Gopher snake, Tucson Mountains, AZ
Saguaro cactus at sunset, Tucson Mountain Park.
Javalinas in the arroyo, Tucson Mountains Park, Tucson Mountains, AZ

Saguaro cactus at sunset, Tucson Mountain Park. Photo courtesy of Roger Carpenter.

Camino de Oeste Wash running down from Tucson Mountain Park after summer rains, 2017. Tucson Mountains, AZ

Gates Pass Area Neighborhood Association, Tucson, AZ, USA (GPANA.info) at https://www.gpana.info/tucson-mountain-park.html. The text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. The photographs are copyright by the photographers with all rights reserved.

Copyright 2018 GATES PASS AREA NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION. All rights reserved. Site issues? Email donna@rsdesign.net

Do NOT feed the javalina. When they lose their fear of humans, Game and Fish may have to remove and kill them.

Camino de Oeste Wash running down from Tucson Mountain Park after summer rains, 2017. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Leigh.

Javalina mother and child in the arroyo. Herds are common wherever prickly pear cactus grows. These collared peccaries are one of four hoofed species in the Sonoran Desert. The others are bighorn sheep, mule deer, and pronghorns. Photo courtesy of Roger Carpenter.

Gopher snake, Tucson Mountains. These large constrictor snakes rise to a striking position, flatten their heads, hiss, and shake their tails when threatened - mimicking a rattlesnake. A good defense until we came along. Large snakes help keep the rodent population in check. Photo courtesy of Roger Carpenter.

Tucson Mountain Park

We are fortunate to live next to Tucson Mountain Park. The Park provides recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, and much more in the Gates Pass area and beyond. More than 700 acreswere added to Tucson Mountain Park through the efforts of Tucson Mountain West and Gates Pass Area Neighborhood Associations and their members.

  • 215 acres came in 1988 when TMWNA President Bill Saller worked with our Supervisor, David Yetman, the Board of Supervisors, and Pima County, to exchange Gary Triano's proposed Park Point subdivision land at the southwest corner of North Camino de Oeste and the Ironwood Hills Road alignment for County land on East Ajo Way.


  • In 1998, as TMWNA transitioned to GPANA, we convinced the Pima County Board of Supervisors to add two important parcels to Tucson Mountain Park. The first 155 acres were part the Saguaro Cliffs subdivision on the west side of Camino de Oeste, between Trails End Road and almost to Gates Pass Road. Our Neighborhood Association members went door-to-door with petitions and filed numerous complaints with the Pima County Development Services and with the Supervisors. Ultimately, the Supervisors voted to purchase the south portion of property, including the entire southern wash that provides a wildlife corridor to Feliz Paseos Park. A second parcel of 32 acres on the northwest corner of Gates Pass Road and Camino de Oeste was purchased later after the Supervisors voted to downzone the property, a controversial issue as the Arizona State Legislature had passed a law prohibiting downzoning. Tucson Mountain Park now runs all the way to that corner, increasing habitat and wildlife corridors.


  • Painted Hills' nearly 300 acres were purchased by Pima County in 2016 after much hard work by GPANA and many others over a 13 year period. Bruce Gungle, Carolyn Campbell and others were joined by GPANA Presidents Roger Carpenter and Don Uhlir to spear-head response to proposed developments of the "saguaro forest" between West Speedway and Anklam Road. These streets are the main gateways to the Tucson Mountains, parks, and other tourist and local attractions. The final stage began in 2015, when The Peaks at Starr Pass proposed to closely crowd houses with only 5-ft. side yards along the edges of both streets. The two designated scenic routes would have looked like the backs of condominium complexes. This was a turning point in public opinion. Unfortunately, we did not have many options to oppose the plan, except one. The City of Tucson planned to decide in 2015 whether, and to which regions, Tucson Water would add future water service, as a means of regulating growth. TMA and GPANA representatives met with city officials several times, then individually with each of the City Council Members, urging them to vote against future water supplies to the Painted Hills property. Councilwoman Regina Romero and Councilman Paul Cunningham were hopeful of adding Painted Hills to Tucson Mountain Park. The Council voted to deny water to the Painted Hills property. Development could not take place without water supplied by some other water company. The owner decided to sell to Pima County. After public hearings in 2017, Pima County began developing the Painted Hills' access, hiking, and biking trails for a wide variety of users with completion scheduled for 2018. Map of Painted Hills at Tucson Mountain Park.


  • Another historic stone house is located across from the east end of Painted Hills. The Supervisors voted unanimously in 2013 to name the property the Mary Henderson Desert Center. Mrs. Henderson was a passionate environmental activist. The Pima County Parks and Recreation Commission hopes to develop a trailhead to link the 23 acre site to Tucson Mountain Park, Starr Pass Resort, and Painted Hills.



  • In addition, GPANA supported the Tucson Mountains Association's successful effort to add the 180 acre Sweetwater Preserve on Sweetwater Drive to the Park system.


Access and use issues

  • The interface between residents and the gun and bow hunters in the Tucson Mountains and Tucson Mountain Park remains divisive. GPANA provides a forum to speak with staff of the Arizona Game and Fish Department about these ongoing issues and the enforcement of the law both inside and outside the Park in our neighborhoods.


  • By 2018, the popular Dave Yetman Trail generated more vehicular traffic to the small parking lot at the trailhead, creating dust and other issues for nearby residents. Since this dirt road extension of Camino de Oeste was not a dedicated road, Pima County was not responsible. However, a GPANA member who lives nearby, with the support of our Board, convinced the Pima County Parks and Recreation Department to assume responsibility for some of the grading and maintenance.


(Protecting Our Land, Water, and Heritage: Pima County's Voter-Supported Conservation Efforts, Tucson Mountains, pp.64-72, an informative pdf | Tucson Mountain and Gates Pass Scenic Overlook from Visit Tucson)