The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the wellbeing of local people.” The Cat Mountain Lodge in Tucson offers ecotourists every benefit of this definition.
Before owner Kerstin Block and her late husband Spencer purchased the property in the 1990s, the location of the current bed and breakfast was rundown and overrun with crime. Already residents in the village at the edge of the city near the Tucson Mountains, the Blocks used the success of their popular reuse clothing store Buffalo Exchange to purchase the land and build Cat Mountain Station: Lodge, Cafe and Trading Post.
Cat Mountain Lodge looks up at Cerro del Gato (Cat Mountain). The mountain sits at the southeast end of the Tucson Mountain range with a prominence of 1,062 feet. Hikers, bikers, equestrians and nature seekers enjoy the biodiversity of the many trails on and around the mountain. Movie buffs will recognize it from many period westerns that were filmed at nearby Old Tucson Studios.
Being close to the studios and other Tucson attractions like Saguaro National Park and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum makes the bed and breakfast a great travel destination. Yet, it feels like a true escape from the city. “I want every guest to feel comfortable and welcome,” says Block.
When the lodge was constructed, the Blocks incorporated several eco-friendly features. First, the building that houses the five suites is built from rastra block. This block has enhanced insulation properties, keeping the rooms cooler and reducing the need for heating and air conditioning. Passive and active harvesting of the desert’s most precious resource – water – are used throughout the property. Chemical-free toiletries are provided for guest use and for the protection of the native habitat. Power is generated by solar roof panels, and solar lighting is used throughout the landscape.
For all of its sustainable features, it’s likely that the lodge’s number one preserved resource is the Sonoran desert itself. The stunning terrain is alive with indigenous plant life, which can be experienced by a walk through the meditation maze or a hike along several surrounding trails. All of the suites open to a traditional courtyard featuring beautiful desert flora and
a pollinator habitat that is a haven to hummingbirds, bees
and butterflies. Bring your pup! Dog-friendly rooms are
Arizona is rated one of the top astronomy destinations in the world, so to fully appreciate the beauty of Tucson’s night sky, you’ll want to schedule a star tour at Spencer’s Observatory. The lodge is perfectly positioned to view the stars as Cat Mountain blocks most of the city’s light pollution. The observatory has a retractable roof with two high-powered telescopes for guests’ viewing pleasure. Special astrophotography workshops are also available by appointment.
For more information, or to book your ecotravel vacation, visit catmountainlodge.com.
Terri Sinclair is an accredited coach and trainer. She specializes in helping clients step outside their comfort zone to achieve results. develup.biz
Photography by Michael Moriarty
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