Tucson is carved into sections by 2 rivers, the Rillito and the Santa Cruz; plus Pantano Wash. Locals have told me that as recently as 35-40 years ago, the Rillito and Santa Cruz had water year-round. Then the growing population sucked them dry, just as it is drying up the nearby San Pedro River now.
As of 24 years ago, if memory serves me, the Santa Cruz (and probably the Rillito – I didn’t live near it) held water during much of the monsoon season – from a tiny damp trickle in the morning, to a churning current with the afternoon storms. There still WERE frequent afternoon storms. By 10 years ago, the rivers were bone dry for weeks (or months, as the drought worsened) at a time. Then the sky would open, dumping so much rain they would run bank to bank, sometimes flooding over the bridges. I’d stand on a bridge, gaping in awe, til the water practically lapped at my feet. Woohoo!
I can’t recall a time in the last 6-7 years when the rivers have run that high. They have been bank-to-bank only a few scant
times. But we’re having a pretty good monsoon season this year, compared to recent summers. Not the daily short bursts of yore, but a lot of nice, soaking t-storms. Enough to green things up and carry the desert over to next year.
Which means those of us who board our equines along the river have the good fortune of ever-changing trails and water to play in. The tradeoff being, we must remain vigilant.
This is the route Walter and I take, access via the multi-use path to the riverbed: