- West of Nogales in southern Arizona
- Paved and Dirt
- Suitable Vehicle:
- High Clearance 4wd
- 75 mile loop
- 3 hours
- Drivable year round
DescriptionRuby Road Scenic Drive is a border country drive featuring good views of rolling hills and towering buttes, a desert oasis inhabited by rare plants and birds, an old ghost town, and two picturesque lakes.
Ruby Road got its name from a once thriving mining camp located a short distance south of the road on the edge of the Pajarito Mountains. Ruby, the ghost town, reputedly was named after a pioneer resident who lived in the town when it opened its first U.S. Post Office. What is left of that old mining camp is now private property, so you will have to be satisfied with a look as you drive by, but if old mining ghosts inspire your interest, there are plenty of them along this road.
The country which Ruby Road passes through is covered with grassy savannas and dotted with various species of oak, while an occasional clump of desert spoon, yucca, or prickly pear cactus add to the high desert ambiance. One of the first points of interest along this drive is Peña Blanca Lake. Here you will find excellent bird watching in season and good fishing year-round.
The Atascosa Trail makes another interesting stop where a short hike can take you to dramatic overlooks of mountains and canyons. One more notable stop to Sycamore Canyon where there is a Civil War-era ranch site, a streamside trail, and excellent bird watching,.Back on the road, the drive continues through this area of shallow canyons and rugged bluffs past abandoned mines and working cattle ranches to Arivaca Lake. At that remote fishing and birding spot you have the choice of returning the way you came or continuing on to the town of Arivaca and a paved route back to I-19.
Ruby Road is paved for its first 9 miles to Peña Blanca Lake. From Peña Blanca to the town of Arivaca (25 miles), it is a rough dirt road suitable for high clearance 4wd vehicles. The unpaved portions of the Ruby Road may be slippery and rutted when wet.
20 miles on Interstate
Leave Interstate 19 approximately 8 miles north of Nogales at Ruby Road Exit 12 (AZ 289). Drive west to Peña Blanca Lake where the route number changes to Forest Road 39. Continue on Forest Road 39, taking a side trip to Arivaca Lake if you choose, then turn north on Forest Road 216 which leads into the town of Arivaca. From Arivaca, follow Arivaca Road back to I-19.