Corbitt's National Parks
                   National Historical Site


1908: National Monument

1990: National Historical Park

Size: 360 acres

2008 visitors: 45,079

Stamp: Yes

Rating (1-5):

About the Monument

Over 300 years ago, Jesuit Eusebio Kino and his party arrived in the Pima settlement of Tumacacori. There, he founded the mission San Cayetano de Tumacacori on the east bank of the Santa Cruz River. From that day in 1691 and for the next 150 years, the Jesuits and then the Franciscans carried on the work of the mission. They fought off attacks from Pimas and Apaches, they endured the ravages of European diseases and a lack of financial support, but managed to erect an impressive church during the tumultuous 1800's.

Though the church was never finished, it nevertheless has endured as a symbol of Spanish influence in the New World.

What You're Going to See

There are actually three sites in the Site: only Tumacacori is generally open to the public. The missions of Calabasas and Guevavi can be visited only on a guided tour, arranged in advance. Tumacacori's church is the main attraction of this Site. It's still impressive, despite or perhaps because of its age. There is also a cemetary, a mortuary chapel, and portions of the convento area that may be visited during the self-guided tour. There's a patio garden adjacent to the visitor's center that gives a feel of how the priests may have relaxed during the heat of the southern Arizona day.

It's a small site, and visitors can easily walk around and tour it in an hour. While we were there, a lady was offering fresh-made flour tortillas with refried beans and my oh my were they good. They reminded me of Mexico, and indeed as I talked with her I learned her mother was Yaqui and her father was Mayan.

Personal Observations

This was a good Site to visit. Kids have plenty of open space to run around, and there are interesting things to see, including a church, the cemetary, and other primitive-looking buildings. The staff is helpful, and I can honestly say that about every National Park I've visited -- the staff is invariably polite, helpful, and eager to answer questions. I was delighted to practice my Spanish with the tortilla lady, and have some of her excellent food.

There's no extended hiking, the site is small and easy to get around. The visitors center is compact and neat, offering a minimum of trinkets, but our girls bought some pretty paper flowers. There are many books for sale, however. The only downside is the relative worth of this Site. That is, if delving in 300+ years of Spanish and Mexican and Arizonan history isn't your bag, you may want to give this a pass. Otherwise, sure, check it out and get your stamp!

Getting There

From Tucson, go south on I-19 toward Nogales for about 43 miles. Take exit #29, turn east and follow the signs to the Monument. It's only a mile down the road.

Nearby Attractions

100 miles west is Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. About 45 miles north are Saguaro National Park, and Ironwood Forest National Monument. About 40 miles northeast is Kartchner Caverns State Park, and 40 miles southwest is Coronado National Monument.

Visited December 2003.