Empire Ranch Foundation, Sonoita
Empire Ranch Foundation, Sonoita


Historical place in the Pima County, Arizona

The Empire Ranch Headquarters is magnificently situated in the high Sonoran Desert and rolling grasslands of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (LCNCA), located just 50 miles southeast of Tucson, and 10 miles north of Sonoita.

The Ranch Headquarters and the LCNCA are open daily to visitors from sunrise to sunset. The Visitor Contact Center and Gift Shop is open during docent tours, volunteer work days, and special events. Click here for a schedule of upcoming events and more details.

There is no charge for entry and permits are not generally required to visit the national conservation area. However, commercial, competitive, and large organized group events require a special recreation permit. Permits are generally required if the group number is over 29, or if the activity needs BLM oversight or will have an impact to public lands and people. Click here for more detailed information about BLM permits.

The Empire Ranch House is a 22-room adobe and wood frame building, which dates to 1870 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The ranch sits at the heart of the 42,000-acre Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (NCA), on public lands acquired and administered since 1988 by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Tucson Field Office.

Some of the rooms at the historic Empire Ranch headquarters are wheel-chair accessible through the front breezeway (zaguán) entrance; the public restrooms are wheel-chair accessible. The terrain around the Empire Ranch headquarters is primarily dirt with uneven surfaces that can be challenging for some mobility scooters.

While often providing serenity and quiet, several times during the year special events are hosted by the Empire Ranch Foundation including a Fall Cowboy Festival, Horse Trail Rides, western movies, and educational outreach events for youth.

In 1988 the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acquired for public use and preservation the lands that now form Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (LCNCA), including the intact buildings and much of the land holdings of the historic Empire Ranch whose founding dates back to the 1870’s.

In 1997, a group of private citizens formed the Empire Ranch Foundation (ERF) as a volunteer 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Working in partnership with the BLM, the mission of the Foundation is “To protect, restore and sustain the Empire Ranch historical buildings and landscape as an outstanding western heritage education center.”

The Foundation, in partnership with the BLM, provides funds and organizes volunteers to support and complete numerous preservation projects and educational activities at Empire Ranch.