Frequently Asked Visiting Questions

Frequently Asked Visiting Questions

For all general inquiries about LCNCA including group activities, permits or general land use, call Bureau of Land Management Tucson Field Office, (520) 258-7200, located at 3201 E. Universal Way, Tucson, AZ 85756. Hours: Monday through Friday, 8am-4pm. Information is also provided on the BLM Las Cienegas NCA website.

Please Note: Portions of Las Cienegas National Conservation Area are closed due to the recent Sawmill Fire.  Areas south and west of the 900 road are now open. The public may access the Empire Ranch Headquarters through the main entrances off highways 82 and 83. However, the Heritage Discovery Trail, all parts of the Empire Gulch, and all other burned areas remain closed for further emergency stabilization and rehabilitation.  Click here for maps and more information.

Frequently asked questions about visiting Las Cienegas National Convervation Area (LCNCA)

How do I get to the LCNCA and the Empire Ranch?

Click here for directions and a map.

Do I need a permit to visit LCNCA?

Permits are generally not required to visit the National Conservation Area. However, commercial, competitive, and large organized group events require a special recreation permit. Permits are generally required if the group number is over 29, or if the activity needs BLM oversight or will have an impact to public lands and people.  Click here for more information on permitting.

Where can I obtain a map of the LCNCA?

Maps are available at the BLM’s Tucson Field Office and the Visitor Contact Station at the Empire Ranch.

When can I visit?

Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (LCNCA) and the Empire Ranch Headquarters are open to the public 365 days a year.  We recommend visiting during daylight hours, since the buildings and yards have no artificial lighting.

Please Note:  The Empire Ranch House will be inaccessible starting in May 2017 as it undergoes stabilization.  The rest of the buildings at Headquarters, including the Visitor Contact Station, will remain accessible during this construction which is expected to last throughout 2017.

The Empire Ranch Foundation partners with the Bureau of Land Management’s Tucson Field Office to help promote preservation and education at the Empire Ranch Headquarters and Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. For questions about Empire Ranch Foundation activities, call 888-364-2829, or email, admin@empireranchfoundation.org.

Is the Empire Ranch Headquarters ADA accessible?

Some of the rooms at the historic Empire Ranch headquarters are wheel-chair accessible through the front breezeway (zaguán) entrance; the public restrooms are wheel-chair accessible. The terrain around the Empire Ranch headquarters is primarily dirt with uneven surfaces that can be challenging for some mobility scooters.

Are there tours of the Empire Ranch Headquarters?

The Empire Ranch Foundation provides tours on the second and fourth Saturday of the month at 11am. For more information, click here. For large, private group tours, you may need a Bureau of Land Management Special Recreation Permit (SRP). Click  “Do I need a Permit?” for details.

What are among the visitor activities?

Favorite visitor activities include wildlife viewing, picnicking, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, historic site touring, hunting, photography and scenic drives. There are no picnic tables/chairs; visitors may bring their own.

Can I bring my dog? Does my dog have to be on a leash?

Yes, dogs are allowed, however it is advised to keep dogs on a leash. Be mindful that there is a catchall law about creating a public nuisance or hazard if your dog interferes with other’s enjoyment of the area. Dogs must be on a leash during Pronghorn Fawning season (April 1-June 30) in Pronghorn fawning areas.

Where can I hike?

If you call or visit the BLM/Tucson Field Office, (520) 258-7200, they have maps available that can provide the information you need, including road and trail details. Hiking is allowed throughout LCNCA. There is a .5 mile hike through the Heritage Discovery Trail at Empire Ranch Headquarters. Most LCNCA back roads make good hiking trails. Oak Tree canyon just north of Headquarters connects to the Arizona Trail, three miles east on the Coronado National Forest.

Is horseback riding permitted?

Horseback riding is allowed throughout LCNCA, cross Cienega Creek and Empire Gulch at cement crossings.  More information is available through Bureau of Land Management/Tucson Field Office. For specific questions about group activities, permits or general land use, contact:  BLM Tucson Field Office, 520-258-7200.

When is hunting allowed? What can I hunt?

Arizona Game and Fish Department manages hunting. There are several types of hunts for deer, javelina and other animals. The Arizona Game and Fish determines all hunting seasons, and a hunting license is required. More information can be found on the Arizona Game & Fish website.

Can I bring my off-road vehicle?

Off Highway Vehicles (OHV) vehicles are allowed on roads only, not in washes or off-road (except for 49 wash road – a 4×4 wash route). High-speed dirt bikes are not recommended due to the low speed limits posted. The speed limit within LCNCA is 25 mph. All OHV users must follow the OHV rules posted on the Arizona Game & Fish website.

Is there drinking water?

Yes there is drinking water in the water faucets at Empire Ranch Headquarters and at the Airstrip recreation group site.

Can I camp overnight? Are there RV hookups?

Overnight camping is allowed in designated camping areas or out on backcountry roads in dispersed sites. There are no RV hook ups.

Are fires allowed?

Normally fires are allowed on Las Cienegas NCA, but not within the Empire Ranch Headquarters area without special permission from BLM.

Where can I find nearby camping or lodging?

Primitive camping is allowed and does not require a permit. Camping may not exceed 14 consecutive days. Visitors must camp away from cattle and wildlife water holes. Campers need to bring water and firewood. The nearest lodging is available in Sonoita, five miles south on Highway 83, and in Patagonia. Campfires are allowed, except during periods of extreme fire danger. There are restrooms just adjacent (north) of the Empire Ranch Headquarters, and at the “Airstrip Recreation Group Site”.

Where are nearest location for food and supplies?

A gas station and a variety of restaurants and services are located in the town of Sonoita, AZ, seven miles south from the Highway 83 turnoff to Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, or three miles west of the southern entrance off of Highway 82.

Where are available First Aid or Emergency Services?

First aid is available at the Sonoita Elgin Fire Department, (520) 455-5854. The nearest hospitals are located in Sierra Vista, about 40 miles southeast or Tucson, approximately 50 miles northwest. The only Level 1 Trauma Center in Southern Arizona is Banner University Medical Center–Tucson. Call 911 for all emergencies.