Every year thousands of people come to Southern Arizona for the year-round golf and, with no less that ten public courses within thirty minutes, Tubac is an ideally situated destination. The Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, designed in 1959 by a group including the late Bing Crosby, offers an exceptional 27 hole championship course that skirts the riparian perimeter of the lush Santa Cruz River. The nearby Esplendor Resort at Rio Rico continues the tradition of fine Robert Trent Jones, Sr. courses with it’s par 72 gem that offers challenges to golfers of all skill levels.
Hiking and Camping!
The mountains and dirt roads around Tubac offer hikers numerous opportunities to experience the desert up close. Summer temps sometimes exceed 100°, so always bring plenty of water. In Tubac, camping is available at the Tubac Trailer Tether, (520) 398-2111, and the Flying W RV Ranch, (520) 398-9148.
Anza Trail – A section of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail lies along the Santa Cruz River between Tubac and Tumacacori. The trail commemorates the route followed by Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza who led a group of soldiers and settlers from Tubac to the Pacific coast in 1775 where they founded an outpost that later became San Francisco. Depending on your point-of-view, the Anza Trail hike begins at either the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park or the Tumacacori National Historic Park. Either way, the 4 mile trek between parks takes the hiker through a rare and vibrant desert riparian region. The trail is mostly level with a few traverses across the Santa Cruz River that occasionally result in a wet foot. There is no shuttle service between the two parks, so bring two cars if you want to make it a one-way hike.
Madera Canyon – Scenic high desert vistas surround Tubac and the highest of these is nearby Mount Wrightson, accessible through Madera Canyon. Part of the Coronado National Forest, Madera Canyon offers great hiking, birding, mountain biking and picnicking. Accommodations include a campground and a lodge with cabins. Learn more at the website of Friends of Madera Canyon.
Patagonia Lake – Though not exactly in Tubac, we mention Patagonia Lake State Park because it’s just a short 45 minute drive. The 265-acre man-made lake nestled in the foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains offers boating, fishing, bird watching, picnicking, campsites and full RV hookups. The nearby Sonoita Creek State Natural Area preserves a portion of the Sonoita Creek watershed and is Arizona’s first significant Natural Area. Low impact recreation includes hiking, horseback riding and bird-watching.
Picnicking – The picnic grounds adjacent to the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park (1 Burruel Street) are an excellent spot to enjoy a break. The tables are at the Anza Trail trailhead. Picnic tables are also available in the Tubac Plaza, at Ron Morris County Park (east end of Calle Iglesia), and on the park grounds behind the Tubac Community Center (50 Bridge Road).
Attractions around Tubac!
(Tubac Presidio State Historic Park (In the center of Tubac)
Located in Tubac’s Old Town, the park’s museum offers a fascinating look at the history of the Santa Cruz Valley and Arizona’s first printing press. The park is Arizona’s first state park and marks the location of Arizona’s first European settlement. An underground archaeological site displays the adobe presidio ruins. The furnished 1885 Schoolhouse, Otero Hall and Rojas House are all on the National Register of Historic Places. The park is open 7 days from 9 AM to 5 PM. Living history and printing press demonstrations take place frequently from October thru March. For more information call (520) 398-2252. More about the Tubac Presidio.
(Tumacacori National Historical Park (A few minutes south of Tubac)
Located just 4 miles south of Tubac on the East Frontage Road, the Tumacacori National Historical Park is not to be missed. The main unit of the park preserves the remains of the Spanish mission church San Jose de Tumacacori and the associated cemetery, mortuary chapel and portions of the convento. An adobe visitor center and museum displays exhibits. The adjacent patio garden features plants of the mission period. Open everyday 8 AM to 5 PM, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. For information call (520) 398-2341 or visit online.
(Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (30 minutes northeast of Tubac)
Our crystal clear night skies draw astronomers from all over the world. The Observatory offers tours and popular evening programs. The Visitors Center, located in Amado at the base of Mount Hopkins in the Santa Rita Mountains, features displays and exhibits on astronomy and astrophysics, natural science, and cultural history. Public access to the telescope arrays atop Mount Hopkins is limited to guided tours via a shuttle bus from the Visitor Center. These daytime tours are popular and by advance reservation only, so call ahead, 520-670-5707, or visit online.
(Peña Blanca Lake (25 minutes south of Tubac)
About twenty miles south of Tubac, Peña Blanca lake is a pleasant spot for hiking, fishing and bird watching. Picnic and lakeside camping sites available. For more information visit the Coronado National Forest website.
(Titan Missile Museum (25 minutes north of Tubac)
Take a tour of a cold war era relic! The fascinating tour through the Titan missile silo is often led by folks who were there when it was an active military installation. In Green Valley, about twenty miles north of Tubac. For more information, call (520) 625-7736 or visit online.
(Asarco Mineral Discovery Center (30 minutes north of Tubac)
Copper mining is part of the region’s growing economy, and the Asarco Mineral Discovery Center gives visitors to the area a chance to learn first hand where their pennies come from. Its fascinating! For more information call (520) 625-7513 or visit online.
Tourism Resources for Tubac & the Santa Cruz Valley!
Besides the art and history of Tubac, Santa Cruz County offers visitors to Southern Arizona a cornucopia of activities. In Tubac there are two places to begin discovering what the county has to offer. Visit either the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park in the historic district or the Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center located at the village entrance across from the Tubac sign and flags.
The Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance provides information on the unique heritage experiences that visitors can enjoy throughout the Santa Cruz River Valley.
In addition, the Green Valley – Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce and the Nogales Chamber of Commerce offer visitors generous amounts of information on their respective communities! If your travel plans include either community, you will find useful tips at both Chambers of Commerce web sites.
Where the Birds Are
Tubac rests along the Santa Cruz River where high desert scenery mixes with a lush riparian cottonwood forest. The results make this location an exceptional one for birders seeking many of Southern Arizona’s lesser observed birds. Of special interest for birders is the Anza Trail, which winds a leisurely pace from the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park through the cottonwoods on its way to the Tumacacori National Historic Park, just three miles south.
Nearby Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains with easy access from Green Valley is a world-renowned area for birding. Just a short drive from Tubac is the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve along Sonoita Creek, one of the few remaining permanent streams and the richest riparian habitat in the region. Ramsey Canyon Preserve near Sierra Vista is a short and scenic day trip from Tubac.