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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tumacacori National Historic Park

Back in March 2012 we stopped at Tumacacori and had a great visit.  We had such a good time then, we knew we had to come back.  In fact, I think Tumacacori is one of our favorite places in Southern Arizona.  Tumacacori is a National Park Service site about an hour south of Tucson.  It's about 15 miles or so north of Nogales and the border with Mexico.  In our two visits, we've never been overwhelmed by crowds, and have had fun wandering the grounds of the old Spanish mission. 
Just inside the walls is a courtyard garden that is amazing.  The small fountain, fruit trees, and flowers are all placed to make a cozy and inviting atmosphere.  I think my wife secretly has this place stashed away in her brain as a place to model our backyard after.  We stop for a while to enjoy the ambiance and look for butterflies and hummingbirds visiting the flowers. 
The park was established in 1908 to protect the ruins of the old church.  The church is still in disrepair and undergoing varying levels of restoration and preservation.  As we quietly wandered through and read the wayfinding signs, we learned about the building of the mission, adversities faced by the inhabitants, subsequent abandonment, and trailing vandalism of the building.  One of the signs even talks about cowboys camping in the room the priests used to store their robes.  The thick mud brick walls leave the church cool in the summer, it's mass great enough to keep the heat at bay.
Our kids really liked participating in the unique Junior Ranger program.  It led us out behind the church to the old cemetery, with it's small funeral chapel in the middle of it.  We wandered on and had a great tour.  Pounding and grinding with the metates and manos at a small brush building (kee)were another highlight for the kids. 

This visit didn't have the tortilla and frijole making demonstration that we had at our first visit.  Usually there is a cultural demonstration with an old Mexican couple making tortillas over a mesquite coal fire then wrapping beans inside them for donations.  Yum! 

Tumacacori is a great place to visit.  With the evening coming, we packed up and made a quick stop at the Santa Cruz Chili and Spice Co across the street, then headed for home. It had been a great trip, but the adventure had one last twist to throw our way. Somewhere between Nogales and Sierra Vista we slowed down to allow a deer to finish crossing the road when a second doe jumped out of the bushes and ran smack into our rear quarterpanel.  It flopped over, jumped up, and ran off across a field.  We were glad it didn't do anything more than just a small dent.  I'm sure the deer had a great story it's friends will tire of someday..."Let me tell you about the time I was crossing this road..."

Nearest City: Tumacacori, AZ
Location: 1891 E. Frontage Road, Tumacacori, AZ  85640
Time Needed: 2+ hours
Difficulty: Easy
Kid Friendly: Yes
Additional Info:

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