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Self-guided water tour of Tucson

Natural oases, pioneering water harvesting, wise water management, and water mismanagement from the past to the present in order to inform and inspire you, and our future.

  • Do you know where your water comes from?
  • Where does it go once it goes down a drain or runs off your site?
  • What would happen if we retained, rather than drained the rain and other free on-site waters?
  • And how much would we save and learn if we distributed water with the free power of gravity, rather than energy-intensive pumps?

Most people don’t know. This tour strives to change that for the residents and visitors of Tucson that venture in.

This self-guided tour strives to deepen your understanding of place, local challenges, and the potential to more consciously contribute to greater hydrological and community health. These sites have all done so, and continue to do so, for me.

As you tour these sites, ask yourself and others what aspects are working, and which are not. Then ask why that is, and how things might be tweaked, and how the working aspects might inform solutions for the aspects that aren’t working.

Visit these sites (especially the water-harvesting ones) again and again over years (especially great to do this during and just after a good water flow) to better see how the water-harvesting strategies are affecting the flow of water and sediment, and how the flow is affecting the strategies, and how things change over time and why.

If virtually touring these sites, use/click on the Google Maps Satellite view option, rather than the Map view (see upper left corner of map), since the satellite view enables you to see more of the natural land form and vegetation — more of the living aspects.

Click on the various site location links below the map for each site’s story, photos, and more.

If you want to visit sites in person, read the Where sections at the bottom of each location link below to see if it is an open site, if it is a private site for which you need to arrange a tour, or it is closed to the public and must be viewed from off location.
Then click the SAVE button beside the link of the locations you want to visit, and a custom map will be generated for you based on your preferred mode of transport (by foot, by bicycle, or by car).
If you want to delete any sites from you list, just hit the SAVE button again to UNsave it.


When physically touring the natural sites over time, look for how they respond and recover to disturbances like floods, drought, extreme cold, fire, etc; and which plants and animals don’t just survive, but thrive in specific microclimates and settings. This helps you better understand these ecologies and design in such recovery and thrival potential when designing for the built environment at home and throughout our community.

Keep checking back. This is just the beginning. More sites will be periodically added to the tour.

Tucson Basin watershed maps

Search which waterhood (neighborhood watershed) you reside in:

For more virtual tours see my blog, and the image galleries and videos on my media page.