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Arivaca is rolling grassland located 60 miles southwest of Tucson through some of the most spectacular scenery in Arizona. Quaint and quirky, the area is a geological, ecological and cultural treasure.
Surrounded by mountain ranges, Arivaca is a birding hotspot with the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in the center of town. Arivaca Lake is six miles down Ruby Road, enroute to the ghost town of Ruby.
Arivaca Creek and Mustang Trail provide hiking with abundant birds and wildlife.
At an elevation of 3,800', and positioned to capture weather rolling in from the South and West the climate is cooler and wetter than Tucson with highs ranging into the upper 90's and lows into the 20's. Rainfall ranges from 18-24 inches per year, most of which occurs during the summer monsoons.
To reach Arivaca, take I-19 south from Tucson. Take the Arivaca Rd., a paved, two lane road, 23 miles to the town site. Arivaca Rd. continues west 13 miles to Highway 286. Follow this highway 33 north miles through Three Points and onto the Ajo Highway. This beautiful loop drive passes through the Altar Valley with access to Brown Canyon and wonderful views of the Baboquivari Mountains.
With approximately 700 residents, Arivaca is home to a diverse and talented population that includes numerous descendants of area pioneer families. Many creative artistic ventures have evolved as well as numerous building and design explorations ranging from adobe block making to bamboo and alpaca cultivation, to cob building.
Works by some of the talented artists in the area are on display in the Arivaca Artists’ Co-op, Arivaca Ceramics and Cactus Rose Gallery. First Saturdays (from October-May) provide another venue for arts and crafts as well as themed special events. Year round, produce from Arivaca’s certified organic Community Garden is available for sale at Marian’s Farmers’ Market every Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon. Also available are a variety of other food items including homemade tamales, artisanal goat cheese, and locally produced honey from Stockwell Honey.
The Gadsden Coffee Company fresh roasts coffee and offers snacks and lunch. Sweet Peas Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch; serving dinner on Saturday nights.
The Arivaca Connection newspaper keeps locals and friends updated on current activity.
Early settlers are believed to be Hohokam Indians, followed by Pima or Tohono O'odham. Father Kino put Arivaca on the map in 1695 when he established a visita. The first European rancher in the area was Antonio de Rivera in the 1740's but after the Pima Revolt in 1752 the area was abandoned. In the early 1800s the Ortiz family resumed ranching. In 1853, the Gadsden Purchase brought Arivaca into the United States. The Sonora Exploring and Mining Company worked silver mines in the area until 1861 but there were continuing challenges with the Apaches. When mining development resumed, Pedro Aguirre made Arivaca a stop on his stage line from Tucson to Altar, Sonora, Mexico. He built the first schoolhouse at his own expense in 1879. In 1878 a Post Office was established during a short-lived mining boom. Cattle ranching followed and was the primary business until World War II. Arivaca had a small population until the Trico Electric Cooperative power lines arrived in the valley in 1956. In 1972 the Arivaca Ranch sold 11,000 acres to a land developer who subdivided the property into 40-acre parcels. Four years later, the dirt Arivaca Road was paved.
In the 1980s and 1990s many new residents moved into the area, the result of available homesites and a new chronology of events that included the formation of a medical clinic, fire department, arts council, human resource office, community center and branch of Pima County Public Library.
In 2012 the community celebrated the naming of the Arivaca Schoolhouse, the oldest standing schoolhouse in the state, to National Register of Historic Places. Locals banded together and repurposed a former nursing home into the Arivaca Action Center with a focus on education, the arts, wellness, hospitality and sustainability. The AAC offers space for meetings, overnight guests, gardening, and physical therapy.
Caviglia-Arivaca Branch of Pima County Public Library, 520-594-5239.
- County: Pima
- Year of Incorporation: Not incorporated
- Elevation: 3,800
- Population: 700