Wildlife Watching & Nature Trails


Get out and enjoy your refuge! Take a short day-hike or camp under the stars on this vast landscape.

Arivaca Cienega Trail is a 1-1/4 mile loop over a boardwalk and path with opportunities to see abundant bird life in a rare desert wetland. The trailhead has picnic tables and rest rooms and it is located about ¼ mile east of Arivaca. The Cienega is open to explore at your leisure or you can join Tucson Audubon for a free guided bird walk the first Saturday of each month at 8:00am November through April. Audubon walks begin at the Arivaca Cienega trailhead. Contact Rob Rutledge by phone at 520-609-9675 or by email at merlin32757@gmail.com for more information. 

Arivaca Creek Trail meanders one mile along the seasonal stream beneath towering cottonwoods. Trailhead is 2 miles west of Arivaca. 

Mustang Trail is a 5-mile loop route that branches off the Arivaca Creek Trail, ¼ mile downstream from the trailhead. The rugged trail climbs El Cerro, a small mountain with steep sections at the top.

Driving Loop
Pronghorn Drive circles 10 miles through open grassland with sweeping views of the Altar Valley. Follow signs off the entry road just south of headquarters. We recommend a high clearance vehicle for this road as washboard conditions may be present.

Brown Canyon, in the Baboquivari mountains, is a beautiful sycamore-shaded canyon of extraordinary diversity and a protected and pristine example of the sky island ecosystem. From the 200 million year-old volcanic rocks to the rich and distinctive variety of plants and animals, this protected enclave of high Sonoran desert is a treasured part of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Brown Canyon is accessible November through April, by appointment only. 

Arivaca Cienega and Creek Trails:
From Tucson take Highway 286 south from Three Points to milepost 12. Turn left and drive east 12 miles to Arivaca. From Interstate 19, take the Amado/Arivaca exit west, turn right at the T, then left at the Cow Palace onto Arivaca Road. Then drive 23 miles to Arivaca. Arivaca Cienega Trail is ¼ mile east of Arivaca. Arivaca Creek Trail is 2 miles west of town.

Brown Canyon Environmental Education Center (by appointment only):
From Tucson take I-10 to I-19. Exit west onto Ajo Way/Hwy 86. Travel 21 miles to Robles Junction/Three Points. Turn south (left) onto Highway 286. Go past milepost 21 to two mailboxes on the right. Turn at here and wait on the west side of the cattle guard. You will be met by a staff member or a volunteer at your reserved time.