Visit Santa Cruz County - Nogales to Tubac Presidio

The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail starts here. Anza began recruiting settlers and soldiers in the Spring of 1775. They assembled in San Miguel de Horcasitas (now in Mexico) and departed on September 29, 1775, heading north. The final assembly was at Tubac Presidio, where they left Spanish civilization behind and traveled 890 miles to Monterey, California.

Download map

Driving Directions for Auto Route

From the international border, the trail heads due north, paralleling Nogales Wash and later follows along the Santa Cruz River. Travel north from the Port of Entry on Business Loop I-19, and connect with northbound I-19. Visit historic sites tied to the Anza expedition such as Tumacácori National Historical Park and Tubac Presidio State Historic Park. To continue on the route, see Pima County.

Hiking/Biking Ideas

Along the several miles of trails in Río Rico, look for two stone trail orientation signs. There is a 4.5-mile trail between Tumacácori and Tubac (off of I-19) managed by the Anza Trail Coalition of Arizona and open to the public. The trail also extends north from Tubac for about a mile. It is about 1.25 miles from either trailhead to the first river crossing. The frontage road along Interstate 19 offers biking opportunities.

Points of Interest

Expedition Campsites
  • Las Lagunas - Expedition Camp #13
    This campsite in Nogales is at a cienaga, or marsh, which is owned and managed by the nonprofit Santa Fe Ranch Foundation. It can be viewed by taking exit 5 off of northbound I-19 to Country Club Drive North and turning west. The site includes Anza Trail Interpretive panels and a short trail to view the wetlands. The Desert Shadows Middle School in Nogales is home to a large Anza mural.
  • Tubac Presidio State Historic Park - Expedition Camp #14
    Anza served as the Presidio de San Ignacio de Tubac's second commander from 1760-1776. About fifty cavalrymen were stationed at this remote outpost, founded in 1752 in response to an uprising by the local Akimel O'odham (Pima) tribe. Anza's house, made of adobe bricks, was located here in what is now Tubac Presidio State Historic Park (four miles north of Tumacácori, Tubac Rd. and Presidio Dr.). The adjacent area was the old Tubac Barrio (community). Today, it's managed by the Archeological Conservancy, and they arrange visits. A group called Los Tubaqueños offers period interpretation at the park. A re-enactment of the expedition's passage through Tubac takes place annually during the Anza Days.
  • Desert Shadows Middle School
    The Desert Shadows Middle School in Nogales is home to a large Anza mural.
  • Río Rico Trail
    Starting at the staging area parking lot off of Río Rico Rd., several miles of trail parallel Anza's route. From here, one can bike or walk to Tumacácori if it's not too hot. Look for several small stone trail signs.
  • Tumacácori National Historical Park
    Mission San José de Tumacácori is located on highway I-19 about 18 miles north of Nogales, and was first listed in 1691 as an outlying visita (a mission station without a resident priest) by the famous Jesuit missionary Father Eusebio Francisco Kino. By 1701, the village was a visita of the mission at Guevavi, and in 1771, Tumacácori was made the head mission of the district, and Guevavi was abandoned. San Cayetano de Calabasas is the adobe remnants of a site first occupied about 1756 as a Spanish mission visita. Father Pedro Font held mass here on October 17, 1775, as the expedition moved toward Tubac. Construction of the present mission church was begun around 1802. The visitor center is a National Historic Landmark and includes a museum. Visits to Calabasas and Guevavi can be arranged at the park's headquarters. A trail connects Tumacácori and Tubac along the Santa Cruz river through beautiful riparian habitat containing cottonwoods and mesquite. Look for several large ramadas enclosing interpretive panels about Anza's expeditions and the natural history of the area.

Additional Resources

« Return to County List