Tumacacori National Historical Park was the site of a Spanish mission, Misión San José de Tumacácori, established in 1691 by Jesuit priest Father Eusebio Kino in a different nearby location. It was established one day before Misión Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi, making it the oldest Jesuit mission site in southern Arizona. Kino established missions in the late 1600s throughout Northern Mexico and Southern Arizona, in what was then Spanish America, including Misión San Xavier del Bac southwest of and nearby to Tucson. The first mission was named Misión San Cayetano de Tumacácori, established at an existing native O'odham settlement on the east side of the Santa Cruz River. The partially restored church was built in the early 1700s. The priests made slaves of the native people, forced them to become Catholic Christians, and tried to deny them their culture and traditions. The native people were introduced to European foods and grew wheat, grapes, olives, and many other plants not native to the area. The basic native diet was, and to great extent remains, corn, beans and squash, also with tomatoes, amaranth, chiles (“peppers”) and many other native plants. There are often demonstrations of native foods at the park on weekends.
Tubac was established as a Spanish presidio, or fort, in 1752 to protect the area from Apache intrusions. Tubac was a stop on the Spanish royal road to California. From Wikipedia: “The remains of the old Spanish presidio are preserved by Tubac Presidio State Historic Park. The park also features a regional museum, an underground archeology display, and other historic buildings. Modern Tubac is home to over 100 art galleries, home decor boutiques, gift shops, jewelers, potters, artists of every kind. There is a very active Art school, many gourmet restaurants, and a golf resort nestled along a verdant valley with one of the oldest stands of cottonwoods in the state.” Tubac has very well-attended art festivals in November and February, the former since 1964. The arts and crafts available in Tubac are very diverse, and include many items from Mexico as well as local artists and craftspeople.
9:00 am – Pickup.
9:30 am – Leave Tucson.
10:00 am – Arrive Tumacacori Mission.
12:30 pm – Lunch on your own at Wisdom’s Mexican Restaurant, established in the 1930s, just north of the historical park. (Wisdom’s is often very busy during the tourist season, so a different restaurant in Tubac may be selected.)
2:00 pm – Tubac for the afternoon.
4:30 pm – Return to Tucson.
5:30 pm – Arrive Tucson.
Tour Cost: $70/person