Ruby Road

Ruby Road, a beautiful drive with lots of historical sights in AZ

Ruby Road is the name of a very scenic drive located on the boundary of Santa Cruz and Pima counties in southern Arizona near the Mexican border. The road got its name from a once thriving mining camp on its route. A high-clearance vehicle is required.

How long is Ruby Road?

Tucked away within the Coronado National Forest, southwest of Tucson, on the edge of the Pajarito Mountains, the road is 59.70km (37.1 miles) long running east-northwest from Pendleton Drive (near Rio Rico in Santa Cruz County) to Arivaca (in Pima County), along the southern slopes of the Atascosa Mountains. A high-clearance vehicle is required. Four-wheel-drive is recommended but not necessary in good weather.

Is Ruby Road paved?

The road tops out at 1.472m (4,829ft) above the sea level. Ruby Road #289/39 Scenic Drive includes paved and unpaved sections. It is paved for its first 12 miles to Peña Blanca Lake (created by a dam in 1957). From that point it is a graded dirt road suitable for passenger vehicles for the next 25 miles to the town of Arivaca. The road conditions vary, but there are several rough patches, which means a high-clearance vehicle is a must. The narrow road lacks guardrails and includes several sheer drop-offs. Slow speeds are recommended on this winding foothills road. Also, note that unpaved portions of Ruby Road can be slippery and rutted when wet.

How long does it take to drive Ruby Road?

This is a remarkable road trip in an area of rugged mountains, semi-arid deserts and abundant wildlife. Remember to bring your camera. Plan 2-3 hours of driving time without any stop. Along the way, the road offers stunning views of rolling hills and towering buttes, a desert oasis inhabited by rare plants and birds, two picturesque lakes and Ruby, an old ghost town. This is a good area to explore if you like ghost towns. On the road to Arivaca you'll pass what's left of Ruby, Oro Blanco, and several abandoned mining camps. Arivaca itself is billed as a ghost town even though people still live there.

When is the best time to drive Ruby Road?

Located 8 miles north of the Mexican border, the best times to visit this area are late fall, winter, and early spring. Temperatures can exceed 100 degrees anytime from April through October. Many of the interesting desert plants are succulent perennials that can be observed during any season. If you make a summer visit, try getting out in the early morning before the intense heat of the day. Desert heat and low humidity are real hazards for people unfamiliar with hot climates. A person can lose up to 5 quarts of fluid a day and it is easy to become seriously dehydrated without realizing it, so drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel very thirsty. Always carry extra water in your car. When going on a hike, even if a short one, take a day pack with water, snack foods, protective clothing, flashlight, first aid kit, compass, and map. To avoid sun injury, wear light loose clothing, use sunscreen on exposed areas, wear a hat, and have sunglasses. Be special careful with the snakes. There are plenty of rattlesnakes.


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