Spotlight: Tumacácori National Historical Park
A Celebration of Southwestern Cultures Past and Present
What You’ll Find
Spanish mission ruins, The Juan Bautista de Anza 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, Tohono O'odham basket weaving, Mexican paper-flower making, and leather working. In January through March, reserve your spot on one of the guided tours to visit two little-known associated mission ruins administered by the park that are normally closed to the public.
Tumacácori National Historical Park is located in Tumacacori, Arizona off Exit 29 of Interstate 19, 50 miles (80.5 km) south of Tucson and 18 miles (29 km) north of Nogales. The Visitor Center and Museum are located at 1891 East Frontage Road, 85640.
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. 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.
A visit to Tumacácori National Historical Park is pleasurable during any season of the year, because the mesquite grassland temperatures are five to ten degrees cooler than Tucson or Phoenix. Visit the park website to learn about special events and things to do, and remember to book your guided tour on Recreation.gov.