Recently, Jim, Ms. Rosemary and I (Ms. Karen) headed down to Arivaca to explore the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, and the Arivaca Creek Trail, also part of BANWR, where the ruins of the Wilbur-Cruce Ranch are. The Refuge comprises over 171,000 acres of grasslands, cottonwood wetlands, and sycamore canyons. It is home to the endangered masked Bobwhite Quail and over 300 other species of Birds.
From Tucson head south on I-19 and turn at the Amado exit, the one with the longhorns. Just past the Cow Palace turn left. Take your time. Enjoy the 22 miles of scenery. There will be bicyclists, horses, cows and other critters on this road. The border patrol has a stop here. Read More
Just before you get to Arivaca, turn south at the sign for the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Park the car, post a donation in the box and take a hike. Follow the concrete path to the boardwalk and bridges over the wetlands. Depending on the time of day and year, you may get lucky.
It was late September and 7am. We took the loop and hiked about 1.5 - 2 miles, saw a couple of hawks, some kind of ducks, and a lot of flowers. See our page on the BANWR, with a slideshow of long time resident Mary Scott's photos, showing some of the different birds which can be spotted here.
Pack a picnic lunch if you like, there are tables and plenty of shade. The only places to eat around here are La Gitana Cantina, one of the oldest bars in the US, Gadsden Coffee Company as you enter town, or 22 miles back and down the road to Tubac where you have plenty of choices or north to Green Valley where we suggest Ragazzi.
After exploring the wetlands we proceeded to the Arivaca Creek Trail, our primary goal was the Wilbur-Cruce Ranch. I had just completed Eva Wilbur Cruce's biography and wanted to see the place for myself. Less than a mile in from the trailhead you will find a footpath going up a short hill on the right. Take it. You will find what remains of the ranch. From there we came back down the hill and turned right and attempted to complete the loop that is described on the map and the literature, but got sidetracked on a few cowpaths. Not sure what cows are doing in the BANWR anyway. They are not an endangered species. Is there private land here?
The Brown Canyon Education Center is open November - April and by invitation only. Guided Hikes are offered from time to time.
The Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge Visitor's Center is located on Rt. 286 on the way to Sasabe at milepost 7.5.
You can find more information about hikes in the BANWR here.