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Name: Presumido Trading Post and Ghost Town Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (Easy 4WD)
Time: 4 - 6 hours Region: Southwest Arizona
Length: 18 miles total (one way) Elevation gain/loss/change: ~ +1350 ft / -1350 ft / +~0 ft (one way)
Type: Modified Loop Avg Elevation: 3600 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Medium
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: High
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: November, 2014
Short Description: A beautiful drive to a unique and well-preserved ghost town near the Mexico border
Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area: Sasabe Store and Hilltop Bar ; Sasabe or Tucson? ; Cholla Hill
References / Contact Information: None yet. Any info would be greatly appreciated
Points of interest: Presumido Well, Presumido town site, Presumido and Pozo Verde Mountain Passes, Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge
Special Considerations: Trail goes through Buenos Aires Refuge and town is about 100 yards from the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation. It's also very close to the border and special caution should be taken when traveling in these areas
How to get there: From Tucson, take Ajo Way (highway 86) west for about 20 miles until you reach Three Points. Turn left (south) onto Sasabe Road (highway 286) and drive for about 37.5 miles until you reach W. Aros Wash Road at Waypoint WPT001. Turn right onto dirt road. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

This is an easy 4WD trail to the little known ghost town of Presumido. The trail begins in the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge and heads west towards the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation. Route finding can be a little difficult due to some recent construction on what I believe is a new gas line.

The trail heads through some scenic grasslands before peaking at Presumido Pass and dipping down into Presumido Canyon. Some places in the canyon can get a little brushy. The drive down Presumido Canyon is wonderful. There's a few dams, the old well and some ruins you can visit on your way to the Presumido town site.

The Presumido town site has five stone/adobe ruins that are in relatively great shape. The best thing is these don't have signs of vandalism. It's amazing that once you get far away from the cities of Tucson and Phoenix how the vandalism goes away. For any ghost town aficionados, this is a must see!

General Information and History

I can't find any specific detailed information on this site, but here's my best guess at what's out there after visiting the site, talking with some people and finding the small pieces of information on the web. I think this was a trading post for the Indians on the Tohono O'odham Reservation from the early 1900s. This makes sense due to it's close proximity to the reservation boundary (approximately 100 yards). I think the site was built somewhere between 1900 and 1930. This is based on the adobe and stone construction of the buildings.

I also believe there may have been some ranching / mining done in the area after this time given the relatively recent construction techniques of the concrete water storage tank. One thing we did not find during our visit was recent (greater than 1940ish) vehicle remains or parts scattered about as you will typically find at places like this. We are continuing to try and hunt down the history to this wonderful place.

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The Trail

Note: I did not find out until researching this trail after we ran it that it crosses through a small portion of the Indian reservation at Presumido Pass, which is the route I describe it herein. There are no signs telling you this. The only way I found out was by looking at a few maps. If you do not want to cross through the reservation, you can go in and out through Pozo Verde Mountain Pass. Also, there are LOTS of trails in this area. Not all are called out. Route finding can be difficult at times.

At Waypoint WPT001, turn west off Sasabe Road onto W. Aros Wash Road. There's a nice big area to air down just past the cattle guard. Continue straight (there's a road that immediately angles off to the right) to stay on Aros Wash Road. The road is an easy, graded dirt road here.

Drive 2.6 miles almost due west on Aros Wash Road until you come to Waypoint WPT002. Turn left (due south) onto the new bypass road. I think this was made for a gas line, but could be wrong. Drive straight south for almost a mile. This road has been washed out in a few places and is slower going than the previous miles.

At WPT003, turn right to head west again. After about 1/4 of a mile, bear left at the intersection (a right here goes to a dirt cattle tank) at WPT004. Drive another 1/2 mile and bear right at the intersection at WPT005. A short distance later (0.1 miles), bear right again at WPT006. A left will take you to Palmas Tank. Head down into the wash, then back up again. You will drive almost another mile until you reach the main intersection at WPT007. Turn left here.

After 0.3 miles, keep straight at WPT008, past the road on your left. It's another 0.55 miles until you reach the top of Presumido Pass at WPT009. Unknown to me at the time, the gate here allows you to pass onto the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation. There was no sign stating this during the time we went.

You will begin to head into Presumido Canyon and for the next mile you will be on the reservation until you reach WPT009A. There was no indication that we left reservation territory either.

Continue driving south for another 0.63 miles until you reach Presumido Well at WPT010. You will see two circular metal water tanks and a windmill on your left. A little over 100 yards to the southeast and across the small canyon are the ruins of a small building. We attempted to hike directly there from the well, but the bramble is very thick and thorny, plus the canyon had some steep walls that were not easily passable. I think the best way to access these ruins are through the wash to the south, but we did not have time to do this. See maps page for Google Earth image.

When you're done at the well, continue on the road for another 0.17 miles until you reach the intersection at WPT011. Keep straight. A left here takes you to Sasabe via the Pozo Verde Mountains Pass and will be the way you will drive out. Also, you can come into via this pass, therefore bypassing the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation.

After another 0.61 miles, you will see a dam off to your right (the dam may be hard to see heading in this direction) at WPT011A. Keep going straight. Drive through the canyon for another 1.17 miles until you reach WPT012 and the dam on your left. Again, this dam can be difficult to see driving in this direction (much easier seen driving the opposite way). Keep straight. It's only another 0.22 miles until you reach Presumido at WPT013.

Presumido Town Site

There are five main buildings (ruins) and a concrete tank at the town site (see map page for larger image). What I believe is the trading post is directly next to the road with a large parking area just to the west. To the north of the road are two small stone/adobe structures that look like small homes to me. One is partially made of stone and adobe. The furthest building to the west appears to be a stable or barn. There are large sections that don't appear to have had any walls which should be the openings for the animals. Next to the wash on the south side of the road is the largest building of all. I think this was the main residence. It had multiple rooms. There's a cast iron bathtub (almost completely buried in dirt) in one room. The old outhouse is directly next to this building also. About 100 yards east of the trading post is the large concrete water tank. This looks like more recent construction than the rest of the town.

About 100 yards or so west of the town is Indian Reservation land. There is no gate, just a fence post, but it did not have any signs stating you were entering the reservation.

Once you're done looking at all the great ruins here, head back through the canyon that you drove through to get here. Drive the 2.0 miles back to WPT011 and take a right at the intersection. You will start to climb up the Pozo Verde Mountains. Some of the road is a little steep, but was in good shape when we ran it. After 1.42 miles, you will come to the top of the pass (WPT011B). This is a great place with views to either side.

Continue down the other side of the pass. At 1.0 mile, keep straight past the road on your left at WPT014. After another 0.57 miles, keep straight past road on your right at WPT015. Drive another 0.3 miles, then take a left on El Mirador Road (WPT016). Keep on the main road for 2.9 miles until you reach Sasabe Road at WPT017.

Have fun and be safe!

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