The Southern and Southeastern region of Arizona provides endless opportunities to discover the unique beauty and history of the area. You can’t help but feel the fusion and influence of American Indian, Spanish, Mexican and rich Western Heritage when you’re here. You’ll likely want to stay awhile because there is so much to explore – world renowned birding in Madera Canyon and Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve; majestic beauty and mystery of Saguaro National Park and Sonoran Desert Museum; and captivating history of quaint old Western towns like Tombstone and Bisbee steeped in Arizona’s Old West and mining legacies. The landscape alone is astounding. The iconic saguaro cactus – the Green Giants of the Sonoran Desert, the geological drama of the “Land of Standing Up Rocks” of Chiricahua National Monument with trails through forests of rock spires, and the spectacular and natural wonder of Kartchner Caverns State Park will all rise up to meet you and are not to be missed.
As you venture out on regional day trips to diverse destinations, prepare to be touched by the quiet beauty of the Sonoran Desert floor, the majestic Santa Rita Mountains, high desert grasslands, and rolling hills along Patagonia -Sonoita Scenic Road. The craggy mountains, scrubby woodlands and expansive vistas are lined with easy access to outdoor recreation areas and wildlife preserves for walking, hiking, biking, birding, horseback riding, boating and golfing. Sonoita and Elgin – Arizona’s largest wine country offers beautiful scenery with award-winning Arizona wines and provides refreshing respite.
Green Valley is your gateway to these adventures and a perfect place to call home as you explore the region. Using Green Valley as your home base offers convenient proximity to many prized destinations, and gives you the added opportunity to get to know this nationally recognized, premiere active adult community of Southern Arizona. There is no better place to relax and watch the sunset after a day of discovery than Green Valley, located in the beautiful Santa Cruz Valley of the Sonoran Desert. As the Santa Rita Mountains turn glorious hues of rose, pink, and lavender, followed by the spectacular night skies (yes, you can see the Milky Way) you may find yourself contemplating relocation. By staying in Green Valley for your Southern Arizona adventure, you will discover firsthand how the breathtaking topography, desirable semi-arid climate, unlimited diversity of recreation, social, education, and volunteer opportunities found in this special place merge together to create an environment and quality of life distinctly different from other 55+ active adult communities in the world. Green Valley’s closest neighbors are Tucson and Sahuarita to the north, with Arivaca, Amado, Tubac, and Tumacacori to the south.
Sahuarita – Drive time from Green Valley: 10 minutes
Green Valley’s closest neighboring community is Sahuarita, which begins where Green Valley’s northern boundary ends. Sahuarita is a thriving master-planned community popular with young families. Many of the town’s educated, energetic, 26,000 residents work in Tucson or with the local mining companies. Green Valley enjoys Sahuarita’s shopping centers, restaurants, medical services, the monthly visit from the Tucson Food Truck Roundup, and the refreshing parks that feature easy walking paths and Sahuarita Lake where the local kids catch their first fish.
Arivaca – Drive time from Green Valley: 10 minutes south
Originally a Pima Indian village, Arivaca is now a rural ranching community popular with bicyclist and hikers. Arivaca Cienega, a wetland associated with the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, is popular with birdwatchers. Hiking trails and interpretive signs provide visitors with an introduction to the area. Visitors often see rabbits, coyotes, deer, and many species of birds.
Amado – Drive time from Green Valley: 15 minutes south
Amado is a census-designated place south of Green Valley. The population is under 300, but Amado is nevertheless a place of interest. The East Ridge Trail, a 13-mile out and back trail to Elephant Head is located near Amado. This visually striking local landmark, Elephant Head, is a mountain peak in the Santa Rita Mountains. Amado is also where the classic, Oh What a Beautiful Morning scene from Oklahoma! was filmed. Trailheads to the historic Anza Trail are available for hikers.
Tubac—Drive time from Green Valley: 20 minutes south
Everybody loves Tubac! Find the perfect painting to hang above the sofa. Buy holiday gifts from the many import shops. Visit the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park. Dance the night away at Tubac Jack’s. Golf and enjoy lunch at the Tubac Golf Resort and Spa where Tin Cup was filmed. Discover rare birds on the Anza Trail along the Santa Cruz River. Kick off the holiday season with Luminaria Nights! Tubac is the oldest European settlement in Arizona and a visit feels like a trip through time. Tubac is imminently walkable with loads of eclectic shops and galleries, restaurants, a tasting room, and endless diversions.
Tumacacori — Drive time from Green Valley: 25 minutes south
Just south of Tubac, the community of Tumacacori is comprised of about 200 households and three interesting destinations—two access points to the Anza Trail that runs along the Santa Cruz River, the Mission San Jose de Tumacacori in the Tumacacori National Historic Park and a cook’s dream, the Santa Cruz Chili and Spice Company.
Tombstone – Drive time from Green Valley: 90 minutes southeast
The historical community of Tombstone allows you to step back in time and experience the Old Wild West. In the 1880’s, Tombstone was a booming mining town. Many of the original buildings still stand with historical evidence from its rough and tough days. Tombstone offers a glimpse into the past with historic attractions such as museums, history tours on foot, stagecoach or trolley, underground mine experiences, shopping, dining, and a reenactment of the famous Gunfight at the OK Corral. History buffs can learn about the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday and their infamous clash with the Clanton brothers and the McLaury’s. This authentic Wild West town, still reminiscent of days past, provides visitors with a unique experience walking the same streets and dining in the same saloons as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Explore the Tombstone Arizona Courthouse built in 1882 which is now a state historic park and museum filled with artifacts and old photographs. The Rose Tree Inn Museum boasts the largest rose tree in the world that is over 100 years old and covers an 8,000 square foot arbor. The rose tree of Tombstone blooms during April of each year.
Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area – Drive time from Green Valley: about 2 hours southeast
The Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, managed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department is now the best Sandhill Crane viewing site in Arizona. Each winter, visitors experience the memorable sights and sounds of more than 20,000 Sandhill Cranes each winter. In addition to the Sandhill cranes, Whitewater Draw’s shallow waters attract many kinds of ducks, geese, herons, egrets, shorebirds, gulls and terns. Hunting in the grasslands or flying overhead is prairie and peregrine falcons and wintering hawks. Area features amenities such as restrooms, parking, and motorhome access, walking trails, interpretive signs, and viewing platforms with binoculars. This incredible birdwatching experience is not to be missed. The closest Town is McNeal, AZ
Patagonia – Drive time from Green Valley: about 60 minutes
Patagonia is a small town located in the valley of Sonoita Creek between the Santa Rita Mountains to the north and the Patagonia Mountains to the south. This old mining town is now a thriving arts community and a favorite stop for visitors exploring the region. The Nature Conservancy’s Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Nature Preserve is one of the most popular birding spots in the United States and features walking trails along Sonoita Creek. The surrounding mountains, grasslands and forests provide a beautiful atmosphere and the town is a great place for shopping, gallery hoping and local theatre. Patagonia hosts an arts and crafts festival in October that attracts more than 10,000 visitors. For those that want to swim in a mountain lake, Patagonia Lake State Park is just down the road and offers a beach, campgrounds, picnic area with ramadas, tables and grills, a creek trail, boat ramps and a marina.
Sonoita & Elgin – Drive time from Green Valley: about 60 minutes southeast
Sonoita and Elgin are neighboring small towns in the rolling high desert grasslands of southeastern Arizona and wine lovers can spend the better part of a day touring the vineyards in this area. All of them welcome visitors to their tasting rooms. The first commercial vineyard was established in 1979 by Gordon Dutt, a retired soil scientist from the University of Arizona, who proved that the area’s soil and climate were right for growing wine grapes.
You are in for a special treat when you combine the beautiful scenery of southeastern Arizona with award-winning wines and friendly locals. Higher elevations mean cooler temperatures so it is a perfect year-round destination.
Bisbee – Drive time from Green Valley: about 2 hours southeast
You can truly step back in time in the mile-high community of Bisbee in southeastern Arizona. This charming, former cooper mining town features a colorful history and a thriving arts scene. Bisbee is a culturally rich community retaining its welcoming spirit, and offering visitors a rich mix of art, music, history, architecture, outdoor activities, dining and nightlife. The Smithsonian affiliated Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum gives visitors an in-depth look at the lives of the miners and settlers of this unique area of the southwest. The world famous Queen Mine Tour offers a fascinating and up-close experience of the underground world of the miners.
National Parks, State Parks and National Monuments in the Region
Visitors exploring the south and southeastern region of Arizona who enjoy state and national parks must add the following gems to their list:
- Saguaro National Park
- Arizona State Parks in the region
- Catalina State Park
- Patagonia Lake State Park
- Kartchner Caverns State Park
- Sonoita Creek State Natural Area
- Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park
- Tubac Presidio State Historic Park
- Chiricahua National Monument
- Tumacacori National Historical Park