Texas Canyon Nature Preserve at Amerind

Mare CzinarSeptember 15, 2023
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Photo courtesy Sirena Rana
Photo courtesy Sirena Rana

The jostled stone gorge of Texas Canyon sits on a swath of private property in the Chihuahuan Desert along Interstate 10 an hour east of Tucson. Until now, this wonderland of weathered igneous rock on the Amerind Museum property in the community of Dragoon was inaccessible to the public.

“Texas Canyon is so amazing,” says Sirena Rana, founder of Trails Inspire and designer of the soon-to-be-opened Texas Canyon Nature Preserve trail system. “There’s so much interesting geology, and a lot of people have wondered what it looks like inside.”

The 5.7-mile stacked-loop trail system, set to open on October 7, explores the dramatic landscape. Texas Canyon sits in the shadow of the Dragoon Mountains between the towns of Benson and Willcox. Nearby attractions like Chiricahua National Monument, Cochise Stronghold, Willcox Playa Wildlife Area, Tombstone, Southern Arizona wineries and acres of Coronado National Forest are big draws for tourists and locals alike.

But Dragoon and the Amerind Museum remained comparatively under the radar. The Amerind Museum is a hybrid museum, art gallery and research facility dedicated to archaeology, Indigenous cultures and Western art. It’s been around since 1937. Seeking to extend its reach, enrich visitor experience and build interest in the area, museum CEO and chief curator Eric J. Kaldahl contacted Rana after seeing her presentation on how trails can benefit communities to explore adding hiking trails to the property.

“We see each trail as an educational opportunity to advance our mission [of fostering] understanding of the Native Peoples of the Americas,” Kaldahl says. “To that end, we ultimately will be labeling the different trail names in four languages: O’odham, Apache, English and Spanish.”

Routing the 13-trail maze through the boulder-strewn terrain was tricky, but extensive site scoping and design research paid off. Trails wind through grasslands in between the rocks and natural granite passages while keeping close to interesting features like a pock-marked tafoni rock and a natural sculpture known as Whale Rock. Access to the day-use trail system is included with museum entrance fees.

Amerind Museum
2100 N. Amerind Rd., Dragoon
520-586-3666, amerind.org