Ride Your Own Horse

Trail Rider - - ARI­ZONA PAR­ADISE -

If you’d pre­fer to ride your own horse in south­ern Ari­zona, two ex­cel­lent op­tions are the Las Ciene­gas Na­tional Con­ser­va­tion Area and the Ken­tucky Camp Cabin and Head­quar­ters Build­ing, from which you can ride along the Ari­zona Na­tional Scenic Trail. Fall and spring are the best times to visit; check the weather con­di­tions in the sum­mer and win­ter. • Las Ciene­gas Na­tional Con­ser­va­tion Area. The Las Ciene­gas Na­tional Con­ser­va­tion Area, which in­cludes the his­toric Em­pire Ranch, is lo­cated 50 miles south­east of Tuc­son, ac­cessed off the east side of Ari­zona State Road 83 be­tween In­ter­state 10 and Sonoita, Ari­zona.

Turn east at the sign be­tween mile­post 40 and 39, off High­way 83. You can park at the old ranch build­ings three miles down a paved road. The Bu­reau of Land Man­age­ment man­ages the ranch­lands and nearby sur­round­ings to cre­ate a 45,000-acre semi-desert grass­land un­com­mon in Ari­zona.

The BLM has formed a part­ner­ship with the non­profit Em­pire Ranch Foundation (www.em­pir­eranch- foundation.org), which is ded­i­cated to pre­serv­ing the his­toric build­ings and sur­round­ing land­scapes.

This re­gion, known as the Em­pireCienega, of­fers miles of trail rid­ing across a scenic area rem­i­nis­cent of the Old West, where cat­tle are still grazed un­der a lease to lo­cal ranch­ers. Keep an eye out for Pronghorn an­te­lope, the sec­ond­fastest mam­mal in the world. Con­tact: Bu­reau of Land Man­age­ment/ Tuc­son Field Of­fice, (520) 258-7200; www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/NLCS/LasCiene­gasNCA.html. • Ken­tucky Camp Cabin and Head

quar­ters Build­ing. Ken­tucky Camp Cabin and Head­quar­ters Build­ing is an old min­ing camp sit­u­ated at about 5,000 feet above sea level in the Santa Rita Moun­tains near Sonoita, in the Coron­ado Na­tional For­est.

From here, you can ac­cess the Ari­zona Na­tional Scenic Trail, which stretches for 800 miles from the Mex­i­can bor­der to Utah. Take In­ter­state 10 to Exit 281 to­ward Sonoita. Go south on Ari­zona State Rd. 83 for 21.5 miles. Turn right onto For­est Rd. 92 (Gard­ner Canyon Rd.) at Way­point 001.

A short, easy trip of about 5 miles on a well-graded for­est road ac­ces­si­ble to horse rigs brings you to Ken­tucky Camp. Signs guide you from For­est Rd. 92 to For­est Rd. 163 and the Ken­tucky Camp park­ing area. You’ll see adobe build­ings that still re­main from the min­ing camp. You can rent a cabin overnight from the United States For­est Ser­vice. Con­tact: Ken­tucky Camp Cabin and Head­quar­ters Build­ing, (520) 2812296; http://tinyurl.com/hjqq2vu. Ari­zona Na­tional Scenic Trail, (520) 388-8328; www.fs.usda.gov/azt.

His­toric build­ings at the Em­pire Ranch in the Las Ciene­gas Na­tional Con­ser­va­tion Area, 50 miles south­east of Tuc­son, Ari­zona.

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