Historic Anza Trail was the route traveled by Tubac Presidio captain Juan Bautista de Anza II in his campaign to establish what was to become the city of San Francisco in 1775-76. Tubac was the official starting point of the expedition, although the explorers actually began the trek from Old Mexico. Today the old overland route is a National Historic Trail, and part of it winds its way through the beautiful Santa Cruz River Valley, from Rio Rico to Tumacacori National Historical Park to Tubac Presidio State Historic Park and beyond, with trailheads at Rio Rico Drive, Tumacacori, Tubac and Rancho Sahuarita. The trail is open to equestrians but off limits to mountain bikes and ATVs.
*ASARCO MINERAL DISCOVERY CENTER*
Just north of Green Valley—off Pima Mine Road—the ASARCO Mineral Discovery Center offers visitors a chance to tour a large, open pit copper mine. There is also a museum featuring huge ore-hauling trucks, and a gift shop with lots of beautiful southwestern craft pieces made of copper. The center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9-5. There is a charge for the mine tour. For more information call 520-625-7513.
*ARIZONA SONORAN DESERT MUSEUM*
To call this a zoo would be remiss and to call this a museum would be an equally inaccurate description. This is one of the most unique displays of animals, native vegetation and mineral elements anywhere and virtually recreates the Sonoran landscape. By combining elements of a zoo, botanical garden and a museum they have created a destination enjoyed repeatedly by adults and children. You can see over 300 species of animals and more than 1,200 kinds of plants all in a two mile stroll through the 21 acre grounds. Located a short distance west of Tucson. They are open March – September 7:30 am – 5:00 pm (no entry after 4:15 pm), October – February 8:30 am – 5:00 pm (no entry after 4:15 pm), Summer Saturday Evenings Open until 10:00 pm (June – August) For more information call (520) 883-2702.
In the early 1900’s, Bisbee had a population of over 20,000 and was considered one of the most cultured cities in the Southwest. That, however, doesn’t mean there were not any rough edges usually found in mining camps. Bisbee had an area called the Brewery Gulch, which boasted 47 saloons and its fair share of shady ladies. However, among the cultural firsts in the state was the community library. There was also an opera house located in Bisbee and the state’s first golf course. Bisbee, like many of the mining towns in AZ, has undergone changes. The population dropped drastically by the mid 1970’s when large scale mining operations proved unprofitable. Today’s population consists of free spirits, many in pursuit of their artistic endeavors. The historic buildings house many interesting businesses including historic hotels, gift shops, galleries, a custom men’s and women’s hat shop, honey vendor, restaurants, etc. You can easily spend a couple of days touring the town and its surrounding area as well as visiting the Copper Queen mine. Unlike many mine tours, this one takes you deep in the mine, donned in rain gear and hard hat and helps you see the plight of the early miners. For more information call (520) 432-5421.
*BUENOS AIRES WILDLIFE REFUGE*
Not far from Arivaca is the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge, a 115,000-acre refuge established to preserve the endangered masked bobwhite quail. The refuge contains extensive grasslands and seasonal streams and a lake. It also is home to 300 species of birds, including hawks, herons, gray hawks, vermilion fly catchers and golden eagles (during migration). Other wildlife includes coyotes, deer, foxes, and pronghorn antelopes. Popular trails are located on the eastern side near the town of Arivaca. The wildlife refuge is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Location: Sasabe Arizona 85633
Located outside of Vail, Arizona at 16721 E. Old Spanish Trail, this dry cave has a history that ranges from the late eighteen hundreds and early nineteenth century when bank robbers hid out there. It is on the National Registry of historical places. For more information call 520-647-7275.
*DESERT DIAMOND CASINO*
Located just off of Interstate 19 and Pima Mine Road, the Desert Diamond Casino—owned and operated by the Tohono O’odham Nation—offers a variety of entertainments, many of them ‘big name’, and fine dining in the Agave Restaurant. For more information call 520-393-2799.
Best call as soon as possible if you would like to visit this living cave as it is an extremely popular visitor spot. Keeping it secret for over 14 years was necessary to put everything into place to prevent its exploitation and possible ruin. Extreme measures have been put into place to prevent the demise of the cavers and because of that, it can remain full of life and growing as it was before discovery. There are two rooms available for tour most of the year (although one room is off limits for a few months as the bats come to raise their young) plus a 23,000 sq ft discovery center. The park is located nine miles south of I-10, off State Hwy 90, exit 302. For reservations, call 520-586-2283.
*KITT PEAK OBSERVATORY*
Kitt Peak houses the largest collection of optical research telescopes anywhere in the world and is home to twenty-four optical and two radio telescopes representing eight astronomical research institutions. It is located on the Tohono O’odham Reservation and has access to some of the best night skies anywhere on earth. It is a great experience to take one of their guided day tours or a self guided walking tour using their comprehensive map and instructions, but nothing matches the opportunity to view the night skies from their telescopes by participating in their Night Observing Programs. Available most of the year, except for monsoon season, this program is enjoyed by over 6,000 people a year. Because this is such a popular program, it is recommended that you call at least 2-4 wks prior to your desired date. If you would like to make this one of your memorable experiences, call 520-318-8726.
For more information visit https://visitkittpeak.org/.
Located just east of Green Valley, in the dramatic Santa Rita Mountains, Madera Canyon is justly famous as a bird watcher’s paradise. This is deemed by many to be birding paradise with over 200 species either living here or traveling through this canyon on migration to nest and fledge their young before continuing on to their final destination. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the canyon attracts some 14 species of hummingbirds among the some 240 avian species that abound in this portion of the Coronado National Forest. You might even see some of the other critters who make this area their home, such as the black bear, wild turkey, deer, bobcat or ring tail cat. There are a number of campgrounds, picnic areas and several nature trails open to public, including the adventurous 10.8-mile round trip hike to Mount Wrightson, elevation 9,453feet. Costs per vehicle are $5 for day use and $10 for campers. You may also purchase a year’s pass to the canyon for $20, good also at the Sabino Canyon and Mount Lemmon recreation site.
https://friendsofmaderacanyon.org/ to view some great maps for Madera Canyon and other hiking destinations around Tucson.
*MISSION SAN XAVIER DEL BAC*
Between Green Valley and Tucson—exit 92 off Interstate 19—stands the justly famous “white dove of the desert.” This beautiful mission is acclaimed by many to be the finest example of mission architecture in the United States. Although the church itself was founded in 1692, the structure you see today was not built until 1783. Through the years and the ups and downs of various ruling elements, the church fell into disrepair and unattended by priests during the mid 1800’s. The Tohono O’odham Indians, upon whose land this church stands, became very concerned about the fate of the mission and took it upon themselves to protect it and its furnishings. Various efforts to restore took place during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s until recently when extensive restoration and preservation systems have been put in place to preserve this treasure. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss a visit to this landmark. For more information, call 520-294-2624.
*NOGALES, ARIZONA TO NOGALES, MEXICO*
Follow I-19 south and follow the signs in Nogales to the International Border. If you are planning a day of shopping, parking is available just before the crossing at several lots that are well lit, have clean restrooms and are attended. Parking is approximately $4 a day with most lots closing at 7 p.m. Be sure to take your passport or government issued ID AND proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate to show on your return to the U.S. as this is a new requirement. Mexican vendors will take US currency, but if you need change, you may get Mexican currency. Although it is good to have a wide variety of US cash (but not a large dollar amount) with you, many vendors also take credit cards and checks. $400 worth of merchandise per person is allowed duty-free as well as one liter of liquor and one carton of cigarettes per adult. Anything more than $400 worth of merchandise will be taxed.
If you are planning to drive across the border, be sure to make arrangements for Mexican insurance BEFORE going. Although you can get insurance at companies in Nogales, AZ on your way to the border, we recommend you call Sanborn Insurance at 800-222-0158 and be prepared with your coverage in place before you leave the Green Valley area. They have been providing Mexican insurance for over 55 years.Unleaded and diesel fuels are available across the border.
For the latest in requirements for crossing the border visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Mexico.html to insure that you have the proper travel documents.
*OUT OF AFRICA WILDLIFE PARK*
Between Phoenix and Sedona lies this wildlife park that houses over 400 animals from all over the world in a natural environment. Included are lions, tigers, giraffes, rhinos, camels, ostrich, zebra, cobra, wildebeest, jaguar, leopard, wolves, hyenas and a variety of others. You have your choice of several shorter tours or opt for the 3 hour VIP tour which gives you a more up close and personal view of the animals and what goes on behind the scenes. The park is located at 3505 W. Highway 260 in Camp Verde AZ. For more information call 928-567-2840.
Don’t miss visiting this cute little town with its artist coop, art galleries, gift and clothing shops and the Velvet Elvis Pizza and Pasta, offering outstanding and unique homemade pizza and Italian dishes (open Thursday–Sunday) as well as the Gathering Ground bakery and deli. These places alone are worth the trip! For more information, call 520-394-2102.
*PATAGONIA LAKE STATE PARK*
This is a popular park for fishing and camping. There are hiking trails, a beach, boat rentals, boat ramps, and picnic sites. Saturday morning pontoon birding tours are offered by reservation from the Sonoita Creek National Area Visitor Center. Off of Highway 82, 16 miles northeast of Nogales. For information call 520-287-6965 or for boat rental call 520-287-6063. https://azstateparks.com/patagonia-lake
*ROAD TO RUBY AND ARIVACA*
Take the Ruby Road exit off South I-19 before Nogales and head to one of the best preserved ghost towns in Arizona. Beautiful scenery on the back side of the mountains makes this a really pleasant afternoon trip. Be sure to follow the signs and travel on into the village of Arivaca. Visit the Gadsden Coffee company, where they roast their own coffees, for a cup of their finest and a delicious sweet treat. And don’t miss the Arivaca Mercantile where the locals go for fresh meats, vegetables and a fair selection of wines. Several local shops and galleries are worth a browse. Visit http://www.arivaca.net for more information about Arivaca.
The non-profit Lonesome Oak Ranch is also located in the Arivaca area. They offer getaway accommodations for groups, families and small conferences (complete with meals). For more information, call 520-398-0596.
Take the day and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Sabino Canyon located in the Santa Catalina Mountains. Whether you take a leisurely tram ride, a narrated tour or just hike the trails on your own, you are sure to have an enjoyable day. Hiking trails range from easy to advanced. For more information, call 520-749-2861.
Visit http://www.sabinocanyon.com/ .
*SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK*
This park preserves saguaro cactus and other desert vegetation and occupies regions east and west of Tucson. The exotic saguaro, which may live up to 200 years and grow to a height of 40 feet, can thrive for as long as five years without water. Its unique blossom is Arizona’s state flower. There are hiking trails, visitor centers and scenic drives. For more information, call 520-733-5153 or 520-733-5158.
Visit https://www.nps.gov/sagu/index.htm .
*SONOITA/ELGIN WINE COUNTRY*
Stop in Sonoita and visit the Sonoita Mercantile Country Store at the junction of Highways 82 and 83. There you can get a map of the wineries located just outside of the Sonoita area, in the village of Elgin. Travel the scenic road through rolling hills and fields of vineyard and be sure to stop and sample the wares along the way. Award winning wines are coming from this area. Vineyards in the area are: Callaghan Vineyards (520-455-5322), Domaines Ellam (520-455-4734), Sonoita Vineyards and Winery (520-455-5893) and The Village of Elgin Winery 520-455-9309). If you are planning a day trip to the area, you might give them a call for the hours of their tasting rooms. Also, in the area is the Douglas Apple Orchard (520-455-9320) where organic apples are available from July to October. Square Top Ranch offers you the unique experience of an up close visit with some adorable alpacas. If you want to visit these cuties, please call in advance 520-455-4600.
For more information visit http://www.sonoitaaz.com/.
*SOUTHEASTERN AZ BIRD OBSERVATORY*
This group offers guided bird walks, tours and educational workshops at local birding hot spots. Call for schedule and information at 520-432-1388.
Visit their website at http://www.sabo.org/.
*TITAN MISSILE MUSEUM*
Named a National Historic Landmark in 1994, the Titan II Missile Museum—located just north of Green Valley, off Duval Mine Road—attracts over 50,000 visitors a year. Come see a vivid reminder of the cold war and the missile casing of the only remaining Titan missile site still intact. Visitors can tour the former intercontinental ballistic missile site, from ground level to the fascinating underground control room,daily from November through April – except Thanksgiving and Christmas – and every day except Monday and Tuesday from May through October. For more information call 520-625-7736.
Tombstone is known as “The Town too Tough to Die”. Perhaps the most renowned of Arizona’s old mining camps, it was established in 1877 by Ed Schieffelin. He came to Camp Huachuca with a group of soldiers and left the fort to prospect. When he did, his comrades told him he’d find his tombstone rather than silver. So, he named his first claim the Tombstone. Days of violence that made Tombstone more famous than the mines climaxed with the infamous Earp-Clanton OK Corral battle in 1881. For seven years the mines produced millions of dollars in silver and gold until rising underground waters forced suspension of operations. During WW I and II, Tombstone produced manganese and lead, but after those conflicts, Tombstone faded into obscurity. Eventually, the citizens of Tombstone decided to focus their time and energy on tourism and their rich history rather than grasp at a vanishing mining industry. Many of Tombstone’s historic buildings are still intact and can be toured during a visit of the city along with the oldest continuously published paper in Arizona. Tombstone is truly America’s best example of our 1880 western heritage.
For more information visit http://www.cityoftombstone.com/.
Historic Tubac was established in 1752 as a Spanish presidio or fort and is believed to be the first European settlement in Arizona. Tubac village was established in the 1880’s and in the 1940’s an Artist School was set up by artist Dick Nichols. Since then Tubac’s reputation as an artists’ colony has grown from that of a sleepy village with interesting historic sites and a few galleries to a bustling and thriving community with numerous fine shops, galleries and restaurants. Annual events in Tubac include the Santa Cruz Valley Car Nuts Show (January), Tubac Festival of the Arts (February), ArtWalk (March), Juan Bautista de Anza Days (October), Tubac, An Art Experience (November) and Luminaria Nights/Fiesta Navidad (December). For more information, call (520-398-2704.
Visit http://www.tubacaz.com/ .
Some 22 miles south of Green Valley, on Interstate 19, the Tumacacori National Historical Park offers a wonderful glimpse of Arizona’s fascinating past. Ruins of three Spanish colonial missions are preserved at this historical park. San Jose de Tumacacori, Los Santos Angeles de Guevavi and San Cayetano de Calabazas. One of these missions was established by the ‘padre on horseback’ – Father Eusebio Kino. Established near the turn of the 18th century by Jesuit missionaries, the missions were turned over to the Franciscans in 1768. The visitor center includes a lovely garden and fine museum and stands as the starting point for tours of the grounds led by Park Service personnel. The grounds are open several evenings during the year for special events and on Christmas Eve luminarias light the church and many of the buildings. For more information call 520-398-2341.
While you are in the area, don’t miss a chance to scoop up a load of fresh spices from the Santa Cruz Spice Company. It is located across from the mission and well worth your time. While famous since 1943 for their chili pepper products, there is no limit to the type of spices, sauces, mixes and rubs you will find here! Go to http://www.nps.gov/tuma/planyourvisit/directions.htm.
High atop Mount Hopkins, the second highest peak in the Santa Rita Mountain range, the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Arizona jointly oversee the operation of the largest single mirror telescope in North America. Guided all- day tours available from March through November begin at the Whipple Visitor Center near Amado. The Visitor Center is open M-F from 8:30-4:30. For more information call 520-670-5707.
4300’ altitude, warm days and cool nights makes this area the perfect place to grow vegetables and fruits. From apples, pears, Asian pears and peaches to sweet corn, tomatoes, chilies and pumpkins, this area has them. If wandering through fresh produce and perusing the farm stand and gift shop sounds like a good idea to you, then Apple Annie’s, located at 2081 Hardy Road just outside Wilcox, is the place for you. From early July through the end of October, there is always something coming out of the garden. In fact, you will also find pies, jams, jellies, country gifts and maybe even a tasty burger (on the weekends). Take the opportunity to pick your own produce or if that is just too much moving around after that big burger, choose from the selection in their farm stand. This is a great experience for both young and old!
Visit http://www.appleannies.com or call (520) 384-2084 for more information.