San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area

The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (NCA) contains almost 57,000 acres of public land in Cochise County, Arizona, between the international border and St. David, Arizona. Congress designated the riparian area as a Riparian National Conservation Area on November 18, 1988. Some 40 miles of the upper San Pedro River meanders through the area. 

The primary purpose for the special designation is to protect and enhance the desert riparian ecosystem, a rare remnant of what was once an extensive network of similar riparian systems throughout the American Southwest. The San Pedro River runs through the Chihuahuan Desert and Sonoran Desert in southeastern Arizona. It contains one of the most important riparian areas in the United States. 

More than 80 species of mammals, two native species and several introduced species of fish, more than 40 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 100 species of breeding birds call the river home. It also provides invaluable habitat for 250 species of migrant and wintering birds and contains archaeological sites showing remnants of human occupation from 13,000 years ago.


The San Pedro Riparian NCA is 6 miles east of Sierra Vista, Arizona. From Tucson, take Interstate 10 east 40 miles to Arizona Route 90. Follow the highway south through Huachuca City to Fry Boulevard in Sierra Vista. Follow this street for six miles east until you reach the San Pedro House. 

You can also get to San Pedro Riparian NCA via:

  • Arizona Route 80, near St. David;
  • Arizona Route 82 to Fairbank;
  • Charleston Road to Millville Historic Townsite;
  • Hereford Road to Hereford Bridge; and
  • Arizona Route 92 to Palominas.

Visitor Activities 

The area provides opportunities for wildlife viewing including birdwatching, picnicking, primitive camping, prehistoric and historic site visiting, hunting, hiking, fishing, biking, horseback riding, guided hikes, interpretive site visitation, and weekend children’s programs.

You can find parking, interpretive kiosks, and trailheads at Fairbank, Murry Springs, San Pedro House, Land Corral, Terrenate, Millville, and Hereford Bridge.

Parking and trailheads are also available at Hereford Road, Charleston Road, Palominas, Terrenate, Escapule, and Lehner. 

Birdwatching is best in the spring and fall.

Guided Walks

The Friends of the San Pedro River lead guided walks:

  • Every Saturday at 8 a.m. - Guided nature walks and history walks starting at San Pedro House
  • Second Wednesdays and fourth Saturdays at 7 a.m. - Bird Walks starting at San Pedro House

Please call ahead for the schedule of guided walks, hikes and children’s programs. The San Pedro gift shop and bookstore is open 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. daily.

Historical Features

The national conservation area features the intact remains of the Spanish Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrenate, a fortress marking the northern extension of New Spain into the New World. The Murray Springs Clovis Site is a significant archaeological resource that contains evidence of the earliest known people to inhabit North America. An interpretive trail leads visitors to the site. The area also features the ruins of the old mining town of Fairbank. The San Pedro House, a 1930s-era converted ranch house, serves as a bookstore and visitor center.


You'll find picnic facilities inside San Pedro Riparian NCA at Fairbank and at the San Pedro House.

Camping and Lodging

Only backcountry camping is available; you must have a permit. You can get permits any time from the self-service pay stations at visitor parking areas. Camping in parking areas is prohibited. Lodging is available in Sierra Vista, Tombstone, and Bisbee.

Food and Supplies

You can get food and supplies in these nearby communities:

  • Sierra Vista
  • Tombstone
  • Whetstone
  • Bisbee
  • Hereford
  • Palominas

Permits, Fees, Limitations

  • Day use throughout the national conservation area is free; you don't need a permit.
  • You must have a permit for overnight backcountry camping. Permit fees are $2 per person per night. You may have a campfire only in designated areas. Camping is limited to seven consecutive nights in any one location, unless otherwise authorized.
  • Commercial operators must secure special authorization prior to their planned visit.
  • You may use a firearm only for regulated hunting, and only in certain areas. You must have a hunting permit from the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Contact the BLM for specific information on hunting.


San Pedro House has wheelchair-accessible restrooms. Other accessible trails are under construction.

First Aid

There is no first aid on site. The nearest hospital is in Sierra Vista.

Safety Information

The San Pedro River is subject to seasonal flooding, and summer monsoons are common.  The region is a travel corridor for illegal immigrants traveling from Mexico. Please report all suspected illegal activities to BLM or local law enforcement authorities. Avoiding contact with people exhibiting suspicious behavior or engaged in dangerous activities.

Hunting in the SPRNCA

The current San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Resource Management Plan, approved in July 2019, allows discharge of firearms or other weapons for year-round hunting throughout the SPRNCA except within ¼-mile safety zones around developed sites and areas, and within ¼ mile from associated recreation facilities (totaling 5,410 acres), in accordance with Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) hunting regulations and public land regulations for developed sites and areas (see interactive map). The SPRNCA includes parts of Game Management Units 30B, 34B and 35A.Target shooting remains prohibited. Hunting is subject to all the rules and regulations of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. 

Information including maps with ¼-mile safety zone information are available at access point signs and kiosks, online on this page for download; in person as handouts at visitor contact stations, and by calling or emailing the BLM at 520-258-7200 or  

Anyone witnessing a hunting violation should immediately contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department 1-800-352-0700. Safety zone and OHV violations and vandalism should be immediately reported to BLM Dispatch 1-800-637-9152, and incidents that pose an immediate danger to life should be immediately reported via 911, or to the Cochise County Sheriff at 520-432-9500. 

For Kids

Agents of Discovery

Agents of Discovery is a free, educational, mobile gaming app that gets families and youth active, engaged, while learning about the world around them. Sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management and the Friends of the San Pedro River.

Graphic of a roadrunner wearing a shirt with a BLM logo saying hey kids see you at the river.
How to Get Started
  1. Download the free “Agents of Discovery” app from Google Play or the Apple App Store. 
  2. Missions are available for the San Pedro House, Fairbank Historic Townsite, and Murray Springs Clovis Site. 
  3. Once you are at the site, open the “Agents of Discovery” app, select “Missions”,  and then the Mission for that site. 
  4. You can also login to create an account where you can save your activity. 

Email questions to, or call 520-459-2555.

Quick Links

Quick Facts

Plan Your Visit

For Kids

SPRNCA Access Maps

Other Maps

Manager's Reports


Contact Us

San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area 

4070 South Avenida Saracino 
Hereford, AZ 85615 
(520) 439-6400

Tucson Field Office