TUCSON, ARIZONA, U.S.A. This is a view of Saguaro West National Park in the Tucson Mountains west of the city of Tucson, and only a few minutes drive from my current residence. Although I have not lived here my whole life, it is amazing how quickly I have come to call this place home.

The valley that currently holds the city of Tucson is one of the oldest continually inhabited places in North America, with Native American settlement dating back to 2100 BC. It has been home to Apache and Pima Indians, and was a part of the Spanish Empire and Mexico before eventually falling under US control following the Gadsden Purchase 1854. The city’s unique culture represents a vibrant mix of all these past and current inhabitants.

Tucson is surrounded on all sides by mountain ranges: the Santa Catalina Mountains to the north, Tucson Mountains to the west, Santa Rita Mountains to the south, and Rincon Mountains to the east. The two national parks and national forests they contain provide endless opportunities for outdoor activities, ranging from hiking the Arizona Trail to skiing in America’s southernmost ski resort.

The city of Tucson and its metropolitan area include slightly over one million residents, including students and researchers at the University of Arizona and “snow birds” flocking in from colder climates during the winter months. Whether you are looking scream your lungs out at an Arizona Wildcats basketball game, enjoy some of the best Mexican food of your life, star gaze during some of the clearest nights on planet earth, or soak up our 350 days of sunshine on the hiking trail, golf course, or by the pool, you can’t do much better than southern Arizona.

Tucson, Arizona is my backyard. And what a great backyard it is.

For more information, see the Official Tourism Website.

— Nick Beaudoin