The Arivaca Cienega trail is a dog-friendly nature path that loops through Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, a 118,000-acre preserve located 60 miles south of Tucson. What sets this paw-path apart is that it traverses a Cienega, a rare desert marsh fed by springs. This unique habitat makes the preserve a vital breeding ground for many types of subtropical fowl. The refuge draws bird-watchers from all over, and is recognized for its conservation efforts by the Audubon Society. One species the park is working hard to protect is the endangered masked bobwhite quail -- visitors are asked to report any sightings of this bird to a park ranger.
The smooth surface and lack of inclines make this path wheelchair- and stroller-friendly, allowing the whole pack to join in for this adventure! As you set off about your furry way, the path will transition from concrete to a railed boardwalk that meanders above the desert wetlands and cattail marshes. Two observation decks offer visitors excellent views of the desert ponds, one of which boasts two telescopes, including a lowered telescope for kids and wheelchair-bound guests. As you continue, you will pass through the groves of hackberry and mesquite trees that provide nesting sites for the many birds that call the refuge home.
This park is furrific year-round, but the meadows are extra spectacular in the spring when the desert wildflowers begin to bloom. The park can be busy on the weekends, so consider planning your visit for a weekday. The trailhead is located by the parking area and has restrooms and two picnic shelters (including one that is wheelchair-accessible). You will need to bring doggie waste bags for when your pooch decides to leave his mark. As always, leave nothing behind and take nothing but pictures! We are sure you will enjoy this walk just as much as your pup (if not more)!