The Area

This 253-acre community lies in the high desert of the Upper Santa Cruz River Valley, with the Santa Rita Mountains as a majestic backdrop.

There are two reasons for the area’s remarkable longevity: water (the nearby Santa Cruz River) and a more temperate climate as compared to the northern desert locations of Tucson and Phoenix. Together, they have sustained a succession of societies from ancient Native American cultures to territorial ranchers and farmers. 

The Hohokam people had a thriving agricultural community here initially. Anthropologists believe the area also was on a trade route followed by Spanish explorers and conquistadores from the Sea of Cortez in Mexico north to Casa Grande in the 1500s.

In 1691, Jesuit missionary Father Eusebio Kino arrived in the Santa Cruz Valley, and established the nearby Tumacacori and San Xavier del Bac (“White Dove of the Desert”) missions.

Working ranches have been a fixture in the area for the past 125 years, and crops from cotton to rubber have been grown here.

A 50,000-acre state wildlife preserve and the Santa Rita Experimental Range are adjacent to Stone House today. Operated by the University of Arizona, the experimental range is the oldest natural resource-based agricultural research facility in the world.

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