Welcome to Tumamoc Hill, an oasis of desert in the heart of the city, a National Historic Landmark, a sanctuary, a beacon, a summit with panoramic views.

We come here for different reasons and with different perspectives. Some of us come here for friendship, some for solitude, some for exercise and rejuvenation. People have gathered here for thousands of years, and on this tour you’ll learn why Tumamoc Hill has attracted and inspired so many people for so long.

Listen to the Introduction .mp3 file, or visit the Section Highlights for more information.

Audio file

When you walk Tumamoc, you walk through the beauty of this living desert, the Sonoran Desert, a desert like no other.

You walk in the footsteps of the native people who first settled in this region over 4000 years ago.

You follow the paths of scientists who were inspired by this desert, by these plants, by the mountains on all horizons. Those men and women used science to understand this place, and they changed the way we know our world.

Here on the hill you walk among deep layers of history. Tucson is the oldest continuously inhabited site in North America. Native Americans first came here because the Santa Cruz River flowed year-round in the valley below. Water brought life to the desert, and those ancient people used that water to sustain a community.

More than two thousand years ago, people chose Tumamoc Hill as the site for a village, a place of significance and safety where they could look down on the curve of the Santa Cruz, the river that sustained them, and survey the valley in all directions.

In this tour, you’ll come to see that Tumamoc is a special place for many reasons. Many other hills rise around Tucson, but none of them holds the unique combination of size and shape and location that has drawn people to Tumamoc for centuries.


Section Highlights

Each section highlight features a video about that topic.


Learn about the inspirational origin of the cultural anchor of Tumamoc Hill, the Luminous Mother Shrine and Altar.

The Boathouse

What is the the old building at the base of the Hill and why is it called the boathouse?

Annual Plants

Where do the colorful blooms of spring come from?


Tumamoc’s namesake plant, the Tumamoc Globeberry.


The grass that is eating the Sonoran Desert, where it came from and what is being done.