From Oracle Junction north of Tucson to Florence, this 42-mile section of historic US 89 (now AZ 79) is known as the Pinal Pioneer Parkway. Crossing the high Sonoran desert, the road is lined with ancient many-armed saguaro cactus and forests of chain fruit cholla. Black Mountain dominates the view to the east and in the distance are the the Tortilla Mountains. To the south, the peaks of the Santa Catalina Mountains rise to over 9000 feet. While the drive is enjoyable in all seasons, summer temperatures can be quite hot. Be sure to bring plenty of drinking water along. Spring and fall are the best times for this drive when wildflowers and cactuses are in bloom. At the mid-point of the drive is a memorial to the cowboy actor, Tom Mix, who died in a car crash nearby in 1940. Historically, the Pinal Pioneer Parkway was part of the main road linking Phoenix and Tucson, so driving the road today gives the motorist a small taste of what that journey was like before the era of Interstate highways.
See the Nogales to Tucson Road Trip Guide for more points of interest on this section of US Route 89.