Riding up Arizona Highway 386, a twisty mountain road that takes you up Kitt Peak, a mountain just west of Tucson, AZ, I felt a sense of isolation and spirituality.
Located inside the the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, it’s a short 12 miles of easy to moderate turns that gains 3,600 feet in elevation to a height of 6,800 at the peak.
At the peak lies the Kitt Peak National Observatory that holds the world’s largest collection of research telescopes. There are guided tours and self-guided tours you can take. There’s a visitor center with photos and souvenirs.
The best part of Kitt Peak, however, is the view at the top, overlooking the indian reservation. You’ll find a nice little turnout just before reaching the parking lot.
Gusts of thermals swoosh up the mountain, carrying with them the spirits of natives who once lived on this land. I stretched out my arms, hoping to cleanse myself with their energies. If anything, just standing here makes one feel alive.
I could imagine hundreds of years ago, the people below climbing the peak, to gain a good sense of their surroundings and keep a watch out for visitors. Today, the same thing is going on, except this time eyes are pointed up into space.
Arizona Highway 386 itself is filled with tar snakes, some of which made my sport touring tires slip in a few places. It was enough to keep me at a slower pace, not wanting to test their limits. Supposedly, the State of Arizona bought the road from the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation back in 1986 with the intent of improving the road, but they still haven’t done so.
If you choose to ride up Kitt Peak, I suggest bringing food and drink with you, because there’s isn’t much to be had at the visitors center.