We made it to southern Arizona just in time to escape the winter blues. Socializing our way through January – Yuma, Quartzsite, and Casa Grande were high energy experiences that made the time fly by. As February approached, Olivia and I were ready to enjoy some high desert solitude.
We reached out to the Facebook community for suggestions about Tucson – one of our friends sent us a New York Time’s piece about Linda Ronstadt’s borderland childhood. The article featured stories of her youth in southern Arizona and Mexico (one which inspired Paul Simon’s “Under African Skies” song).
This was the inspiration for us to create our own Arizona Borderland Tour.
Hiking and eating summed up our time in Tucson. We boondocked at Snyder Hill BLM for a week, enjoying it proximity to the city. Mission San Xavier, Agua Client Trail, and 4th Avenue were the sightseeing highlights. As for food, we loved Tania’s 33, Indian Fry Bread, and Govinda’s Natural Foods Buffet.
From Tucson, we moved south to Arivaca. Its a tiny desert town with beautiful rolling hills and an eclectic population. We camped at La Siesta Campgrounds, where the owner and staff are immensely hospitable. They made sure we always had enough fire wood and fresh coffee!
We took a day trip into Tubac, just in time to catch their annual art festival. The town was pristine, mixing modern architecture with restored desert abodes. Just outside of town is Tumacacori National Historical Park.
CORONADO NATIONAL FOREST
Moving east, we set up camp down Harshaw Road in the Coronado National Forest. Our private site was down a dirt drive and tucked into the side of a hill. Nearby was the Arizona Trail – is was a gorgeous desert hike that curved among hills and valleys.
The town of Patagonia was only five miles from our boondocking site on Harshaw Road. Slightly larger than Arivaca, Patagonia offered an array of organic foods and art galleries. The local coffee joint, Gathering Grounds, was our favorite spot to eat (and use free wifi)!
Whitewater Draw in McNeal, Arizona offers free camping for three days. But, even cooler than that, it is a crane migration sanctuary. During our stay there we watched thousands of cranes relaxing in the pond. Their chirping can be heard at all hours, but it was more amazing than annoying.
Bisbee was the grand finale of our Arizona Borderland Tour. The historical mining town, once known for its copper production, is now a thriving artist community. It was the kind of place we could’ve explored for weeks if time allowed.
We heard a lot of rhetoric in regards to the safety of camping & traveling so close to the Mexico border. To be absolutely clear, we never felt unsafe at anytime during our month-long borderland journey. The communities we visited were charming, quaint, and tight knit – the type of neighborhoods that leave their doors unlocked.
We believe in following our instincts, only camping and visiting places that resonate good vibrations. If you’re afraid of traveling so close to the border, we recommend that you follow your own instinct, and steer clear.
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