Patagonia is a little, lazy southern town (pop. below 900) where I stopped for a while driving Route 82 from Nogales towards Tombstone. Well, I noticed only a few stores, gas station and restaurant/bar along the main road. Hmm... I was still at the beginning of my US long trip and entering Arizona I skipped Arizona Welcome Center. Thus I had no travel literature and no information on what's in Patagonia and around. So, I didn't know that Patagonia is an internationally renowned “birdwatching” destination with visitors from around the world stopping here to see over 300 species of rare and exotic birds that migrate from Mexico to this southeastern tip of Arizona.
Now, I'd turn northwards 7 miles before reaching Patagonia to visit Patagonia Lake State Park (entrance fee $7 per car) and Sonoita Creek State Natural Area: hiking trails and over 300 species of birds.
I would also get to Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve (from Patagonia about 1 mile to entrance; $5 per person) to watch some rare species: the gray hawk, violet-crowned hummingbird, mountain lion, bobcat, white-tailed deer, javelina, coatimundi, coyote, desert tortoise.
But probably first I would hit my car to Bog Hole Wildlife Area, some 3 miles east of Patagonia. It's the area for watching birds (red-tailed hawk), mule deer, white-tailed deer, black-tailed jack rabbit, bobcat, and javelina. It's a pity I didn't get there
I drove from Tubac via Nogales, Patagonia and Sonoita towards Tombstone (Route 82 - pictures 2-4). As soon as I noticed the sign Welcome to Kartchner Caverns State Park (it was in Huachuca City - what a name!) I decided to give it a try as I love caves.
As soon as I arrived at the park gates I got to know that I was 2 (two!) days too late for Big Room Tour ($22.95 per person) which had been available October 15 - April 15 (the Big Room is a bat nursery other months). This guided tour is the main attraction of the caves and park. Rotunda/Throne Room Tour ($18.95 per person) is available all year round but it was sold out for that day, as I was warned, and I was told that it's less interesting than the Big Room Tour. There were surprisingly many cars driving that road. Well, I didn't spend $10 for the park entrance and immediatelly hit my car back towards Tombstone (picture 5). Now, I've got to know that photography is not allowed in the cave :-(. So, maybe I should transfer this tip to tourist traps.
1. If possible visit Kartchner Caverns October 15 - April 15
2. Reservations are strongly recommended. Call 8 a.m. to 5 p.m +1 (520) 586-CAVE (2283)
After visit to Tubac I was going to visit legendary Tombstone. So, I had to drive I-19 back southwards to Nogales and then Route 82 northeast to Patagonia. For someone living far from deserts and sunny rocky formations like me, this was a very scenic 20 miles drive to Patagonia.
This is so called the Basin and Range Province that covers much of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It's an area of elongate north-south trending arid valleys bounded by mountain ranges which also bound adjacent valleys. Route 82 from Nogales to Patagonie crosses some mountain ranges and valleys. Look at my pictures.