The Airstrip Group Site is one of several recreation sites in Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (NCA). This 15-acre, former dirt airstrip is nestled in mesquite trees and open grassland and offers diverse recreation opportunities such as horseback riding and bird-dog trials.
Improvements are being made to the site to accommodate large or small groups and day-use parking. It will serve as a trailhead to the Arizona Trail’s Santa Rita Mountains Passage segment, located three miles to the west along Oak Tree Canyon. The day-use parking is for all day users partaking in activities outside the Airstrip Group Site staging area with no fee required, but the official staging area is reserved for Special Recreation Permit (SRP) holders only.
The Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (NCA) can be enjoyed year-round since each season provides opportunities to enjoy the unique features of the NCA’s landscape.
This site is part of the Las Cienegas NCA, located north of Sonoita, AZ. To access the NCA, travel along State Road 83, turn east near mile marker 40 into the NCA entrance. Drive four miles along dirt roads to the BLM road marker LC 901 and LC 902 road junction.
Picnicking, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and photography. This is a popular site for staging organized events. Motorized activities are allowed on designated roads.
Livestock water is available for animals during group events and day use. The water may also be used in all organized group activities including animal staging events like horse endurance rides and bird-dog trials. The restroom is also available for all users.
Permits, Fees, Limitations
The site contains two separate areas: the south section is day-use parking with no overnight camping; there are no fees for day-use parking. The fenced north section is the actual staging area for the designated group site where overnight camping is allowed for SRP holders. Applications for a permit must be received by the BLM Tucson Field Office at least six months in advance of the event date. The general fee for an SRP is $5 per person/per day. No other passes or permits are necessary.
A four-wheel drive or high clearance vehicle is not required to access the site. The Airstrip Group Site allows motorized use on the designated roads. The restrooms are wheel chair accessible; however, the staging area and trails from the staging area leading to the restrooms currently are not. Plans are underway to develop an accessible path from the day-use and SRP parking areas to the restroom.
Camping and Lodging
Dispersed camping is available on public lands; campers should choose previously disturbed sites to reduce impacts. Several small hotels and bed-and-breakfasts are located in Sonoita and Patagonia. A listing of nearby lodging can be found at the Sonoita-Elgin Chamber of Commerce
. Larger lodging facilities are located in Sierra Vista, 35 miles away, and Tucson, approximately 50 miles away.
Food and Supplies
Several convenience stores and restaurants are seven miles south in Sonoita. Major grocery stores are in Sierra Vista and Tucson.
The nearest emergency care is available in Sierra Vista, at the Sierra Vista Regional Health Center. The nearest level 1 trauma care center is in Tucson, at the University Medical Center. Trauma injuries include bone fractures, internal bleeding and brain injuries.
The site is undergoing additional improvements. The area is an active grazing pasture for cattle several times a year.
Las Cienegas National Conservation Area
Manager: Vi Hillman
3201 E. Universal Way
Tucson, AZ 85756
Phone: (520) 258-7200