Tumacácori National Historical Park

Southern Arizona

Three miles south of Tubac, this pink-and-cream edifice shimmers in the desert like a missionary's dream. In 1691 Father Eusebio Kino and his cohorts arrived at the Tumacácori settlement and quickly founded a mission to convert the local American Indians. However, repeated Apache raids and the harsh winter of 1848 drove the community out, leaving the complex to crumble for decades. For self-guided tours of the hauntingly beautiful ruins start at the visitor center. Ask for the free booklet.

Wander through the cool church and mission grounds, pause at the thorny gravesites and inspect the small museum. An impressive mass is held here during the Tumacácori Fiesta, a celebration of native crafts, food and music held the first weekend of every December. Check the website for dates and times for river walks (January to March), bird walks (October to April), family sleepovers in the mission and more. Guided tours are also available to the nearby Calabazas and Guevavi Missions, normally closed to the public.

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