With desert mountain ranges encircling the city, Tucson is a great place for a rugged off-road adventure. To explore some rugged sections of the Sonoran Desert, contact Black Diamond Hummer Tours (tel. 520/907-1061; www.bdhummertours.com). Owner Dolores Zimmerman is a former NASCAR stock-car racer, and she loves to show off both the desert and the capabilities of her company's Hummers.

If you're more interested in the history of Tucson, join a walking tour of the Old Pueblo. Between late October and mid-April, the Arizona Historical Society (tel. 520/770-1473; www.arizonahistoricalsociety.org/education) offers a variety of 2-hour tours around some of the city's historic districts. Tours begin at the Arizona Historical Society Downtown History Museum and cost $10 for adults (children 10 and under are free). Tours of downtown Tucson are also offered several times each week by local historian Ken Scoville of Old Pueblo Walking tours (tel. 520/358-850), who charges $15 per person for his tours.

For a look at a completely different sort of excavation, head 15 miles south of Tucson to the ASARCO Mineral Discovery Center, 1421 W. Pima Mine Rd., Sahuarita (tel. 520/625-7513; www.mineraldiscovery.com), where you can tour a huge open-pit copper mine and learn about copper mining past and present. The center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm; admission is free. The 1-hour mine tours are offered four times a day (call for summer days and hours). These tours cost $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $5 for children 5 to 12. To get here, drive south from Tucson on I-19 and take exit 80. You might want to combine this tour with a visit to the nearby Titan Missile Museum.

Learning Expeditions, a program run by the Arizona State Museum, occasionally offers scholar-led archaeological tours. For information, contact the marketing department at the museum (tel. 520/626-8381; www.statemuseum.arizona.edu).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.