Nogales to Tucson

Basin and Range

Distance (miles)

Nogales Elevation (feet)

Tucson Elevation (feet)

The surviving sections of historic US Route 89 from Nogales to Tucson are parallel to Interstate 19 which was completed in 1978. The highway parallels the Santa Cruz River in a broad valley between high mountain ranges through the Sonoran Desert. This section of highway 89 is notable for several historic sites related to early Spanish exploration and settlement and is part of the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Area.

Special Attractions

Tumacacori Highlands Wilderness

Tumacacori Highlands Wilderness


Take the Ruby Road exit from I-19 and drive west to access this area of mountains, valleys and canyons. Fishing and camping is available at Pena Blanca Lake. Sycamore Canyon in the Pajarita Wilderness is a hidden gem of lush riparian habitat. For a panoramic view of the southern Arizona landscape, hike to the abandoned fire lookout on the summit of Atascosa Mountain.

Tumacacori National Historic Park

Tumacacori National Historic Park


Tour the ruins of Mission San José de Tumacácori established in 1691 and learn about Spanish exploration and colonization in the Visitors Center. Artisans demonstrate traditional crafts including paper flower making, Mexican reverse-glass painting, O’odham basketry, pottery, and tortilla making.

Tubac Presidio State Historic Park

Tubac Presidio State Historic Park


Home to the ruins of the oldest Spanish military fort in Arizona, San Ignacio de Tubac. Artifacts on display shed light on how the Native American and Spanish peoples may have lived. Explore a Commandant’s quarters, a Territorial Schoolhouse, and an adobe rowhouse while learning Spanish Colonial history.

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Mission San Xavier del Bac


Inspired by European cathedrals built in the eighteenth century, visitors to the San Xavier mission will marvel at its ornate interior and can learn more about the oldest Spanish Colonial structure in Arizona at the Mission’s museum or on a free tour. Undergoing restoration. Daily mass is offered.

View photo galleries of special attractions along Historic Highway 89 between Nogales and Tucson…

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Towns, Cities and Reservations

Rio Rico
Green Valley
San Xavier Reservation
Pasqua Yaqui Reservation

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Public Lands and Historic Places

Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Area
Coronado National Forest
Tumacacori Highlands Proposed Wilderness
Atascosa Lookout Trail
Pajarita Wilderness
Tumacacori National Historic Park
Tubac Presidio State Historic Park
Santa Rita Mountains-Mt. Wrightson Wilderness
San Xavior Mission



Santa Cruz River
Atascosa Mountains
San Cayetano Mountains
Tumacacori Mountains
Santa Rita Mountains
Sierrita Mountains

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