Empire Ranch Foundation
Explore Las Cienegas National Conservation Area

For all general inquiries about Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (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.

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

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.

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.

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.

The Empire Ranch Foundation provides tours on the second and fourth Saturday of the month at 11am; reservations are required. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

There is potable water next to the vault toilets  at Empire Ranch Headquarters.  The Airstrip recreation group site has non-potable water available.

Overnight camping is allowed in designated camping areas or out on backcountry roads in dispersed sites. There are no RV hook ups.  Camping is not allowed at Empire Ranch Headquarters.

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

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, seven 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”.

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.

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.