Tumamoc Hill – Attraction Guide

Photo Credit: Paul Mirocha

Tumamoc Hill is a popular hiking spot, natural preserve, and home of the University of Arizona Desert Laboratory.

Managed jointly by the University of Arizona and Pima County, the paved, sloping road gains 600 feet in just 1.5 miles – making it an intense cardio workout.

Tumamoc Hill is home to the University of Arizona Desert Laboratory and is one of the most important cultural sites in the region. You can learn more about the history of the site on the Tumamoc Tour (see below).

One yelp reviewer by the name of Barrio H. had this to say, “This hill is more fun than a Stair Climber in a stinky gym. The best part is the top where you have a 360 view of Tucson and beyond.”

Melissa J called it, “a perfect cardio workout” and Cheryl M. called it “the best little hike in Tucson.”

According the the official website, “Some well-traveled walkers even claim Tumamoc is the best walk in all North America.”

GENERAL INFORMATION

Where is Tumamoc Hill located?

Immediately west of “A” Mountain and downtown Tucson.

From I-10 and Speedway, drive 1 mile west on Speedway to Silverbell. Turn south (left) on Silverbell and drive 0.2 miles to West Anklam Rd. Turn west (right) on West Anklam and the trailhead is on your left.

Where should I park?

Along the street on Anklam, near the St. Mary’s Hospital parking lot.

What is the length/distance of the hike?

1.5 miles one-way. 3 miles roundtrip.

How much time should I allot for this hike?

Depends on how fast you want to go. ;) One hour total would probably be a safe estimate.

What are the hours?

4:00am-10:00pm daily

Why would I visit Tumamoc Hill?

  • To walk (or run – if you’re crazy!) up a desert hill
  • To get a free cardio workout
  • To take in an incredible view of the city
  • To be immersed in and learn from one of the world’s longest running research stations, the UA Desert Laboratory at Tumamoc Hill

How much does it cost?

Free.

What should I wear?

Good walking shoes, sunglasses, a hat, and lightweight/breathable clothing. Bring along a sweatshirt if you’re visiting in the winter.

What should I bring with me?

Water bottles, snacks, and a camera are recommended.

Are bathrooms available?

Two port-a-potties is available about halfway to the top, but you might as well use the restrooms at home or work before heading to the hill.

What is the best season for visiting Tumamoc Hill?

October thru April are ideal because the temperatures tend to be more moderate than in the summer months. That said, summer visits can also be fun if you watch the weather and plan your visit accordingly.

What are the most and least crowded days of the week to visit Tumamoc Hill?

7,000+ walkers climb the hill every week so Tumamoc isn’t exactly a “secret.” That being said, crowds tend to peak at early morning, sunset, and on weekends/holidays.

What is the best time of day to visit Tumamoc Hill?

Early mornings and evenings offer the advantage of being cooler, but anytime of day can be nice depending on the weather.

What kinds of plants and animals will I see?

Saguaro cacti, palo verde, ocotillo, trees, deer, rattlesnakes.

DINING

Is outside food allowed?

Yes, but note that it’s a very short hike and it’s not really a “picnicking” kind of place. Bring an energy bar or some trail mix if you like, but be sure to stow away all your trash in your bag or pocket until it can be properly disposed of.

What dining venues are available on-site?

None.

What restaurants are located NEAR Tumamoc Hill?

You’ll probably want to head to the Downtown area for a bite to eat.

Our top picks within a 4-mile radius include:

  • Agustin Kitchen, 100 S. Avenida del Convento (2.8 miles away) – new American cuisine, cocktails
  • Seis, 130 South Avenida del Convento #100, Tucson, AZ 85745
  • El Charro Cafe, 311 N. Court Ave. (3.5 miles away) – tacos, enchiladas, burritos, $3.95 children’s menu
  • La Cocina, 201 N. Court Ave. (3.7 miles away) – indoor + outdoor seating, American + Vegetarian cuisine
  • Cafe Poca Cosa, 110 E. Pennington St. (3.8 miles away) – “imaginative Mexican cuisine in an upscale, et casual, bistro setting”
  • 47 Scott, 47 N. Scott Ave. (3.8 miles away) – dinner (4pm-10pm), happy hour
  • Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery, 266 E. Congress St (3.9 miles away) – fun atmosphere, burgers, salads, sandwiches, pasta, beer + wine, really good homemade ice cream

BABIES & KIDS

What ages would be best suited for a hike up Tumamoc Hill?

All ages! We hiked the hill with our 7-year-old, 4-year-old, and almost 2-year-old. Our 7-year-old and 4-year-old are pretty athletic and were able to hike up the hill without assistance. We pushed our 2-year-old in an umbrella stroller. Accompanying us were my husband’s parents (who are in their mid-sixties).

The hill is a popular hike for all ages – from kids to college students to retirees.

Should I bring a stroller?

The “trail” is asphalt all the way up to the top. Note, however, that the surface is a little “bumpy” so a jogging-style stroller will make for a smoother ride for baby.

Is there a designated area for moms to feed their babies?

No, but there are benches with backs that are available as you walk up the hill that would be just right for a stop with a hungry baby.

Are changing tables available?

No.

What about my other “baby” (dog, cat, etc)?

Pets are not permitted due to the fact that the hill “can be a dangerous place for them and they can upset the wildlife.”

EVENTS

Can I have my wedding on Tumamoc Hill?

No.

How can I learn more about Tumamoc Hill’s history and mission? 

There are two outstanding ways to experience Tumamoc Hill more fully.

(1) There is an ongoing science lecture series, which is free to the public! The Science Café at Tumamoc Hill provides speakers on topics that relate to the science, history, archeology, and educational mission of Tumamoc Hill. The talks are held in the library of the old Desert Laboratory (the buildings that are roughly half-way up the Hill). The staff asks that you make a reservation for the Science Café so they can have sufficient shuttle service for the participants.

(2) Download the FREE hourlong audio Tumamoc Tour. The Tumamoc Tour is divided into six sections that correspond to a distinct portion of the road, each punctuated with music by the band Calexico and paced to coincide with your walk up and down the Hill.

MISCELLANY

Is Tumamoc Hill on Facebook and Twitter?

Yes – you can like Tumamoc Hill on Facebook and follow Tumamoc Hill on Instagram. Use hashtag #TumamocHill.

What else do I need to know before I hike Tumamoc Hill?

That just about covers it. Have a great time!