US Route 89-The West
US Route 89 Road Trip Guide-Santa Cruz Valley

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Nogales to Tucson Road Trip Guide

Distance: 66.2 miles • Elevation Change: Nogales 3845 ft.-Tucson 2460 ft.

The surviving sections of historic US Route 89 from Nogales to Tucson are parallel to Interstate 19 which was completed in 1978. The highway parallels the Santa Cruz River in a broad valley between high mountain ranges through the Sonoran Desert. This section of highway 89 is notable for several historic sites related to early Spanish exploration and settlement and is part of the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Area.

Special Attractions:
Tumacacori Highlands Wilderness: Take the Ruby Road exit from I-19 and drive west to access this area of mountains, valleys and canyons. Fishing and camping is available at Pena Blanca Lake. Sycamore Canyon in the Pajarita Wilderness is a hidden gem of lush riparian habitat. For a panoramic view of the southern Arizona landscape, hike to the abandoned fire lookout on the summit of Atascosa Mountain.
Tumacácori National Historic Park: Tour the ruins of Mission San José de Tumacácori established in 1691 and learn about Spanish exploration and colonization in the Visitors Center. Artisans demonstrate traditional crafts including paper flower making, Mexican reverse-glass painting, O’odham basketry, pottery, and tortilla making.
Tubac Presidio State Historic Park: Home to the ruins of the oldest Spanish military fort in Arizona, San Ignacio de Tubac. Artifacts on display shed light on how the Native American and Spanish peoples may have lived. Explore a Commandant’s quarters, a Territorial Schoolhouse, and an adobe rowhouse while learning Spanish Colonial history.
San Xavier Mission: Inspired by European cathedrals built in the eighteenth century, visitors to the San Xavier mission will marvel at its ornate interior and can learn more about the oldest Spanish Colonial structure in Arizona at the Mission’s museum or on a free tour. Undergoing restoration. Daily mass is offered.


Historic Route 89 from Nogales to Tucson

Towns, Cities & Reservations:
Rio Rico
Green Valley
San Xavier Reservation
Pasqua Yaqui Reservation

Public Lands & Historic Places:
Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Area
Coronado National Forest
Tumacacori Highlands Proposed Wilderness
QuickGuide: Click photo to enlarge. On big image, roll over right side and click for next, left side for previous.
Castle Rock, Tumacacori Highlands Proposed WildernessThe Atascosa Mountains, Tumacacori Highlands Proposed WildernessSunset on Atascosa Peak, Tumacacori Highlands Proposed Wilderness
Atascosa Lookout Trail
Atascosa Mountains SunsetAtascosa Lookout TrailheadAtascosa Lookout TrailFirst View of the LookoutLookout and Privy
Atascosa LookoutInside the LookoutAtascosa Panorama

Pajarita Wilderness
Sycamore Canyon, Pajarita Wilderness

Tumacacori National Historic Park
Tumacacori Mission

Tubac Presidio State Historic Park
Santa Rita Mountains-Mt. Wrightson Wilderness
San Xavior Mission

Santa Cruz River
Atascosa Mountains
San Cayetano Mountains
Tumacacori Mountains
Santa Rita Mountains
Sierrita Mountains

User Contributed Stories
Add A New Story

Title: Sunset into Evening at San Xavier del Bac
I love the San Xavier del Bac mission as a shooting location. It's such a lovely place, with lots of visual interest. Add a warm, orange sunset and the magic begins. Of course, shooting doesn't have to end once the sun is down....
Created By: Jeff M.   Last Modified: 12/5/2010 2:36:54 PM
Jeff S. Maltzman, 2010
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Title: Tumacacori Mission
Visiting the Tumacacori National Historic Park
Created By: James   Last Modified: 1/22/2010 3:32:47 PM
© 2006 James Cowlin
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Title: Tubac Presidio State Historic Park
Created By: AZStateParks   Last Modified: 5/4/2009 3:34:45 PM
Photography Copyright © Arizona State Parks. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited.
View Story

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