Sunday, January 09, 2022

Buenos Aires NWR to Harshaw, AZ

 Our time in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge was enjoyable, though there was some rather cool weather, including a quite a bit of rain for a day or two.  There was even some good frost some nights!


Really enjoyed getting out on the e-bike, which was great for patrolling the miles and miles of back trails through the refuge.  

I even went as far as the refuge headquarters one day, all on back trails.

Sticking mostly to the well traveled routes was hopefully going to reduce the chances of a tire puncture from the various thorns in the desert.  But one day, about 2-3 miles from camp, I got a flat.  Unlike my previous experience with flat bike tires, this time I did not have to carry the bike for miles.  I was on a good road, and surprised to be able to push it all the way home along the road.  The tire was filled with 'Slime' and aired up, but that did not seem to stop the leak, and no thorns or punctures were found.  I was a bit intimidated about having to remove the back wheel on the hub-drive bike, but after watching the requisite number of Youtube videos, I became an expert bike mechanic! 

 The wheel came off easily, and the problem was found to be a 1/4" tear on the inner portion of the tube, right beside the valve stem.  Without a spare tube on hand, I did a backwoods repair by wrapping the injury with a circle of gorilla tape, and inverted it so the slime could do it's work.  That repair lasted long enough for the next day's ride, but it went flat again overnight :-(.
So, eventually I had to resort to a new tube, and become a bike mechanic again!  Even bought a spare tube this time.
Watch the video of Hailey doing battle with imaginary enemy(s)!  She's still pretty quick for a middle-aged, 3 legged feline.


When we arrived at the refuge, there was only one other camper in the area.  But after New years, the hunters started to show up, and it wasn't long before all the camp spots in the area were full to overflowing, and the number of trucks, atv's, and noisy traffic in the early mornings started to build. 

Border patrol brought an injured person out of the desert in the area, and met the local EMS at the highway jct.

So - it was time to move on.  Besides, we had almost used up our allotted two weeks of free camping, and it was time for a change of scenery.  After a short debate, it was decided to head further east and check out bustling Harshaw, a ghost (!) town near Patagonia.  We had to pass through Nogales on the way, and took the opportunity to stock up on food, fuel, and propane - after missing the turnoff and almost driving into Mexico!

On the way from Nogales to Patagonia was the turnoff to Patagonia Lake State Park.  Wanting to check it out on the way, we drove the very hilly access road, only to find out that they had 'no trespassing' (twice) on their sign at the gate.  The park was clearly open to the public (!), and I think they wanted at $15 day use fee, so we made a quick U-turn and continued on our way.

We continued through Patagonia, and on to the ghost townsite at Harshaw.
There are quite a number of large open camp spots along the road, under some huge old Cottonwood trees.  The last time I camped here was several years ago, and there was a lot of expectation of a new mine opening in the immediate area.
Well, there is certainly a lot of activity now, though I doubt the mine itself will be operating for a year or two.  But during 'rush hour' on this rough section of forest service road there must be 50-60 vehicles an hour, many hauling trailers, rattling and banging their way up the road.  Luckily, most of them are pickups, with a few semis, loaders, vans, even full size buses, water trucks wetting the road down, fuel trucks, border patrol.  No dust, because of the water truck working 24 hrs a day, but not much peace and quiet here - unless you were deaf!
But Hailey loved the trees she could climb.

At one point a lone California Scrub-Jay spotted her in the tree, and called in his whole flock!

 Watch the video for the result!

Very nice country in that area, and because of the mine (?), most of the previously dusty washboard road is now hard surfaced - except for about the last mile, where the camping is!

Main road to the mine under development.

 I guess I'd better not include any aerial shots in this blog post!

We only stayed two nights because of all the traffic, which typically started to get heavy sometime before 5 AM.  Next on the itinerary - another visit to Las Cienegas National Conservation area and the Empire Ranch, near Sonoita, AZ.


  1. That Hailey is a great companion. I must have picked a quiet day to drive to Harshaw. Enjoy the grasslands.

    1. Maybe you were there on a weekend, or in the middle of the day, when the traffic dies down for a while! Still a beautiful area though.

  2. Hey Ivan, it was 12 years ago today we first met you at the ranch we were ranch sitting at near McNeal Arizona. I'm wondering if you are at the same spot you were at when we looked you up at Harshaw a few years back. The big cottonwood tree at your site kinda looked familiar. Nice photos and video of Hailey. I think Las Cienegas was the place where I last saw you at. I like the pictures of the those cactus, etc. They remind me of the cactus garden I so much enjoyed putting together at our former house in Congress Az. Keep on truckin:))

  3. Was it that long ago, wow! I was pretty close to the same spot at Harshaw, but on the other side of the road this time. I was calling those Cottonwoods, but I think they are actually Sycamores. Enjoying LC NCA, but not down in the pronghorn country this time.