Click Here to Donate to the Rincon Group
Join the Sierra Club

Tumacacori Highlands

Picture of Tumacacori Highlands (click for a larger view)

A Wild Island in Southern Arizona's Endless Sky

Broken lichen-drenched cliffs, undulating hills of oak savannahs, and spectacular rare wildlife combine to create a magical place in the Tumacacori Highlands (Tomb-a-cock-or-ee). The Highlands incorporate three mountain ranges that converge to create the largest remaining unprotected wildland in southern Arizona. Here, the Pajarito, Atascosa, and Tumacacori mountains creep north from Sky Island ranges in northern Mexico. This vast assemblage of wildlands and the traditional uses that occur here should remain unchanged, sustaining a resource that can forever be appreciated by future generations. Designating this area as Wilderness will secure this future.

Picture of Tumacacori Highlands (click for a larger view)

The Tumacacori Highlands play host to an incredible array of wild creatures - many of which do not occur anywhere else in the United States. Jaguars, elegant trogons, gray hawks, mountain lions, javelina, coati, and many more amazing animals call this area home. Not only do the Highlands offer prime habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife, they also provide sanctuary for over fifty plants and animals that are recognized as threatened, endangered or sensitive - one of the highest concentrations of vulnerable species in Arizona.

Map Location of Tumacacori Highlands (click for a larger view) Many species that live In sub-tropical climates, such as the five-stripped sparrow, Mexican vine snake, tropical kingbird, and of course, jaguar, reach their northern limits in the Tumacacori Highlands. Suspended plants growing on limbs, sub-tropical vines entangling trees, and trickling water streaming through shaded canyons give visitors a sense of walking in a timeless, tropical paradise.

From ancient cultures to modern life, people have depended upon the Tumacacori Highlands as a sanctuary, hideout, and home. Today, they also provide a refuge from busy lives led elsewhere. The Highlands provided essential resources for the Tumacacori Mission, begun in 1691 by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino - the first of its kind to be founded in Arizona. marking the Spaniards' first attempt at settling the region. Visitors may also find ancient grinding stones, petroglyphs, and pottery left by the Sobaipuri and Pima natives long ago. The rich history of people and places makes the Tumacacori Highlands a special place worth protecting. Increased pressures from population growth, off-road vehicles, Border Patrol activities, and the energy industry threaten to change the natural characteristics of the Highlands. Now is the time to act to preserve the current wild area and ensure that our natural and cultural history remains as it is - forever wild, as designated Wilderess.

View of the Vistas in Tumacacori Highlands From the spectacular views atop Atascosa Lookout and unparalleled scenes stretching far into the horizon, to the deep recesses of Peck Canyon and Hells Gate trickling with pools of precious water, the Tumacacori Highlands offer a world of adventure, beauty, and wildlife, unmatched in the Southwest.

Hikers can spend days exploring ridgetops and canyons ...

Hunters may search the hills and draws for deer...

History buffs may spend a lifetime looking for and learning about the rich Native American, Hispanic, and early Anglo artifacts still remaining...

And wildlife enthusiasts can revel in an area that boasts more wildlife and plants than inhabit some entire states.

To ensure for all future generations the wild character of the Tumacacori Highlands, concerned citizens have put together a proposal to grant lasting protection for this precious area. The lands within the Wilderness Area would be managed in a manner that permanently protects the historic and natural setting of the region far into the future.

Tumacacori Highlands

WILDERNESS ACTION: Here's how you can help!

Write to these key elected officials in Arizona! Thank you!
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D - AZ, 7th District) has agreed to sponsor a Wilderness bill in Congress. We want to thank him and also get the critical support of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D - AZ, 8th District) and Sen. John McCain (R - AZ). The goal is a bi-partisan team for Wilderness! Send a copy of your letter to Friends of Tumacacori Highlands, PO Box 8102, Tumacacori, AZ 85640, or email:

The Honorable Raul Grijalva
U.S. House of Representatives
1440 Longworth HOB
Washington D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2435
Fax:(202) 225-1541
Local: (520) 622-6788

The Honorable John McCain
U.S. Senate
241 Russell SOB
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone:(202) 224-2235
Fax:(202) 228-2862
Local: (520) 670-6334

The Honorable Gabrielle Giffords
U.S. House of Representatives
2266 Raybum HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone:(202) 225-2542
Local: (520) 881-3588

Write letters to the editor to help rally your friends and neighbors!

Nogales International
PO Box 579
Nogales, AZ 85621
(520) 281-9706
Published Tuesdays and Fridays

The Connection
PO Box 338
Arivaca, AZ 85601
(520) 398-2379
(520) 398-3025 fax
Published monthly

Green Valley News & Sun
PO Box 567
Green Valley, AZ 85622
(520) 625-8046 fax
Published Wednesday and

Arizona Daily Star
P.O. Box 26807
Tucson, AZ 85726-6807
(520) 573-4141 fax
Published daily

Tucson Citizen
P.O. Box 26767
Tucson, AZ 85726-6767
(520) 573-4569 fax
Published daily

Wilderness Facts: The last Wilderness bills for Arizona were in 1984 and 1990. They were sponsored by the late Rep. Mo Udall and -were signed into law by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr.

Talking Points for the Tumacacori Highlands Wilderness Proposal

  • Protects Arizona's largest unprotected national forest roadless area from road building, off-road vehicles, mining, and other degrading activities.
  • Protects habitat for magnificent species such as the jaguar, gray hawk, Chiricahua leopard frog, tropical kingbird and mountain lion.
  • Wilderness will ensure, in perpetuity, that this area remains wild and natural -just like it is now!
  • Wilderness will preserve cultural and historical sites.
  • You can do everything you want to do in Wilderness except ruin it: Hunt, hike, ride horses, camp and enjoy the wild areas free from roads and noise.
  • Twenty access roads will be maintained including Ruby Road and many Forest Service roads for reaching your favorite wild areas.

Friends of the Tumacacori Highlands • P.O. Box 8102 • Tumacacori, AZ 85640 or email us at, or call Matt at (520) 624-7080

Friends, Good News for the Tumacacori Highlands Wilderness!!

Please help us thank the Coronado Forest Supervisor for saving this special place.

On July 21, after years of disagreement over where to site a new Tucson Electric Power (TEP) transmission line, the U.S. Forest Service Regional Supervisor for the Coronado National Forest, Jeanine Derby, announced that she intends to reject the TEP’s plans to run a massive, 345,000-volt transmission line—enough power for 1 million people and designed primarily to serve lucrative Mexican power markets—through the untrammeled potential wilderness of the Tumacacori Highlands.

This proposed route would carve through the largest remaining Forest Service roadless area in southern Arizona, bisect a potential Wild and Scenic River, and include 20 miles of access road construction in prime jaguar habitat. In fact, confirmed jaguar sightings have occurred twice in this area since the ACC’s decision to propose the power line in 1999. The area is also designated critical habitat for the Mexican spotted owl.

The fight is not completely over, but we wish to thank Jeanine Derby for her foresight in protecting the Tumacacori Highlands from an ill-conceived project. Her decision is saving the citizens of Santa Cruz County not only millions of dollars in extra power bill surcharges, but also saving a special place for Southern Arizona citizens and visitors to hunt, hike, fish, and otherwise enjoy a unique wild land, and maybe—someday—spot a jaguar.

Please write your thank you letters to:

Jeanine Derby

USFS Supervisor-Coronado National Forest
300 W. Congress St.
Tucson, AZ 85701
Or call: 520-670-4552

On behalf of wilderness, thank you!