Southern Arizona Sights



Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge Review

Remote Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, in the Altar Valley and encircled by seven mountain ranges, is the only place in the United States where the Sonoran–savanna grasslands that once spread over the entire region can still be seen. The fragile ecosystem was almost completely destroyed by overgrazing, and a program to restore native grasses is currently in progress. In 1985 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purchased the Buenos Aires Ranch—now headquarters for the 115,000-acre preserve—to establish a reintroduction program for the endangered masked bobwhite quail.

Bird-watchers consider Buenos Aires unique because it's the only place in the United States where they can see a "grand slam" (four species) of quail: Montezuma quail, Gambel's quail, scaled quail, and masked bobwhite. If it rains, the 100-acre Aguirre Lake, 1.5 miles north of the headquarters, attracts wading birds, shorebirds, and waterfowl—in all, more than 320 avian species have been spotted there. They share the turf with deer, coati, badgers, bobcats, and mountain lions. Touring options include a 10-mile auto tour through the area; nature trails; a 3.8-mile guided hike in Brown Canyon (offered 2nd and 4th Saturdays–call to sign up); a boardwalk through the marshes at Arivaca Cienega; and guided bird walks, also at Arivaca Cienega, on Saturdays at 8 am November through April.

    Contact Information

  • Address: AZ 286, at milepost 7.5 Sasabe, AZ 85633 | Map It
  • Phone: 520/823–4251
  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: Visitor center daily 7:30–4 Sept.–May and weekdays 7:30–4 June–Aug.; closed weekends June-Aug. Refuge open 24 hrs
  • Website:
  • Location: Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
Updated: 02-25-2013

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