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About La Ruta de Sonora
Ecotourism Association

La Ruta de Sonora Ecotourism Association transports you into one of the world’s largest protected arid ecosystems, a land of giant organ pipe and saguaro cactus, silent volcanoes, ocean tidal pools, and freshwater marshes. Savor the exotic sights and sounds of this stunning desert landscape, as you immerse yourself in the region’s rich cultural heritage and exotic natural beauty. The difference is that La Ruta seeks to not only provide an exceptional visitor experience, but to create opportunities for local residents to generate new sources of income in a manner that enhances the preservation and protection of the region’s natural environment and local cultures.

La Ruta offers something for everyone at affordable prices. Serious hikers and backpackers can enjoy some of the world’s most rugged 

wilderness, including Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and the Reserva de la Biosfera de el Pinacate. Other visitors can appreciate a more relaxing experience as they stroll secluded beaches, experience the wonderful variety of life in ocean tidal pools, or relive the remarkable history of the historic Kino missions.

La Ruta presents a unique ecotourism experience because it uses only certified local hosts, including naturalists, biologists, historians, archaeologists, and wilderness outfitters, so that visitors gain a true understanding and appreciation for the cultures and peoples of the region. A variety of travel options also allow guests to create an experience that fits their individual interests, budgets, and special needs. Select from packaged specialized tours, theme itineraries, or custom trips to tailor the Association’s services to your travel needs.

Guiding Principles

La Ruta de Sonora Ecotourism Association is organized to promote responsible and ethical tourism for the Arizona-Sonora borderlands region that provides opportunities for local residents to generate new sources of income from business ventures and services. As ecotourism and heritage tourism emerge, La Ruta seeks to underscore the importance of retaining healthy natural resources and local cultures as assets that support these activities. La Ruta believes that by providing incentives and opportunities that encourage preserving and protecting these resources and values, an ethic of community-based conservation and development can prevail.

Members of the La Ruta de Sonora Ecotourism Association certify that they subscribe to a set of values and principles that define responsible, compatible eco and heritage tourism. These principles:

  • protect against development that will degrade resources;
  • provide participatory and enlightening experiences for participants;
  • promote education for everyone who works with or subscribes to La Ruta;
  • accept local resources on their own terms and accept that limits exist;
  • promote understanding, communication, and partnership among its many actors;
  • promote moral and ethical responsibilities and behavior toward the natural and cultural environment; and
  • provide long-term benefits to the resources, the local community, and the industry (benefits may be conservation, economic, social, cultural, and/or scientific).


La Ruta de Sonora Ecotourism Association grew out of the efforts of the Sonoran Institute, a Tucson-based nonprofit conservation organization, to ensure that economic development in the Arizona-Sonora borderlands did not compromise the health of the region’s many protected areas. In 1996, the Sonoran Institute published a regional economic profile that identified four conservation-based business opportunities in the borderlands, including ecotourism. Through a series of community meetings, residents expressed a strong interest in promoting a brand of responsible tourism that helps preserve the region’s rich cultural and natural heritage.

In September 1996, a region-wide workshop on ecotourism was organized by the Sonoran Institute, which resulted in the formation of an Ecotourism Organizing Committee. Made up of community members, protected areas staff, and representatives of the existing tour industry, the multinational committee explored mechanisms to promote and manage compatible tourism for the region. Two years of meetings and research resulted in the creation of La Ruta de Sonora Ecotourism Association (La Ruta). A multinational and multi cultural board of directors was installed on October 10, 1998, in Puerto Penasco, Sonora. In the summer of 1999, La Ruta hired staff and opened an office in Ajo, Arizona. Today, La Ruta continues to make a serious, long-term effort to make the concept of ecotourism a concrete reality in the fragile Arizona-Sonora borderlands.

For more information about La Ruta de Sonora Ecotourism Association:

La Ruta de Sonora
P. O. Box 40127
Tucson, AZ 85717
Phone: 520-792-4693
Toll Free: 1-800-806-0766
Fax: 520-290-0969
Email: [email protected]

La Ruta de Sonora • Phone: 1.800.806.0766 • Email: [email protected]