Green Valley–Sahuarita, Arizona
Tucson is the starting point for many wondrous daytrips into Southern Arizona. You can reach the twin communities of Sahuarita and Green Valley, which share a border alongside the Santa Cruz Riverbed, in under 30 minutes by heading south from downtown on I-19. Or drive U.S. Route 89 for a more leisurely journey.
Sahuarita, one of the fastest-growing towns in America, is home to the Rancho Sahuarita planned community with its public fishing-friendly lake surrounded by a five-acre park. Sahuarita is where Green Valley Pecan Company, the world’s largest irrigated pecan orchard, operates a well-stocked Pecan Store and presents the Sahuarita Pecan Festival every November. Also here is Titan Missile Museum, a Cold War-era missile site and National Historic Landmark that offers must-see exhibits and one-of-a-kind tours.
The towns of Sahuarita and Green Valley are in the midst of the ecologically diverse Santa Cruz Valley. Largely rural with sparse traffic, these towns are near some of the best road cycling and mountain biking routes in Arizona. The Santa Cruz Valley Bicycle Advocate Committee’s website has more about this area’s wide-open roads and great climbing trails.
Treks to some of this area's top trails are led by the Town of Sahuarita Hiking Club. Especially popular is the West Desert Trails preserve, west of Green Valley. This 1,830-acre open space is traversed with unmaintained biking and hiking trails that vary in length and difficulty and provide incredible valley and mountain views. To access this area, register for a free permit on wdtrails.com.
Green Valley is a bustling retirement community and popular mild winter retreat. Golfers often get that legendary "Green Valley grin" while enjoying four public courses: Haven Public Golf Club, Quail Creek Country Club, San Ignacio Golf Club, and Torres Blancas Golf Club. The former Canoa Ranch Golf Course is being transformed into a natural open-space park.
Green Valley’s Community Performance & Art Center stages more than 100 concerts and live theater productions with a variety of art exhibitions annually, while the Green Valley Recreation Center presents a diverse performing arts series and hosts a seasonal FoodInRoot Heirloom Farmers Market.
Just south of Green Valley, Historic Canoa Ranch, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, offers tours and environmental education programs like bird walks and stargazing. Southeast of Green Valley, extraordinary nature trails begin at Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains, a world-renowned birding hotspot that attracts seasonal migrators and dozens of hummingbird species.
Adjacent to Madera Canyon on Mt. Hopkins is the Smithsonian Institution’s Whipple Observatory. A visitor center at the mountain base offers astronomy exhibits, tours, and a picnic area. Just beyond the visitor center, the Elephant Head mountain bike route awaits with a rugged 10-mile challenge.
More information: Green Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center; Town of Sahuarita.
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