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Heritage Experiences

Distinctive Stories of the Santa Cruz Valley
The ten interpretive themes of the proposed Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area highlight significant aspects of the natural and cultural history of this region. These are the special stories this region has to tell the rest of the nation, and they are unique among existing National Heritage Areas. 

 

Sky Islands and Desert Seas
The Sky Islands and Desert Seas theme highlights the globally unique landscape and extraordinary biological diversity of the proposed National Heritage Area. This landscape has provided the resources and opportunities for exceptional natural and cultural diversity in the region. Read more about sky islands and desert seas.
Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com

 

  

Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com


Streams in the Desert

The Santa Cruz River and its tributaries are the ribbon of life that have supported humans and wildlife in the desert for thousands of years. Read more about
streams in the desert.
Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com

 

Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com 

Bird Habitats and Migration Routes
The Santa Cruz Valley is one of the major bird migration routes in the western U. S. and the region has recently been voted the number one birding area to visit in the nation. Read more about bird habitats and migration routes.
Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com

 

Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com 

Native American Lifeways
The Santa Cruz Valley is one of the longest-inhabited places in North America, and the homeland of two Native American tribes. Read more about
Native American lifeways.
Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com
 

Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com


Desert Farming
People have farmed in the Santa Cruz valley for four millennia, and have constructed canals to irrigate fields in the same locations for the last 3,500 years, making it one of the oldest continuously cultivated areas in North America. Read more about desert farming
Photo courtesy Adriel Heisey.

 

 


Ranching Traditions
 
The high desert grasslands of the Santa Cruz Valley has always been a cultural crossroads on the frontier of settlement, where ranching has so profoundly shaped our cultural and natural landscape.  Read more about ranching traditions.
Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com
   Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com
Spanish and Mexican Frontier 
Beginning in the 1680s, the Santa Cruz Valley was part of the northern frontier of New Spain, where Spanish colonists, soldiers, and missionaries interacted with local Native Americans. Read more about Spanish and Mexican frontier
Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com
   Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com
Mining Booms
Ghost towns and old mines throughout the region are visible reminders of mining booms and busts over several centuries. Read more about mining booms and ghost towns.
Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com
   Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com
 
U.S. Military Posts on the Mexico Border
The operations and posts of the U.S. military are an important part of the history of the Santa Cruz Valley. Read more about U.S. military posts on the border.
Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com
   Photo courtesy Murray Bolesta/CactusHuggers.com
 U.S.-Mexico Border Culture

The Santa Cruz Valley spans the border between the United States and Mexico, where residents of the valley find that their lives are entwined with people on both sides of the boundary, whether through family ties, economic interaction, or common history.  Read more about the U.S.-Mexico border culture.