Saturday, April 19, 2014
The Empire Ranch at Las Cienegas National Conservation Area
Las Cienegas National Conservation Area Website, we were certain that camping was allowed, so we loaded up and off we went. We found ourselves at the Road Canyon Primitive Camping area and had the place to ourselves. The amazing thing about southeast Arizona is the complete lack of competition for good camping areas when it's nice out. There are a few places like Pinery Canyon in the Chiricahuas, or the west face of the Dragoon Mountains that pretty much always have people camping there, but outside of that you can find a great place to camp pretty easily and as likely as not have the place to yourselves. If this was Utah or Colorado, there would have been other campers, but as it was, we enjoyed a nice quiet evening listening to the coyotes yapping outside our tent.
Empire Ranch Foundation. I really like the west side of the Whetstone Mountains and the grasslands down this way. It's amazing how varied the landscape is here in the area. There are other things to see that we didn't get to, but the Empire Ranch Headquarters is the main attraction here. I heard that somewhere out this way is a cabin that the BLM or Forest Service used to rent out to overnight guests, but the drug cartels pretty much monopolized the place, so the BLM/Forest Service stopped renting the place out. It would be fun to go track it down, along with another cabin or two out here. There also were a few John Wayne westerns shot here on the ranch. I need to find out what ones they were and try to recognize the locations in the film and match the site today. There's always more out there to see and do!
Nearest City: Sonoita, AZ
Location: N° W°
Time Needed: a few hours to all day
Kid Friendly: yes