San Pedro Riparian
National Conservation Area
The San Pedro River
There's almost 57,000 acres of public land contained within the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, stretching along the lower reaches of the San Pedro River Valley from the Mexico/US Border north to St. David, Arizona. The riparian zone here is about 40 miles long, strung out along the San Pedro River as it meanders across Chihuahuan and Sonoran desert. This stretch of the San Pedro River is home to at least 84 species of mammals, 41 species of reptiles, 14 species of fish and more than 100 species of local birds. More than 250 species of migratory and wintering birds also "live" here.
Archaeologists have come across human-built ruins on the property that date back as much as 13,000 years. A more recently built (and then abandoned) property on the San Pedro Riparian NCA is the Spanish Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrenante, the northernmost Spanish outpost in Arizona. Another significant archaeological resource is the Murray Springs Clovis Site, a place where Clovis points (arrowheads) were found, signaling the presence of Clovis people in this area maybe 13,000 years ago. There is a trail with interpretive signage leading to the site. Also on the property is the ghost mining town of Fairbank. The Visitor Center is the San Pedro House, a 1930's era refurbed and converted ranch house that also offers a gift shop/bookstore.
Day use on the property is free with no permits required. Overnight camping is backcountry camping, requires a permit and costs $2 per night per person, with a 7-day stay limit in any one place. Permits are available at the "self-serve pay stations" you'll find at every parking area. Camping in the parking areas is not allowed. There are universally accessible restrooms at the San Pedro House. There are picnic facilities at the San Pedro House and at the site of Fairbank. The San Pedro River is subject to seasonal and flash flooding, especially during summer monsoon season. Birdwatching in this area is best in the spring and fall. San Pedro House also seasonally offers children's programs, guided walks and hikes.
San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area
San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area area map