Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge


A view west across the Altar Valley at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
The Baboquivari Mountains rise to the west of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
Masked bobwhite quail at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

The Buenos Aires Ranch was comprised of some 117,107 acres of semi-desert habitat in the Altar Valley of southern Arizona. When it came on the market for sale, the US Fish & Wildlife Service picked it up as a great place for the re-introduction of several endangered and threatened species of Arizona birds and wildlife. In particular, the Fish & Wildlife Service has been working to bring the masked bobwhite quail back from the brink of extinction. They've also been working to re-introduce pronghorns to the area.

The property stretches across the Altar Valley from high in the Baboquivari Mountains to the west into the Sierrita Mountains to the east. Preserved were riparian areas along Arivaca Creek and the Arivaca Cienega. Brown Canyon in the Baboquivari's also has a beautiful stream lined with sycamores that meanders through an oak woodland (Brown Canyon is accessible by appointment only).

A pronghorn at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

Since coming into Fish & Wildlife hands, the valley bottom has returned to being the sea of grass that it once was. Fish & Wildlife has also been working to restore much of the former wetlands and cottonwood-lined streambeds to be more wildlife-friendly.

The refuge is open to the public 24 hours a day. The Visitor Center is open from 7:30 am to 4 pm every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day, and weekends from June 1 through August 15. That portion of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge that runs parallel to the international border south of Garcia Road has been closed to all public use.

To get there, go west from Tucson on Arizona Highway 86 to the road junction at Three Points. Once there, go southwest on Arizona Highway 286 for 35 miles to milepost 7.5. Turn east and follow the signs to the refuge headquarters.

The Baboquivari Mountains to the west of Buenos Aires NWR
The Baboquivari Mountains to the west of Buenos Aires NWR
Mule deer at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
A herd of mule deer at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
A field of Mexican poppies and cactus at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
A field of mexican poppies and cactus at Buenos Aires NWR
Brown Canyon at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
Brown Canyon at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
Photos courtesy of Steve Hillebrand, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Map courtesy of National Geographic Topo!