experiencing floods as the record snowfall starts melting. Al and I might find ourselves moving frequently this year in search of fair weather 🙂

  8. Last year we spent winter in AZ and everyone in Tx was telling us how nice it was there. So this winter we are in Tx enjoying from 9-80s degree weather. Next year we might have to go to Australia to get a warm winter.

    • I know….this winter has been crazy. We were in Q last winter enduring record cold which was no fun and this year TX for the cold. Maybe next year we’ll get it right LOL.

    • That Tucson snowstorm was a cool experience and it’s not as if this Colorado gal hasn’t seen my fair share of snow. Seeing the snow in the desert was so unique and once the snow melted the desert felt alive. The plants were all swollen and happy from the moisture. It really was a special treat. What’s even funnier is that photo is in Color and not black and white.

  9. hahaha, love the bit about not following your travel plans weather wise. you did miss an exceptionally warm january in the phoenix area. love bisbee- plenty to do, good restaurants, and much-too-tempting art shops!

  10. Tombstone and Bisbee are must sees, albeit somewhat commercialized. We still remember the Ajo area and Hickiwan Trails RV park…I have a gazillion quartz and rose stones from that desert…Have fun out West!

    • We really enjoyed the Boothill Cemetery. Story forthcoming; now that the brain is working (well somewhat) I need to get caught up with my posts. Sounds like you could use an AZ fix LOL.

    • Thanks Char. I was surprised to see such a large LDS Church in such a small community but after doing a little research it became clear and funny that a monastery would be built in a Mormon community. Fascinating history 🙂

      • Yeah, Arizona has a large LDS population, especially down south. That monastery looks beautiful though. I love the wood beamed ceilings. The peacock made me laugh because I just finished a book this morning called Cry of the Peacock

        • The monastery was very pretty. I did not know southern AZ had a large LDS population but I guess that makes sense. I learned a great deal about the Mormon migration while living in Vegas and from my children’s sitter. We lived in a very popular ward in Peccole Ranch and in Co. Springs I attended a few woman’s nights with my neighbor. Enjoyed it very much 🙂

          • You’ve experienced a little of everything it seems with all your moves and traveling. I love how you figure out the history of all the places you visit.

  11. That is on my “must see” list! Hoping your cough is better….my homeopathy group just having a discussion about those lingering flu symptoms….you might try some Nux Vomica.

    • Personal opinion; does not need to be on a “must see” list. It goes on the list “if we’re in the area, we’ll stop”…..not worth a special trip. I do have some lingering flu symptoms so thanks for the tidbit – appreciate 🙂

    • Thanks Brandon. We’re hoping to make it into the FL panhandle next winter….that is as long as the term “Polar Vortex” isn’t being used 😆

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