Tucson Mountain Park: Gates Pass Road & Overlook – Tucson AZ


Tucson Mountain Park, created in 1929, was opened to general recreation use in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), working with the Pima County parks agency.  The northern half of the original park was added to the Saguaro National Monument in 1961, which became a national park in 1994, and this portion of the park was renamed Saguaro National Park – Tucson Mountain District (TMD). (See also Saguaro NP (TMD) project pages)

The CCC ‘boys’ set up Camp Pima, SP6A, in December 1933 at the northwest corner of what was is now Saguaro NP.  Working from there, they carried out extensive land restoration by building check dams, cattle guards and fences, obliterating mining scars, and reseeding areas with natural grasses.  They constructed the Gates Pass and other roads, recreation facilities like picnic areas and trails, and the first buildings at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  

The Gates Pass road made Tucson Mountain Park accessible to the general public and is today the main access road into the park from the city of Tucson to the east.  The view from the top of the pass towards the west is striking, so the CCC built an elegant stone overlook with a compass rose on the floor.  They added a parking lot and restroom, a small stone building up the hillside and a platform of uncertain purpose.  

Apparently, the CCC workers also built a stone amphitheater, but we were unable to document that.




Source notes

Audretsch, Robert and Sharon Hunt, 2014. The Civilian Conservation Corps in Arizona. Charleston SC: Arcadia Publishing. 

"The New Deal in Arizona: Connections to Our Historic Landscape," University of Arizona by The New Deal in Arizona Chapter of the National New Deal Preservation Association. https://content.library.arizona.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/NewDeal/id/193


Project originally submitted by Joan Greer on November 23, 2019.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Tucson Mountain Park
Tucson, AZ 85735

Coordinates: 32.223, -111.144

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