Best hiking trails at sunset

Best Places to See The Sunrise and Set in Tucson


Good morning Tucson! If you are looking for a mind-blowing place to elope, I’m about to fill your eyes with wonder! Get ready for awe-inspiring landscapes! Some of the best hiking trails are done at sunrise or sunset – AND it’s also the dreamiest time to say I DO! Read on to hear about our trip to Tuscan and find some of the best desert elopement ideas and destinations – in Arizona and beyond!

Our Trip to Tucson

George and I woke before sunrise on Christmas morning to a frosty camper van after boondocking for the night. This was our first experience doing this and we were woken by hikers coming in with their headlamps. After making a fresh pot of coffee in our French Press, and instant oats, we were ready to explore Sabino Canyon!

George and I were excited to hike the Catalina Foothills and see the magic that awaited our eyes. It was about 30 degrees when we started our hike in the blue hour (before sunrise). As we meandered through the cactus, the skies quickly turned stormy and the sun disappeared as we made our way into the mountains.

Not having a plan we wandered where our intuition led us which is a wonderful feeling. There had been a lot of rain and high waters we crossed by jumping from rock to rock. I highly recommend having no agenda when you set out, having no expectations, and just enjoying nature.

We received the greatest gift ever when the sun crested the mountains and hit the cactus with its luminous glow against the cactus and contrasting dark, stormy skies. We were giddy with excitement. It rained slightly, but not enough to bother us. Have you ever been in the desert and smelled the rain? It evoked a deep sense of peace, the smell of sweetgrass, a pleasant earthy scent that moved my soul. It felt like home.

As we were making our way to Seven Falls, our hunger got the best of us so we decided to return and visit another day. We wandered into town and enjoyed authentic Chinese food for lunch, the ultimate treat on Christmas Day! And then we headed back to our Boho campervan for the night!

1. Elopement Destination: Catalina Foothills

Nestled against the backdrop of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains is the Catalina Foothills. Standing as a picturesque haven for couples seeking an intimate and enchanting elopement destination. This Arizona gem boasts a unique blend of natural beauty and Southwestern charm! Perfect for a Western-style elopement!

Scenic Splendor. Imagine exchanging vows with panoramic views of the rugged Catalina Mountains stretching across the horizon. The dramatic landscapes and vibrant desert flora create a stunning tapestry for your elopement. This provides a breathtaking and romantic setting that will be etched in your memories forever.

Places to Stay in Tucson. Convenience meets perfection in Catalina Foothills. My favorite boutique place to stay is The JTH near Saguaruo National Forest. Or stay at a true guest ranch, Rancho do la Osa right in Tucson. With a range of accommodation options and easy accessibility, couples can seamlessly transition from the serenity of their elopement location to the comfort of their chosen retreat. This will ensure a stress-free and memorable experience, AND the best of both worlds!

Desert Charm. The charm of the desert comes alive in Catalina Foothills – from the iconic saguaro cacti to the warm hues of the sun setting over the rugged terrain. Embrace the unique ambiance of the Southwest as you immerse yourselves in the rich colors and textures that make this location unique.

Secluded Elegance. Catalina Foothills offers a sense of seclusion and intimacy, providing couples with the privacy to declare their love in a space surrounded by the tranquility of nature. Whether you choose a rocky outcrop or a hidden desert trail, each location within Catalina Foothills exudes an air of secluded elegance, ensuring your elopement is a truly private affair.

Choose Catalina Foothills as your elopement destination, and let the magic of this Southwestern oasis become the canvas for the beginning of your lifelong journey together.

Exploring the local State Park in Tucson

Later that day, we made our way to Catalina State Park and went for a sunset hike. It was our goal to go, see, and do in the great outdoors. Exploring the Tucson trails was such a memorable way to enjoy Christmas. We value experiences over things and these memories will last a lifetime. From one moment to the next, the clouds left us in awe. We must have hugged each other a million times and smiled so big, our eyes were grinning.

Moving our bodies and being grateful for the gift of health and togetherness is something we don’t take lightly. Having this year-end trip to take together was not just about exploration, but a time to reconnect as a couple and get back to what’s important, time together. Time is a gift and making the best of it is a goal for us. Remembering the love we have for one another and our common interests was so replenishing.

I highly recommend a couples trip together. Whether you are eloping, want to recommit to one another, or just because you cherish nature. Take the time to make memories in the great outdoors whenever you can.

2. Elopement Destination: Seven Falls

Embark on a romantic escapade to Seven Falls, a hidden gem nestled within the heart of Tucson’s Sabino Canyon. This enchanting destination promises a magical setting for couples seeking a waterfall-filled backdrop to exchange vows and declare their everlasting love.

Waterfall Wonderland. Seven Falls is a nature lover’s dream, offering a cascading symphony of seven stunning waterfalls surrounded by lush greenery. Picture saying “I do” against the soothing sounds of rushing water, creating an ambiance of serenity that elevates the romance of your special day.

Tranquil Oasis. Escape to the tranquility of Seven Falls, where the serene pools at the base of each waterfall provide a secluded oasis for your intimate elopement. Feel the cool mist against your skin as you share your vows in a setting that feels like a private sanctuary.

Adventure Awaits. For couples with a love for adventure, Seven Falls offers a scenic journey to reach its secluded location. Whether you opt for a hike or a guided tram ride through Sabino Canyon, the anticipation and excitement of the journey add an extra layer of thrill to your elopement experience.

Sunset Romance. As the golden hour approaches, Seven Falls transforms into a canvas of warm hues, casting a magical glow over the landscape. Exchange your vows as the sun sets, creating a backdrop of unparalleled romanticism that will be forever etched in your hearts and in the stunning photographs captured.

Elope to Seven Falls for a romantic adventure surrounded by nature’s wonders. Let the harmony of waterfalls and the embrace of nature be the witnesses to your love story, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

3. Elopement Destination: Catalina State Park

Discover the untamed beauty of the desert at Catalina State Park. An idyllic elopement destination that seamlessly blends rugged landscapes with breathtaking views. For couples seeking a nature-infused ceremony amidst the tranquility of the Arizona desert, Catalina State Park is an unparalleled choice.

Desert Oasis. Catalina State Park offers a captivating blend of Sonoran Desert scenery, showcasing iconic cacti, lush desert vegetation, and rugged mountainous terrain. Choose your ceremony spot against the backdrop of the Catalina Mountains or opt for a serene desert wash!

Flexible Venues. With a variety of scenic locations within the park, couples can tailor their elopement experience to suit their preferences. Whether you envision an intimate ceremony beside a babbling creek, on a hill overlooking the desert, or beneath the shade of ancient mesquite trees. Catalina State Park provides a range of options to make your elopement INCREDIBLE!

Trails of Love. There are plenty of lovely hiking trails around the area, leading to secluded spots that offer panoramic views and a sense of intimacy. Choose to exchange vows on a trailhead, surrounded by the raw beauty of the desert. OR find a hidden alcove that provides a private sanctuary for your special moment.

Sunset Serenade. As the sun begins its descent, Catalina State Park transforms into a canvas of warm colors. Experience the magic of a sunset ceremony, where the sky is painted magical hues, creating a romantic atmosphere that complements the natural beauty.

More hiking Trails around Tucson to Explore

Remember I said we love to hike and explore? Well, George and I went back to Sabino Canyon to see another sunrise. And then tried to make our way to Seven Falls through Bear Creek Canyon. That week we received more rain and snow! It was such a beautiful sight to see snow-capped mountains! The weather changes in the blink of an eye. Witnessing the light and clouds roll through Arizona was heavenly. It’s such a gift to see the big open sky for miles.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it to Seven Falls because the streams were flooded and we couldn’t find a safe path to cross. If it wasn’t winter, I wouldn’t mind getting my feet wet. Even with waterproof boots, having wet feet in the winter isn’t the way to go. We’ll be back in Tucson!

If you’d like to adventure with me in the great outdoors, I’d love to help plan your wild elopement, scout trails, chase the light and capture your love story. Drop into my e-mail, I’d love to hear from you!

Here’s a list of the top trails to hike in and around Tucson:

  1. Bear Canyon to Seven Falls
  2. Finger Rock Trail
  3. Ventana Canyon Trail
  4. Tanque Verde Falls
  5. Signal Hill Trails
  6. Wassan Peak
  7. King Canyon Trail
  8. Douglas Spring Trail
  9. Desert Ecology Trail
  10. Cactus Forest Trail

Elopement Destination 4: Sabino Canyon

Journey into the heart of nature’s masterpiece with Sabino Canyon, an exquisite elopement destination in Tuscan, AZ. For couples yearning for a western wedding in the wonders of the Sonoran Desert, Sabino Canyon offers an unparalleled sanctuary!!

Nature’s Grandeur. Sabino Canyon enchants with its natural grandeur, featuring towering saguaro cacti, vibrant wildflowers, and the soothing flow of Sabino Creek. Choose a ceremony site along the creek’s edge or on one of the awesome bridges, letting nature’s beauty set the stage for your private ceremony

Scenic Serenity. The serenity of Sabino Canyon provides a tranquil backdrop for your elopement, offering a sense of peace and seclusion. Share your vows amidst the gentle rustle of leaves, the sweet chirping of birds, and the calming sound of flowing water, creating a moment of pure connection with your partner.

Picturesque Hiking Trails. Embark on a romantic hike through the myriad trails that wind through Sabino Canyon. Discover secluded spots with panoramic vistas, creating an intimate setting for your ceremony surrounded by the raw beauty of the desert. Let the journey to your chosen spot be as memorable as the destination itself. Remember as your desert elopement photographer I’m here to help you choose!

Sunrise Trail:

Sabino Walkway Loop – If you’re seeking a serene morning surrounded by glowing golden cacti, head to the Sabino Walkway loop in Tucson, AZ. Aim to arrive before sunrise to experience the enchanting moment when the first light of day illuminates the cacti, casting a magical, luminous glow over the desert landscape. This easy walk is perfect for enjoying the peaceful beauty of dawn in the desert.

Espero, Rattlesnake Phoneline Trail Loop – offers a breathtaking sunrise experience, where the early light dramatically illuminates the cacti and mountains, enhancing the beauty of the desert. Be prepared for high water crossings along the trail; it’s advisable to wear waterproof boots or water shoes to navigate these areas comfortably and safely. This trail is a fantastic choice for those looking to immerse themselves in the vibrant early morning desert landscape.

5. Elopement Destination:  Gates Pass

Heading west of Tucson, you’ll hit Gates Pass, a killer spot right on the way to West Saguaro National Park. It’s perched way up there, giving you a wicked view of the desert below. There are a bunch of spots to pull over and two awesome lookout points perfect for catching the sunset. Imagine this: Tucson’s iconic cacti against a huge sky, all lit up in the day’s last golden light. Seriously, it’s like something straight out of a painting.

Western Desert Elopement

Embarking on a Western desert elopement promises an adventure filled with rugged landscapes, timeless charm, and the enchantment of the Southwest. Here are some tips to ensure your celebration is as magical as the desert itself:

1. Opt for Winter Months: Escape the scorching heat of the summer and consider eloping during the winter months. The cooler temperatures create a comfortable environment for your ceremony, allowing you to fully enjoy the breathtaking scenery without the intensity of the desert sun! Us folks in the Northeastern US know how amazing it can be to escape a perpetual winter and head to the warmer coast!

2. Embrace the Western Style: Infuse your elopement with the spirit of the West by incorporating Western-inspired elements into your attire and decor. Think cowboy boots, rustic floral arrangements, and maybeee even donning a stylish cowboy hat. Embracing Western style adds a touch of authenticity to your desert celebration. And goes sooo well with some Super 8 Film footage if that’s your vibe! Check out this Western Cowboy Styled Elopement!

3. Choose the Right Time of Day: Capture the desert’s mesmerizing beauty by planning your elopement during the golden hours – sunrise or sunset. The soft, warm hues of the desert landscape during these times create a magical atmosphere, casting a romantic glow over your ceremony and photographs. If a summer elopement is your preference, plan your ceremony during the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the peak heat of midday.

By following these tips, your Western desert elopement can become an unforgettable journey through the timeless and awe-inspiring landscapes of the Southwest. Embrace the spirit of the West and let the desert be the stunning backdrop to your love story. Check out these 5 Dreamy Destination Desert Ideas for your Elopement!

Tucson, Arizona Desert Elopement Photographer

Are you ready to embark on a unique and adventurous elopement experience out west? Consider desert elopements or winter destination elopements to escape the cold. Picture this: cowboy nostalgia meets the captivating beauty of the desert setting; the stage for your love story. Let’s curate an unforgettable elopement experience in Tucson, AZ, and beyond! Immerse yourself in the magic of the Western spirit and create lasting memories captured in digital, film, and Super 8 with yours truly! Your love deserves a backdrop as stunning as your story. Embrace the enchantment of the desert for a truly stylish and adventurous elopement.

Contact me now to get started on planning your dream desert elopement!

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