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In a sprawling desert region like Tucson, "Off the beaten path" means a lot of things. Jump on Interstate Route 10 and head east for an hour or two, and you will come across some memorable attractions. One is "The Thing," an oddball museum off I-10 whose signs dot the highway almost everywhere between Tucson and El Paso.
Hikers will want to continue driving to Chiricahua National Monument, which is further east on I-10, and about 1/2 hour south of the town of Willcox, 120 miles from Tucson. This area is filled with seemingly endless rock spires and strange rock formations. The best hike is an approximately eight mile loop through the heart of the rock formations and higher up into the park. Despite the beauty of this area, you may only find a handful of other hikers in the entire park. The national monument is at a higher elevation than Tucson, so you will find a welcome break from oppressive summer time heat there - but bring plenty of water because the climate is still largely desert. This rugged region is where the Apaches made their last stand against the U.S. Army and does not boast very many tourist services or lodging options. Back country camping is available, but otherwise, chances are you'll be heading back towards Tucson at the end of the day.
An even more remote natural attraction in the Tucson area is Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, about 2.5-3 hours Southwest of Tucson. Go to this park prepared, it is very beautiful but it can get very hot there - bring plenty of water and keep an eye out for desert critters like snakes and scorpions, especially if camping. Organ Pipe has water and rest rooms for campers and visitors. People less inclined to the remote outdoors will find fairly similar scenery at Saguaro National Park, mere minutes outside of Tucson. There are units of Saguaro National Park on both the east and west sides fo Tucson.