How To Spend A Day In Quirky Patagonia, Arizona

Travel Awaits (March 12, 2021) by Cindy Barks

Equal parts outdoor hotspot and artsy Western outpost, Patagonia, Arizona, packs an improbable number of fun attractions into its community of fewer than 900 people.

Located about 18 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, charming Patagonia is among the communities known as Sky Islands (Sonoita, Elgin, and Patagonia) for their relatively high elevation and adjacent mountain ranges.

While stories vary on how the nearby Patagonia Mountains got their name, one theory is that miners who had spent time in Chile and Argentina named the area after the famous mountains of South America. The story certainly seemed plausible to me after taking in the golden slopes and grasslands bordered by mountain peaks.

From Tucson, Patagonia can be reached either by heading south on Interstate 19, or by traveling east on Interstate 10, and then turning south onto the Sonoita-Patagonia Scenic Road, Highway 83.

A visit to Patagonia could be a day trip from Tucson, but a better idea is to spend several days exploring the Sky Island region and taking in Arizona Wine Country along the way.

Things To Do In Patagonia

Patagonia is often described as quirky, and the town more than lives up to the description with its brightly colored storefronts, unusual shops, and Western vibe.

Whether your passion is watching migratory birds, desert hiking, or browsing for souvenirs, Patagonia has an activity for you. Here are seven of the best.

4. Hike The Southern Terminus Of The Arizona Trail

The Arizona Trail cuts an 800-mile path across Arizona, south to north, from Mexico to Utah. Patagonia is the nearest town to the southern end of the trail, and the town bills itself as the southern terminus.

Visitors to Patagonia can easily get to a portion of the trail by driving along McKeown Street/Harshaw Road for about 3 miles and watching for an Arizona Trail parking lot. A sign at Patagonia Town Hall notes that the trail begins climbing immediately and offers lovely long views within a short distance.

Getting to the actual southern terminus on the Mexican border takes a bit more work. The Arizona Trail website gives directions to Montezuma Pass, located about 1.8 miles from the border. Through-hikers and cyclists on the trail often use Patagonia as a stopping-off and supply point.

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