Asarco Mine Tour

Mission

Learn how copper ore is mined during the Alumafiesta tour of the Mission Copper Mine, operated by Asarco.

The Asarco mine is busy 24/7 and occupies 20,000 acres of private, State leased, and Indian land where, annually, 260,000 tons of mineral concentrates are processed (which become 132,700,000 pounds of copper and 1,234,000 ounces of silver).

The mine is a quarter-mile deep, two miles from north to south, and a mile-and-three-quarters from east to west. “About six times the amount of earth moved to dig the Panama Canal has been mined there,” states the website.

You’ll watch trucks and shovels working the mine from the viewpoint on the south rim and see the mega-sized milling operation where copper ore is ground into a powder so the minerals can be separated by froth flotation. (What now? Not to worry—this and other mill processes be explained by friendly AMDC staff members on hand to answer all your questions.)

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Arizona State Museum

While you’re in Tucson for Alumafiesta you’ll have the opportunity to tour the wonderful Arizona State Museum. Located on the University of Arizona campus, the state museum is the largest (and oldest) of its kind in the Southwest and is the hub of southwest anthropology research and preservation.

The collections (and the renowned museum experts) are “among the world’s most significant resources for the study of southwestern cultures,” states their website.

The museum is home to the world’s largest collection of whole Southwest Indian pottery, and the collection of Native American basketry is vast, as well: more than 25,000+ rare woven items that include outstanding examples of rare and impressive baskets, sandals, mats, and more.

Some of the nation’s earliest and most rare examples of Navajo textiles are there, too—including one of the largest Navajo rugs ever woven.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg…er, saguaro. More than three million objects are held in the museum, including thousands and thousands of archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, photographs, rare books, maps, and even sound recordings. And Mexican folk masks. And vertebrate skeletons. What’s NOT in this museum?

Don’t worry, a tour guide will break it all down for you. Alumafiesta attendees will be treated to an exclusive curator tour with access to the conservation lab, pottery vault, and basket vault. In addition, you’ll meet the archaeologists, and a museum expert will lead a fascinating one-hour tour of the Paths of Life exhibit.

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Alumafiesta outing: petroglyph hike!

Saguaro National Park is named for (and home to) the nation’s largest cactus: Carnegiea gigantea, called the saguaro (pronounced suh-wahr-oh) in Spanish.

You know the saguaro, universal meme of the Southwest: the tree-like cactus of the Roadrunner cartoons that stands like a giant (growing up to 70 feet tall) with arms upstretched to the sun. Native to the Sonoran Desert, the saguaro’s blossom is Arizona’s state wildflower.

No doubt about it, the scenic Sonoran Desert is a magical place, and you’ll have a chance to explore it with your fellow Airstreamers during Alumafiesta.

Saguaro National Park is also home to a fascinating form of manmade rock art: petroglyphs, created by the prehistoric Hohokam people more than a thousand years ago.

The petroglyphs you’ll see on the Signal Hill Petroglyphs Trail were likely made during hunting and gathering expeditions, though no one is quite sure about the meaning of these ancient messages pecked into the rocky hilltop. Are they astronomical markers? Religious, or ceremonial symbols? Simply decoration? Explorer’s maps? Bygone graffiti? Shopping lists? It’s fun (and awe-inspiring) to view them and imagine what the ancient artists had in mind.

So, sign up at the Alumafiesta welcome table in the main tent for the Saguaro West Petroglyph Hike, a short, steep, half-mile climb to see dozens of these striking carvings. The petroglyph trail is rough and uneven in places, with rock steps—be sure to bring your hiking boots or other sturdy shoes to Tucson!

Other recreational outings will be on the program, too, so pack in general for outdoor adventure: footwear, sunscreen, hat, etcetera.

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The Mini Time Machine

Mini time museumBe transported to a teeny tiny world like you’ve never seen before during an offisite tour to this offbeat museum during Alumafiesta.

Whether you’re a fan of “doll houses” or not, you’ll be stunned by the immense detail and intricate artistry of the antique and contemporary models and objects at the remarkable Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures in Tucson.

You’ll feel like Gulliver among the Lilliputians as you move through the interactive displays that depict varying themes and historical eras. The permanent collection contains over 275 miniature houses and room boxes (including one of the oldest miniature houses in the country, built in 1775); examples of miniatures used in cultures around the world; minute, fully-functioning tools; and a real—as in, a musician could actually play it—ultra-miniature violin.

“My husband and I spent hours in awe of the meticulous craftsmanship of the tiny replicas of everyday life across many time periods,” writes an online reviewer. “It was amazing. The level of detail is mind-blowing.”

Learn “how miniatures are used in society, and their importance to our future” through this informative video. “Art comes in all shapes and sizes,” the narrator states, “and some of the most highly regarded forms of art are smaller in scale.”

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