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Welcome to the Canoa Heritage Area!

The Canoa Heritage Area is located south of Tucson between
the Santa Rita and Baboquivari Mountains, serving San Xavier and
Three points to the north, and all of the rural communities down to the
Nogales and Sasabe borders to the south.

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In the heart of the Canoa Heritage Area, at the base of Elephant Head Mountain
in the Santa Rita's was the "waterhole" along the often dry Santa Cruz riverbed. 
This was the land of the O'odham (Pimas) long before
Spanish soldiers, ranchers and European influences arrived.

Spanish explorers  hollowed out large cottonwood logs to make troughs
called "Canoa" or "Canoe" in English, that were placed at the waterhole.  
Canoa became known as the "location of the waterhole in the Sonoran Desert."

Abundant sunshine, majestic mountains, and wide open spaces makes this
part of the Sonoran Desert popular with Hollywood filmmakers,
historians, nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts!  

You will find something to connect with in the Canoa Heritage Area, it's hard not to!


Canoa was also part of a 17,000 acre Spanish/Mexican land grant,

San Ignacio de la Canoa.

The Canoa Heritage Area

doesn't stop at the
Historic Canoa Ranch! 

Don't forget to explore

the other 32 attractions!

Serving the communities of San Xavier-Wa:k, Pascua Yaqui-Yoeme, Sahuarita, Green Valley, Amado, Arivaca, Tubac, Tumacácori, Rio Rico, Nogales, Sasabe, Three Points, Sells, and Topawa.

Keep up with all of the local activities in the

Canoa Heritage Area!


Connect with us for bi-monthly updates, or

view  the previous editions posted on Facebook!

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In 2012, the Friends of Canoa Heritage Foundation began to recognize the need for generating sharable resources in our rural communities, where there is little or no access to the resources that are available to the more populated towns.  

In 2013, the "Visit Canoa" project was created to address this gap, and discovered some amazing things along the way!  Sparking our passion to do what's right and follow our mission, the Canoa Heritage Area was identified. 

In 2017, Friends of Canoa Heritage Foundation was granted the opportunity to expand our historic preservation efforts by the Arizona Department of Transportation to create the art for the interpretative signs at the Canoa Ranch Rest Area on I-19.  


In partnership with the Cultural Affairs Department of the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui (Yoeme) Nations, the Old Pueblo Archaeology Center, and around thirty recognized experts, the “Evolution of Canoa” art/history display was created at the Canoa Ranch rest area sites, and has become one of southern Arizona’s newest visitor attractions.

The "Evolution of Canoa" rest area attraction was dedicated to the Tohono O'odham Nation on May 24, 2019, in recognition that this land is their motherland.  We are honored to have the privilege's to share it!

We appreciate our visitors, and remind everyone to respect the land and the ways of the people who came before you! 


It's these wide open spaces of pure culture, nature, and "history in the making" that make the land magical to the visitors who explore it.  

Many confuse our "Visit Canoa" project with the actual Historic Canoa Ranch property, which is easy to do considering the Pima County owned ranch site story focuses around the Manning's ranching empire, and last two direct descendants Ann and Leslie, daughters of Howell Manning Jr., serve on our board. 


There is also the fact that most of our current board members spent years first fighting to save the 4800 acre ranching headquarters from a large housing developer, then were monumental in creating the Canoa Ranch Master Plan. 


If you've spent anytime watching the political football of the Canoa Ranch story since 1994 unfold, you would have seen their names published.  


The restoration of the Historic Canoa Ranch that you see today is the result of those efforts.  It is one of 34 attractions that we share resources with, and support the efforts of. 

The Canoa Ranch Rest Area is our recommended first stop when visiting the Canoa Heritage Area!  It's everything you need to know about the area in a nutshell, told by the people who are the real "locals who know." 


The Historic Canoa Ranch site is located on the east side of the frontage road from the rest area site!



Friends of Canoa Heritage Foundation does not accept, or solicit contributions

on behalf of Pima County for the Historic Canoa Ranch or other PC owned properties. 


Contributions to Pima County or the Green Valley Council (GVC) 

do not benefit the Friends of Canoa Heritage Foundation.


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