In the 18th century Juan Bautista de Anza once camped in this area as he and his followers were on their way from southern Arizona to San Francisco. I could see how this area would be best to travel through; flattened by any run-off from the Tucson Mountain slopes and the Santa Cruz River overflow. Today, many people live in the Marana, Arizona area and enjoy the outdoor space for hiking, bicycling the Loop path, and bird-watching. Within the 104 acres, the wetland area attracts resident and migrating birds. Recently I observed 15 different species of birds of the 244 individual bird species reported to stop by sometime within a year.
Looking for another area to explore? Stop by when you are riding the bicycle Loop path or park your car and observe birds from the observation deck. A hiking trail seems to be taking shape and you’ll also notice a variety of bird houses. It looks like the area will continue to develop.
Here are a few birds I saw on my most recent visit:
Recently I visited Canoa Ranch Conservation Park to search for a particular bird and noticed more trails and plants at the ranch. The best part was access to the Juan Bautista De Anza Trail, north and south from the ranch. It is part of a 1,210 mile national historic trail and a wonderful way to move away from other park visitors while birding.
While walking around the park to get to the trail, I saw various water birds and others in the trees.
The bird I was looking for was reported to have been seen along the De Anza Trail; so off I went looking for it! Another birder was out looking too. All of a sudden I saw a bird fly in. At first glance it looked like a sage thrasher, not that I had ever seen one before! With binoculars and then sighted through my camera, I knew it was the bird!
Mission accomplished in sighting the bird. Eventually to return and walk more of the trail from this trailhead. Beautiful work being accomplished at this ranch!
In 1774, Juan Bautista de Anza was helped by American Indian guides to discover a land route from Mexico to California. Various times in my travel I noticed Juan Bautista trail signs, and now I know it is an auto tour marking the more than 1200 mile historic trail from Nogales, AZ to Monterey, CA which includes many historic sites. In 1775, Juan brought about 240 people across the new frontier of New Spain from Mexico to California. With military escort and 1000 head of livestock, the journey took 5.5 months for the settlers to complete.
The settlers camped at some historic places I have visited, such as Historic Canoa Ranch – campsite #15, Mission San Xavier del Bac – campsite #17, and Picacho Peak State Park – campsite #21. Someday I will visit other historic sites on this national historic trail. I walked a couple of miles of the trail in the Rio Rico area beginning at the Guy Tobin Trailhead.
A short distance from the trailhead there is a chained gate. It was a local man, Guy Tobin, who had the foresight and public support to contribute land and establish a 13 mile segment of trail from Rio Rico to Tubac. He worked with the Anza Trail Coalition and National Park Service. Guy Tobin died in 2008 and a few months later the trailhead was dedicated to him. In 2011, Friends of the Santa Cruz River and Tucson’s Watershed Management started a year-long project constructing rainwater harvesting features at the trailhead.
Once upon a time, there were Mexican wolves and jaguars here, but now one may see bobcat, coyote, javelina and mule deer. I was happy to photograph this mule deer!
It is a very sandy trail with plenty of birds singing in the trees. The only flower I saw was the southwestern prickly poppy.
It was a wonderful place to escape everyone and have a trail almost to myself. I saw 2 people the entire time!