Tumamoc Hill to reopen Memorial Day

Tumamoc Hill to reopen Memorial Day
Tumamoc Hill is a popular destination for southern Arizona hikers.

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Tumamoc Hill will reopen to the public on May 25 with new protocols that require face masks and at least six feet of physical distance between visitors.

The popular hiking spot on Tucson’s west side will reopen with its normal hours, 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., with preferential walking hours of 6 to 8 a.m. for people who are at increased risk for the virus, including those over age 65 and people who have preexisting health conditions.

“The steps we are taking aim to provide our community with needed exercise, connection to our beautiful desert and a sense of comfort in such a trying time, while balancing the fact that gathering as a community endangers each of us and our loved ones. This is an unprecedented challenge that we are taking extremely seriously,” said Benjamin T. Wilder, director of Tumamoc Hill.

New arrows along the path, spaced 10 feet apart, will offer benchmarks to help people maintain physical distancing and direct the flow of foot traffic up and down the hill. Other markers near the gate at the bottom of the hill will mitigate congregating groups.

Signs on the hill will remind visitors of the new protocols. In addition to masks and physical distancing, visitors will also be asked to limit group sizes to three people, use hand-sanitizing stations along the path and not touch the gate at the top of the hill – a tradition for many upon reaching the top.

"This is a time when we need to establish new traditions and adapt in a creative manner that embraces empathy, unity, care and patience," Wilder said. "One such example is the Desert Laboratory is partnering with Cream Design and Print, a Tucson-based print company, to design a special series of Tumamoc-themed masks that are exercise-friendly and will be available for order at the time the hill reopens. Portions of the proceeds will support the community outreach efforts of the lab."

Tumamoc Hill is owned and maintained by the University of Arizona, which also operates the Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill.

Arizona's statewide stay-at-home order is set to expire on Friday. Tumamoc's Memorial Day opening date allows university leadership and local health experts to implement the new protocols and consider other measures for reopening safely.

"If proper precautions are taken, the Tumamoc community has the opportunity to lead in responsible reopening," Wilder said. "Together, we will find our way through this challenge, anchored by core pillars of Tumamoc Hill: culture, community and science."

The hill closed to the public on March 18 as a safety precaution amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and community members are asked to respect the closure until the May 25 reopening.

For more information and the latest updates, visit the Tumamoc Hill website or Instagram.

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