Whether you choose to splash around at the Heritage River Park Splash Pad, or catch a movie in the relaxing chill of a comfy theater, summer heat doesn’t spell the end of summer fun. To keep us going through these steamy months, let’s take a few moments to check out some #IceCold facts about Marana, Arizona
Archaeological Site Las Capas Reveals Ancient Agricultural Roots of Marana
Beginning in 1998, archaeologists started digging downstream of the confluence of two major tributaries of the Santa Cruz River. As one of the last remaining perennial streams in Southern Arizona, this river represents an important habitat for migrating birds and freshwater fish. When researchers began delving into this region’s past, they discovered thousands of artifacts dating as far back as 1250 B.C. Of particular interest is a network of canals revealing extensive technological advancement thousands of years prior to the arrival of European settlers. At one time, historians attributed the expansion of agriculture across the southwest to European irrigation techniques, but sites like Las Capas prove that these methods long pre-date Spanish settlement in the region.
Perhaps the best way to see the Las Capas site for yourself is to hop on your bicycle and head down to the Loop between Ina and Orange Grove. As you pedal along the banks of the Santa Cruz, don’t be disappointed when you can’t find an Indiana Jones hat bobbing in the distance. This entire area is the archaeological site, and any excavation of this desert mud will reveal layers (or, en Español, capas) of history stacked on top of each other. It’s best to let the earth lie, though, and leave the digging to the experts. For us, it’s enough just to imagine the generations of desert rats who have eked out a living from the waters of the Santa Cruz.
The Best Hotel in the State—yes, all of Arizona—Calls Marana Home
If you’re not from around here, you might assume that the top hotel in Arizona would be clinging to the steep cliffs of the Grand Canyon or hidden in an exclusive hideaway in Scottsdale. Not so! The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain has earned top honors from Forbes as the only Five-Star, Five-Diamond resort in all of Arizona. Perhaps its relative obscurity is part of its mystique. Nestled into the Tortolita Mountains, the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain offers every amenity of an all-inclusive resort—full-service spa, fine dining, world-class golf, three luxurious pools—and yet when you’re there, the hotel’s most outstanding feature is the surrounding landscape. Tall saguaros, wind-carved boulders, and spectacular sunsets await visitors to this magnificent resort. This getaway may not enjoy the same notoriety as its more famous peers, and for many guests, that’s exactly how they want it.
Beautiful Landscapes of National Repute Encircle Marana
Not one, not two, but three nationally recognized outdoor spaces are within easy access of Marana. Saguaro National Park, along Marana’s southwestern border, is home to one of the largest stands of giant saguaros in the world. Also calling this beautiful park home is a variety of desert fauna, including coatimundi, mountain lions, and javelinas.
In northern Marana, the Tortolita Mountains rise from the desert floor and offer some of the most incredible hiking and mountain biking trails in the entire Southwest. Part of the reason these trails rate so highly among experienced hikers and cyclists is the meticulous care Marana Parks and Recreation puts into them. Two dedicated trail crew workers attend to these paths year-round, ensuring that creeping branches and painful thorns are kept at bay.
Finally, in the distance west, hiding in the remote Silver Bell Mountains is Ironwood Forest National Monument. Named for one of the longest living trees in the desert, this sprawling 129,000 acre wilderness beckons backpackers with an eye toward experiencing something few others ever will. These isolated mountains have very few paved roads, and even fewer amenities, like running water. If you’re planning to venture into their depths, come prepared for an unforgettable experience, and bring plenty of water. Oh yeah, and even though we’re publishing this in July, you might want to wait until November before you hit these trails.
Marana history is all about the water
Arizona history is really a history of water—about those who have and those who want it. In 1977, a small group of farmers north of Tucson grew worried about their own water supply. The growing metropolis to the south just kept growing, and these farmers foresaw that soon, the water they relied on to irrigate their crops might soon evaporate. As a result, they incorporated into a small Town of just a few hundred acres and named it after the Spanish term for the thick desert brush that stretched as far as the eye could see—“Maraña.” By forming a municipality, these farmers guaranteed certain water rights that they couldn’t have secured alone.
Nearly forty years later, Marana has grown exponentially, far beyond even the loftiest expectations of those early founders. Water, however, is still what determines growth. According to Arizona State law, any new development within an Active Management Area (all of Marana is in such an area) must demonstrate an assured water supply for at least 100 years prior to construction. That water supply must consider current and committed demand, as well as growth projections. While some of that water may come from the ground, depth limitations apply, so if the water table drops below a certain point, developers can’t simply plan to deepen the well. That water must come from elsewhere. Regulations like this one ensure that growth in this arid corner of Arizona is well-managed, thoughtful, and sustainable. Marana is a growing community in no small part due to the beautiful landscapes across the Town, but wanton water consumption could destroy that defining quality. By proactively managing its growth, Marana is ensuring that residents and visitors can enjoy the Gateway to Southern Arizona now and for many years to come.
Even in the scorching summer months, Marana is still a pretty cool place. When a monsoon rolls through, we learn to enjoy the dropping temperatures that come with the torrential rains. Visitors to Marana have a lot to discover in this desert playground. There’s a whole lot of history here and a million ways to see it. Discover Cool Facts when you Discover Marana.