Spotlight: Tumacácori National Historical Park
Like a Burrito: A Celebration of Southwestern Cultures Past and Present
Tumacácori National Historical Park is located in Tumacacori, Arizona off Exit 29 of Interstate 19, fifty miles south of Tucson and eighteen miles north of Nogales. The Visitor Center and Museum are located at 1891 East Frontage Road, 85640.
What You’ll Find
Spanish mission ruins, a national historic trail commemorating an 18th century pioneering expedition to San Francisco Bay, a rare riparian environment and local hospitality. Visit the impressive and silent remains of Tumacácori Mission’s church. Explore the mission grounds via a self-guided interpretive trail or on a docent-led walk. On select days in fall through spring, artisans demonstrate traditional crafts including tortilla making, O'odham basket weaving, Mexican paper-flower making, and leather working. In January through March, guided tours provide opportunities to visit two little-known associated mission ruins administered by the park that are normally closed to the public.
La Fiesta de Tumacácori is a two-day celebration held annually during the first full weekend in December. La Fiesta showcases traditions of the many cultures that were historically and are currently in the region. Fifty food and craft booths, continuous live entertainment on stage, and children's activities are featured. On Sunday, the day begins with a multi-cultural procession through the Fiesta grounds to the historic church, followed by a traditional Mariachi Mass. The park offers free admission during the event.
When you sample a delicious burrito, hand made by one of the park’s tortilla making demonstrators, consider that you are eating history! Europeans imported the wheat used for the tortillas from the Eastern Hemisphere. The beans commonly used in Mexican cooking are native to the Americas, as are the chiles and tomatoes used to make salsa. Burritos would not exist had these cultures not come together.
The people who lived here before the Europeans arrived and those that resided in the missions did not disappear. Many area residents are descended from O’odham, Yaqui, Apache, Spanish, and other inhabitants of centuries past. As you look around, you may notice that many regional traditions of the past live on with a modern flair.
Fees at Work
Park visitors enjoy the benefits of two projects funded by National Park entrance fees. In 2009, the museum was refurbished with engaging new exhibits and updated information. The fully accessible trail throughout the Tumacácori Mission ruins and to the orchard was completed in spring 2012.
Plan your visit! Located above the heat of the low desert, Tumacácori National Historical Park is in the mesquite grasslands where temperatures are five to ten degrees cooler than Tucson or Phoenix. A visit to this moderate climate is pleasurable during any season of the year.