Ride Your Own Horse
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.