San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area

My favorite area in southeast Arizona. This area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). There is no extra cost beyond what we pay in taxes. When silver was found in Tombstone they needed somewhere to process the ore. Tombstone did not have water. Along the San Pedro River many towns sprout up to handle this production of the ore. Tombstone’s mine got deep enough they finally struck water effectively putting these little boom towns out of business.

There are many relics to see of these ghost towns. Some have more buildings than others. There is a hiking path that goes through this area. We hiked many miles to see what there was to offer. Here are two areas where we hiked the most.

Millville/Charleston/Petroglyph Trail

This was a 20 minute ride from our campground to this area. We found it by accident while we were driving to Tombstone. Millville and Charleston and towns on opposite sides of the river. You can walk through the remains of old Millville. Charleston has no hiking trail. You can see where it was but it is dangerous to walk over there. There is also a rock formation with many petroglyhs. The entire hike is about 3 miles. It is not hard but there is a lot of beauty.


Fairbanks was also established during the silver boom in Tombstone. It had something that other towns did not have though. It had a train depot as well as it had a state route running through this town. It was able to hold on much longer than other boom towns along the San Pedro. There are several building still standing.

This town held on until 1972 when Fairbank Mercantile, post office and gas station closed. We walked around around the town thinking about the teachers who had to work in this town. The rules were very strict. Teachers could not be seen walking with a man that was not their father or brother. She could not marry. She could not be out alone at night. The school closed in the mid 1940s. You can also walk over to the towns cemetery. We found so many graves of children. The old west was very harsh. You were lucky to survive to adulthood.

There are so many options for hiking, biking or horse back riding in the San Pedro Conservation area. This is a place I highly recommend. Be on the lookout for wildlife. We saw javelina and deer. Also, be on the lookout for snakes. That is just good practice in this area.

Have you ever been to the San Pedro Conservation area? If so, what is your favorite part?

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