Santa Cruz River (Arizona)
The Santa Cruz River is a river in southern Arizona, United States, and northern Sonora, Mexico. It is approximately 184 miles (296 km) long. The Santa Cruz has its headwaters in the high intermontane grasslands of the San Rafael Valley to the southeast of Patagonia, Arizona, between the Canelo Hills to the east and the Patagonia Mountains to the west, just north of the U.S.-Mexican border. It flows southward into Mexico past Santa Cruz, Sonora and turns westward around the south end of the Sierra San Antonio near Miguel Hidalgo (San Lazaro), thence north-northwest to reenter the United States just to the east of Nogales and southwest of Kino Springs. It then continues northward from the international border past the Tumacacori National Historical Park, Tubac, Green Valley, Sahuarita, San Xavier del Bac, and Tucson to the Santa Cruz Flats just to the south of Casa Grande and the Gila River. Between Nogales and Tucson the river valley is flanked by the San Cayetano and Santa Rita Mountains on the east and the Atascosa, Tumacacori, and Sierrita Mountains on the west.
The Santa Cruz River is usually a dry riverbed through much of the year, unless the area receives significant rainfall. This was not always the case, as it was a combination of human errors and natural catastrophes in the late nineteenth century that led to the decline of the Santa Cruz.
The city of Nogales, Sonora has been releasing treated sewage into the Santa Cruz River. This has resulted in the revival of several miles of riverbank within and north of the city of Nogales, Arizona.
- Santa Cruz River Civic Science Conservation Initiative
- San Rafael Ranch Natural Area and state park
- Sign posted along the bank of the Santa Cruz River in Tucson
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