TUCSON, Ariz. — Tumamoc Hill has increasingly become an important destination for Tucsonen’s looking for a great workout and a break from the city. To better accommodate this use, Tumamoc is undertaking a few changes to both enhance the walking experience and preserve the plants, animals, historic structures and scientific research occurring there. Tumamoc is an 860-acre ecological reserve and U.S. National Historic Landmark owned and operated by the University of Arizona in partnership with Pima County.
Beginning Monday, Sept. 5, the University of Arizona will extend access hours to the public to 4am-10pm, 18 hours a day. Previously, Tumamoc was closed to the public in the middle of the day, from 7:30am-5:30pm. In an effort to preserve the irreplaceable resources of Tumamoc Hill, cable fencing and gates will be installed at the top to mark the end of the walking pathway and to restrict access beyond the paved road.
“Tumamoc Hill is a remarkable community gathering place, and represents the best of our city. We will continue to welcome the public and help connect people to the wonders and history of this site and the Sonoran Desert” said Benjamin Wilder, interim director of Tumamoc Hill. “This is an opportunity to lift up the curtains of science and bring the public into a working research facility.”
A new English/Spanish mobile app, the “Tumamoc Tour,” will soon be available for both iOS and Android devices. The tour, narrated by David Yetman (English) and Alberto Burquez (Spanish) with music by Calexico and Gabriel Naim Amor tells the story of the Sonoran Desert through the lens of Tumamoc Hill. Six sections and 16 YouTube videos give the listener a fuller understanding of the significance of Tumamoc Hill. “So many people already love Tumamoc Hill though are not aware of its historical significance, this tour will expand people’s sense of what a special place this is,” added Wilder.
Tumamoc hosted human inhabitants over 2,500 years ago when indigenous people developed a village at the top of the hill. Nearly 500 years later, the Hohokam settled the area and farmed the land at the base of the hill, the Tohono O’odham are the descendants of those people that used to reside on Tumamoc Hill.
It eventually became the site of the longest continuously studied ecological plots in the world, with research on the saguaro cacti beginning in 1903, under the direction of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C. The UA officially purchased Tumamoc Hill in 1956, focusing on research, education and preservation.
“Our goal is to enhance the walker experience and give interested visitors to Tumamoc a greater understanding of the significance of this ecological reserve,” said Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the UA College of Science. “This app was conceived last fall and is modeled after the Mt. Lemmon Science Tour, which has exceeded our expectations with more than 100,000 downloads since it was released in Fall 2015.”