Baboquivari and Tubac


With the holidays on the horizon I haven’t devoted as much time to exploring the area. However, I did get one hike in and take a day trip to Tubac.

On Thursday, December 9th I hiked with a group from the Green Valley Recreation Hiking Club. The destination this time was Baboquivari Peak. The 2,065-acre Baboquivari Peak Wilderness is located 50 miles southwest of Tucson, Arizona in Pima County. The wilderness includes a small, but spectacular portion of the east side of the Baboquivari Range. The sharp rise of Baboquivari Peak dominates the wilderness area. Elevations range from 4,500 feet to 7,730 feet. Vegetation varies from saguaro, paloverde and chaparral communities to oak, walnut and pinyon at the higher elevations.

There is a lot of myths and legends that surround this place and here is a sample of what I found:

Baboquivari Peak is the most sacred place to the Tohono O’odham people. It is the center of the Tohono O’odham cosmology and the home of the creator, I’itoi. According to tribal legend, he resides in a cave below the base of the mountain. This mountain is regarded by the O’odham nation as the navel of the world -— a place where the earth opened and the people emerged after the great flood. Baboquivari Peak is also sometimes referred to as I’Itoi Mountain. In the native O’odham language, it is referred to as Waw Kiwulik, meaning “narrow about the middle”. The O’odham people believe that he watches over their people to this day.

Baboquivari Peak was mentioned in the journals of Jesuit missionary Padre Kino, who made many expeditions into this region of the Sonoran Desert, beginning in 1699 and establishing Spanish Missions in the area. According to O’odham nation legend at the beginning of the Spanish conquest of what is present day Arizona, a certain Spanish officer and his men tried to dig their way into Baboquivari. Suddenly, the ground under them opened and Baboquivari swallowed them. This legend has similarities to Francisco Vásquez de Coronado search for the Seven Cities of Cibola and a place called Quivira, where, he was told, he could get his hands on unlimited quantities of gold.

Well, sounds pretty interesting, doesn’t it? There was five miles or so of dirt road and jeep tracks that led from the main road to the Baboquarvari ranch. There are two houses at the site and it looked like they were still occasionally used. The road in required a four-wheel-drive vehicle and you wouldn’t go to town very often if you tried to live out there.

The hike started near the home site and followed a deep draw up to a saddle. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t go on to the top. The hike was about 8 miles, round trip, and climbed about 2,500 feet to a saddle. There is a very low use trail, that zig-zags across the draw, before following a ridge to the saddle. As we were there to hike, I didn’t get a chance to take a lot of pictures.

Looking back down the valley

Once at the saddle I bushwhacked along the ridge to get a good view of the valley to the west. Wow, that is nice!

Looking West from the saddle

Looking north from the saddle

 There is a trail that goes up on the shoulder of the peak and follows crack up to the rock that is kind of a false summit. I was told that from there it wasn’t really too bad of a scramble up to the top. Darn, so close yet so far away…. I do want to go back sometime and go up to the top.

Almost back to the car.


The next adventure was a trip to the little community of Tubac. Tubac is only about 15 miles south of where I live and on the way down I stopped off at a little wide spot in the road, to get a feel for the area. You know you’re in Arizona when this is what you see:

The Cow Palace

And, right across the street is:

The Longhorn Grill

Get the feeling? 

Tubac was established in 1752 as a Spanish presidio, the first Spanish colonial garrison in what is now Arizona. Tubac was one of the stops on the Camino Real (the “Royal Road”) from Mexico to the Spanish settlements in California. Tubac’s most famous Spanish resident was Juan Bautista de Anza. While stationed at Tubac (1760–1776), de Anza built the chapel of Santa Gertrudis, the foundations of which lie beneath today’s St. Ann’s Church. Apaches attacked the town repeatedly in the 1840s, forcing the Sonoran Mexicans to abandon both Tumacocori and Tubac. In 1861 it was the scene of a four day battle between Tubac’s male population, Confederate militia and Apache warriors.

Today, Tubac is the perfect shoppers’ paradise with over eighty galleries and shops that feature hand-crafted items, sculpture, paintings, clothing and some of Southern Arizona’s best import shops.  Tubac restaurants offer lunch and dinner menus that range from elegant dining to tasty, barbeque cook burgers. Here is a site that has a lot of local history and information:

So what did I see? Here are a few shots from around the town and a small sculpture park that is in progress:

Wild Horses

Wild Flowers

Shhhh... Is he sleeping?

He's one of the locals...

Here's his partner!

Wild Hogs....

Where's the Toco Bell?

There's more down this street!

A shifty look'in dude.

Here's his Indian friend.

Don't forget Santa.

There's a nice cruiser!

Here's another plaza...

I wonder what's back there?

Oh there's more, alright!

Check this out....

Need something for that bare wall?

Where is everyone? It must be getting late. Let's go!


Well, wasn’t that fun? Tubac is one of those places you enjoy going back to. Great art, good food and lots of interesting local history.

Tubac at sunset.

So ends another adventure. I hope you’re having half as much fun as I am, exploring your world and celebrating the awesome beauty you find there.


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