Think of the Sky Island Scenic Parkway, as a kind of time machine. No, really. Let yourself go a minute and imagine a landscape that compresses an extraordinary range of topography into one 30-mile stretch of road. The road, known as the Mount Lemmon Parkway, does just that. It takes visitors through five life zones, from Sonoran Desert lowlands all the way up to a mixed-conifer forest, the geographic equivalent of traveling from Mexico to Canada.
Commanding the skyline above Finger Rock Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains is an eponymous stone pinnacle, that resembles a clenched fist with its index finger pointing toward the heavens. This is your first clue to the nature of the trail, that makes an aggressive, unrelenting ascent of its rugged domain.
I was eager to know more about desert habitat, after a hike I attempted in Tucson. (Read about that hike here.) There are plenty of things you should know before hiking in the desert, especially if you’re not accustomed to the climate and the surroundings. I hail from the east coast, where hiking is one hundred percent different than hiking on the west coast. After my ‘hike gone wrong’ I sought out the best place to learn about the desert, and came across the Sonora Desert Museum.