Treasure right here in our backyard

Door prize winners Marsha Bellsey, Joy Allbright, Ranger Jack McCabe and door prize winner Kay McNutt

Pam Boedeker

Jack McCabe has been a ranger at Catalina State Park for 24 years! He loves his job and all 5500 acres of the park. He shared his enthusiasm and knowledge with the SaddleBrooke Nature Club at the December meeting. When his presentation was over and all questions answered, the full house was ready to join one of his guided walks in the park.

Some far-sighted citizens fought long and hard for that park land. Were it not for them, that property would have become Sun City!

Instead there was a land swap. The federal government land became a state park. Sun City was built on the land off Rancho Vistoso Blvd.

Throughout his presentation Jack listed the many activities which take place in the park. It opens at 5:00 a.m. and closes at 10:00 p.m. There are geology walks, bird walks, guided hikes and much more. Volunteers (some from SaddleBrooke) bring out the reptiles and other native critters for a great show and tell on Saturdays October-April. The new and popular Music in the Mountains Concerts are the first Saturday December-April. Catalina State Park is the most popular place to camp in Tucson. It is important to book way in advance.

The Hohokum history in Catalina State Park makes it even more special.

The Hohokum lived well and flourished on that land for 500-1,000 years! Archeology finds in the area indicate 200-300 people lived there on one of the largest village sites in Tucson.

While the archeologists don’t necessarily agree with Jack’s philosophy, he feels strongly that this was a sacred site to the Hohokum people. Treasures have been found in the area including pots of thousands of beads and bells made of copper. Jack feels this is strong evidence that it was a cultural and religious site. Possibly this was the location where children becoming adults would come for their vision quest.

An area known as Southerland Art District is the location of a vast array of petroglyphs. The Hiking Club in SaddleBrooke has this as a destination. Or Jack will guide hikers to the area.

It is in this area that some of the new Big Horn Sheep can be seen.

Mountain lions are inhabitants of Catalina State Park. They are nocturnal animals. If you see them during the day be on alert. They may be infected with rabies.

Entrance fee to the park is $7 per vehicle. Or the economical annual pass is available at the gate. Trails are always open. Caution is advised during winter or monsoon rains. The Canada del Oro Wash runs through the park and can carry swift, fast-rising water.

There are activities for all levels. Bridal Trail is hardscaped and accessible. There are biking trails and seven miles of roadway.

Information about upcoming events can be found at the Catalina State Park website. There is so much to do right here in our backyard!