Our vision is to be southern Arizona’s premier destination and resource for the understanding and appreciation of the
diverse cultures who impacted and influenced life in the Sonoran desert region during the Territorial period.



Authentic Experiences

Arizona Sonora Western Heritage Foundation (ASWHF) interpretive programs offer visitors experiences that help them understand both the inventiveness and the sometimes tragic complexity of life in the Old West. Between 1850 and 1912, sweeping change occurred as diverse groups of people and cultures moved into this desert region.

Families are seeking authentic experiences for their vacations and local discoveries. ASWHF provides this experiential adventure at Old Tucson by re-using existing structures and creating new structures to provide interactive exhibit space. Visitors learn about the everyday lives of real people who lived in the region at that time.


Real People Sharing…

• REAL STORIES that have been passed down through historical documents (e.g., maps, newspaper articles, photographs, and personal journals)

• CUSTOMS AND FOLKLORE that were part of their daily personal lives (e.g., oral traditions, rituals, art, music, food and cultural artifacts)

• REAL WORKING SKILLS for the Trades of the Southwest – horse shoeing, saddle making, adobe brick making, tortilla making, basket making

• CATTLE AND RANCH-HAND SKILLS – branding, roping

• EDIBLE SONORAN DESERT PLANTS – mesquite tree pods, prickly pear pads, saguaro fruits, cholla buds, Mormon Tea, fresh palo verde pods

• CELEBRATIONS – music, singing, dancing of the native people and early settlers

Educational Benefits to Tucson

Learn about the interaction of these culturally diverse people who lived, worked and survived in the Sonoran desert. Learn how their struggles and successes laid the groundwork for the opportunities we enjoy today.


• Educational outreach through programs and experiences of this early settlement in the southwest

• Increased appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of the settlement of Pima County and establishment of Tucson

• Preservation of history and enhance the opportunities of western-themed films

• Understanding of the diverse people and cultures, their stories and their different cultural perspectives which influenced and established the Sonoran region; consisting of Native Americans, Mexicans, Asians, Jewish merchants, • Mormon settlers, and Europeans, among others

• Educational outreach highlighting the richness of the natural environment of the Sonoran desert through geo-tourism and the social behavioral science of the Sonoran region

Economic Benefits to Tucson

Old Tucson is already a major destination and an internationally known brand. With its proximity to the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, Arizona Sonora Western Heritage Foundation is well positioned to be an additional geo-tourism attraction in the Tucson Mountain Park area.


Admission to the multi-cultural heritage center at Old Tucson will be comparable to similar education-based attractions in Pima County. Reduced pricing for educationally based groups will be incorporated into the admission structure to ensure all have accessibility to the programs offered by the Foundation.


Old Tucson annual attendance is currently 180,000. Attendance is projected to increase to 250,000 over a six-year period with 40% generated from Southern Arizona and 60% from visitors to the region. Operating days will be increased as attendance increases and infrastructure is added to provide shade and climate controlled areas. Old Tucson is currently open on the weekends in the summer months.