Places to Visit and Things to do around The Refuge
Discover Arivaca Creek and
The Arivaca Creek trail is one of the most popular walking spots on Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Its riparian canopy is a popular draw for birders and casual sightseers. For reading enthusiasts of the book "A Beautiful Cruel Country", this area has been a popular site to visit for those wanting to see the land referenced by the author Eva Antonia Wilbur-Cruz.
A quarter mile level stroll from the Arivaca Creak trail head begins a more strenuous hike on the Mustang Trail, a 5-mile round trip hike to the top of a small mountain called El Cerro. Or you can just walk the well maintained moderate trail to the saddle for fine views. Whether you are out for a walk or just passing through, the Arivaca Creek trail is a beautiful often overlooked place to spend a day out in nature.
Just east of the Arivaca Trail parking lot at milepost 10.7 the refuge has completing a parking area and pedestrian gate that leads to Honnas Pond. It is a seasonal pond with great dragonflies at the right time (like the photo taken in 2007. At any season it is a quiet spot not far from the road.
Visit the Arivaca Cienega
Come to Arivaca to visit a rare desert wetland. The Arivaca Cienega is a major birding destination and a great place to stroll the trails or sit on a bench and see what happens when desert and water coexist.
It is also a popular place for school field trips.
It is less than a mile east of Arivaca on Arivaca Road. Watch for the big refuge sign. Often people think that the Cienega is the entire refuge, but is just one small part of a much larger Refuge which lies west of Arivaca.
At the entrance to the Cienega you will find restrooms, picnic tables and an interpretive pavilion
The trail system includes a boardwalk across the wetlands and a viewing deck at Willow pond with telescopes.
Right next door is the town of Arivaca - a true haven from the modern world with a diversity and spirit of community that matches the landscapes around it. The town really comes out on "First Saturdays" when the shopping, food, people watching, conservation and sights will completely delight you. And it is only 35 scenic minutes from Green Valley. Go to
Wonder where these places are?
Click on the refuge poster image to download a 4.3 Mb PDF of it. There are other maps at the Maps page
Many years ago there was a lovely pond called Willow Pond. It eventually succumbed to plant succession and became a cattail marsh, a paradise for blackbirds and rails, but the open water was gone and with it the ducks, coots, frogs and all its aquatic diversity.
The refuge recently responded to the request of the Arivaca community and cleared the cattails. Now the restored basin is waiting for the monsoon. You can visit it by taking a right at the end of access trail, walk the trail up to the telescopes. Voila!
Photo courtesy Mary Scott.
View to north, Ruby Road lower left, Arivaca Cienega in lower right quarter, Arivaca Road to Green Valley upper right
Willow Pond a month after restoration. There are already blackbirds, swallows, phoebes, nesting killdeer and dragonflies.
Deep in the heart of the Baboquivari Mountains beneath the tower of Baboquivari Peak is Brown Canyon. Here the Buenos Aires Refuge is charged with protecting and preserving a sky island canyon ecosystem. This is the location of the Environmental Education Center Lodge.
Go to the page on
The Refuge Headquarters and Visitor Center are in the old Buenos Aires Ranch buildings and offer the visitor exhibits, information, a book shop and shady grounds for enjoying the "good airs" and expansive vistas.
During wet years the ponds and tanks are a spectacular birding destination.
HEADQUARTERS VISITORS' CENTER