Coronado National Memorial

Walk in the footsteps of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado in this magnificent natural area just north of Mexico.

Spanish colonial exploration during the 1500s opened the way for later explorers and missionaries to colonize the Southwest. Coronado National Memorial marks the spot where Francisco Vásquez de Coronado’s expedition (1540-42) crossed into what is now Arizona. Coronado’s crew was intent on finding the mythical Seven Cities of Gold and expanding the territory of Spain into the New World.

Their trek through the arid valleys and rugged mountain ranges of the Sonoran Desert led to centuries of cultural influence with the establishment of missions and the introduction of farming techniques that changed the way indigenous people lived.

Backcountry Hiking

Eight miles of remote Arizona hiking trails lead visitors through flowy desert grasslands and rugged mountain forests. Start with the Coronado Cave Trail, a 1-mile roundtrip hike that features a limestone cavern that reaches 600 feet into the mountain. The short hike provides a good workout over rugged terrain with a 500-foot elevation gain. For a more difficult climb, the Crest Trail gains 4,000 feet of elevation to reach the summit of Miller Peak, the highest point in the Huachuca Mountains. Experienced hikers also enjoy the Yaqui Ridge Trail, a longer trek that ends at the international border and the southern terminus of the Arizona National Scenic Trail.

Scenic Drives

Four natural ecosystems overlap near Coronado National Memorial — Rocky Mountains, Sierra Madre Mountains, Sonoran Desert and Chihuahuan Desert. This mix of high desert and mountain pine forests sets the backdrop for scenic drives in Arizona. Start with Montezuma Pass, a steep drive that includes tight switchbacks on a graded dirt road that climbs to 6,500 feet. From there, survey the surrounding San Pedro River Valley and San Rafael Valley. Be on the lookout for many year-round and migratory bird species that make Southeast Arizona one of the top birding destinations on the planet. Sightings of roadrunners, quail, Mexican Jays, peregrine falcons, hummingbirds and vermillion flycatchers are common.

Visit Sierra Vista

With sprawling mountain views in all directions, Sierra Vista makes the perfect home base for a Southeast Arizona getaway. Day trips from Sierra Vista lead to other magnificent outdoor attractions in the area, such as Kartchner Caverns State Park, plus historic cities with colorful stories to tell. Visit the historic mining town of Bisbee, the devil-may-care outpost of Tombstone, the border arts community of Patagonia and the charming wine country hub of Sonoita.

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Cities & Regions

From the abundance of Saguaro cactuses and unique wildlife in the Sonoran Desert to the high country and forests of the White Mountains to the breathtaking Grand Canyon, Arizona’s regions are full of experiences that don’t disappoint.