Ultimate Guide to Historic Canoa Ranch Conservation Park

Canoa Ranch Conservation Park - View of the manmade lake and wildflowers

Raúl M. Grijalva Canoa Ranch Conservation Park is an excellent destination for hiking, birding, and learning about the history of Tucson and Green Valley, Arizona.

It is appropriate for all ages, from infants to the elderly, and is connected to the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, which is a 1,210 mile trail extending from Nogales to San Francisco!

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What is Historic Canoa Ranch?

Historic Canoa Ranch is a part of Raul M. Grijalva Canoa Ranch Conservation Park and was an active ranch from the Spanish colonial era. It began with the Ortiz brothers in 1821 and ended in 1968 when it was sold by the Manning family to a mining company. The saga does not end there. Then in the 1990s it was sold to Fairfield Homes for development.

Thankfully, Pima County recognized its historic importance, purchased the property, and began renovating it in the 2000s. The site sits on in the Santa Cruz River Watershed in the Santa Cruz Valley, which made accessing potable water possible. It is rumored that it received its name because someone put a hollowed out log, or La Canoa, over the area’s water source.

Historic Canoa Ranch was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The ranch itself consists of the following historic buildings:

  • La Cienega
  • Howell Manning Jr./Clare Schnaufer’s Residence
  • Guest House
  • Howard Manning Senior House
  • Foreman’s Home
  • Canal Head Gate
  • Grijalva Home
  • Retaque Corral
  • Blacksmith’s Shop and Tack Room
  • Restrooms

It is a popular destination for history buffs, birders, and hikers. Did you know that over 160 species of birds have been observed at this site?

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What do you need to know before visiting?

Canoa Ranch Conservation Park - View of the scrub brush and rattlesnake sign

The following areas of the park are technically open from dawn to dusk, seven days per week, and are never closed on holidays.

  • Canoa Lake
  • The Cienega
  • The pollinator garden
  • Access to the Anza Trail

The Historic Canoe Ranch compound and buildings are open Tuesday through Saturday from 8AM to 3PM. Tours are available every Saturday in May from 9:00-10:30 a.m. and every Saturday in June from 8:30-10:00AM.  Tours cost $5 and must be purchased online.

Parking is free and located right next to Canoa Lake and the Historic Canoa Ranch (also called Hacienda de la Canoa). Current hours of operation can be found on Pima County’s website.

It is located 30 minutes south of Tucson, Arizona in Green Valley, Arizona.

5375 S. I-19 Frontage Rd
Green Valley, AZ 85614

What should you do when you get to the Historic Canoa Ranch Conservation Park?

Our favorite activity is to hike around Canoa Lake and La Cienega. Canoa Lake is a small man-made reservoir that is a birding hotspot, especially in the spring and fall. It is a short, easy hike and is stroller friendly.

Many of the native plants are flagged with informational signs that are fun to read. Kids will love playing near the water and searching for animals (even lizards). You can also watch the pollinator garden for hummingbirds!

Adjoined to Canoa Lake is The Cienega, which in Spanish is the traditional wetland system native to the Sonoran desert area. This wetland was reintroduced after Canoa Lake was built. It is a fun opportunity to see what a traditional flowage would look like given many in the area have succumbed to development. There are some great, short, and stroller friendly hikes through the Cienega.

If you want a longer hike you can hop on the Juan Bautista de Anza trail, which stretches 1,200 miles from Nogales, Mexico to the San Francisco Bay are! You probably won’t want to hike that far, but at least you know there is plenty hiking available at Canoa Ranch Conservation Park for you and your kids!

Final thoughts on visiting Canoa Ranch Conservation Park with kids

Canoa Ranch Conservation Park - Beautiful native flowers overlooking the man-made resevoir

Canoa Ranch Conservation Park is an easy day trip from Tucson, or even easier if you are staying in Green Valley. The hiking is all accessible, safe, and flat, so perfect for kids and grandparents alike!

Please note though that the park is out in the desert. There is limited shaded opportunities outside the Ramadas that area available for rent. As a result, we would not recommend hiking here in the summer. You are better heading over to Madera Canyon during those sweltering months!

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