The San Pedro River Valley is regarded as one of the “Last Great Places in the Northern Hemisphere” by the Nature Conservancy, and was named the United States’ first “Important Bird Area” by the American Bird Conservancy. The river runs through the unique Sonoran Desert, which is ranked by National Geographic among the twelve “World’s Last Great Places”.
The Ranch is located right in the heart of this treasured area, between the charming artist village of Cascabel, and Benson, a storied cowboy and railroad town on the famous Butterfield Stage Coach Line. Tucson, Arizona’s second-largest city and international airport, is approximately 40 miles to the West.
With its mild climate, fresh water and fertile soil the San Pedro Valley has been populated by humans since approximately 13,000 years ago. Spear points and arrow heads were found in the remains of mammoths and other large mammals of the Ice Age, and several important Paleo Indian sites have been discovered along the river. The most significant is the Murray Springs Clovis Site, located in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, that contains evidence of the earliest known people to inhabit North America.
On the property itself no archaeological sites have been detected, however, plenty pre-historic evidence was found in hiking distance, both up- and down-stream from the Ranch. Other ancient sites close-by can be encountered horse back on scenic trail rides in the mountains and canyons on public land.
The Amerind Foundation Museum, located in the Little Dragoon Mountains, less than an hour from the Ranch, tells the compelling story of America’s first peoples, and has one of the world’s most envied collections of ancient and modern Southwestern pottery on display.
Other native American people, primarily of the Hohokam and O’Odham tribes of Southern Arizona, have populated the area later in history as well. The Spanish fought Apaches near the river twice in the 18th century, at the Battle of the Catalina River, and the First Battle of Terrenate. The intact remains of the Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrenate, a Spanish fortress marking the Northern extension of “New Spain” into the “New World”, are open to visitors, as are the Ft. Bowie and Ft. Grant National Historic Sites in the Dos Cabezas and the Pinaleno mountains.
Cochise Stronghold, a rugged natural fortress in the Dragoon Mountains, was the base and hide-out for legendary Chief Cochise, who led the Chiricahua band of the Apache tribe in their 15-year struggle with the U.S. Army. Finally in 1872, Cochise negotiated a treaty that allowed him and his people to stay in their homeland. The Ranch is located in Cochise County, which in 1881 was named after the famous Apache leader; county seat is Bisbee, a skillfully restored, colorful historic mining town.
Tombstone, “the town too tough to die”, is perhaps the most renowned of Arizona’s old mining camps. Rich silver and gold strikes turned the settlement into a lawless and violent boomtown, escalating in the legendary gunfight at the OK Corral where Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Virgil and Morgan Earp and John Ringo fought the Clantons and McLaurys. The historic re-enactment proves a never-tiring attraction for visitors from all over the world.
These and several more historic places are within an hour’s drive from the Ranch.
Just 10 percent of Arizona land is owned privately. Thus the list of designated wildlife areas, protected parks and forests, and National Monuments along and around the San Pedro River Valley is unrivaled – and far from complete:
- Kartchner Caverns State Park
- Coronado National Memorial
- Chiricahua National Monument
- Saguaro National Monument
- San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area
- Willcox Playa Wildlife Area
- Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area
- Muleshoe Ranch Preserve
- Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness
- Ramsey Canyon Preserve
The preservation of the natural beauty and exceptional biodiversity of the area is as much a local as a national priority with multiple grant programs for agricultural and ecological improvements available.