Nogales, AZ


There are hotels and motels in Nogales with something for every taste and price range. For more information and a complete list. (Click here for: Hotel Rates, Availability Traveler Review and reservations online.)

Location / Description

Nogales is a popular port of entry on the international border between the US and Mexico. It is the county seat of Santa Cruz County. Both Nogales, Arizona and its sister city (Nogales, Sonora) are named for walnut trees (nogal in Spanish) that were at one time plentiful here. Today the area is known for unique shopping, historical, and cultural adventures. In fact, over 60 percent of Nogales' sales tax comes from Mexican shoppers crossing the border daily. Nogales and its sister city are home to one of the largest cooperative manufacturing clusters - maquiladora - which enable American manufacturing plants located on both sides of the border to take advantage of favorable wages and operating costs and excellent transportation and distribution networks.

Population / Elevation

Population: 21,765 (2006)
Elevation: 3865 feet above sea level

Area: 20.8 square miles


Nogales was established by Jacob and Isaac Isaacson who built a trading post at the border in 1880. Two years later, in 1882, brought the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad and the first rail connection between the United States and Mexico. Nogales was also known as Isaacson for a short time. The U.S. Postal Service opened the Isaacson Post Office but renamed it to Nogales in 1883. Nogales was incorporated in 1893.

In 1917 Nogales was the site of the last engagement in the Indian Wars.

Nogales was the filming location for the movie version of the musical Oklahoma! in 1955. Nogales was chosen because it looked more like turn-of-the-century Oklahoma than anywhere in Oklahoma.

Things To Do

  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Shopping - on both sides of the border
  • Horseback riding
  • Offroad activities
  • Sightseeing


  • May - Cinco de Mayo - annual festival celebrating Mexico's independence

Resources & Nearby Attractions


Cities & Towns

Parks & Monuments

Recreation & Wilderness Areas

Historic & Points of Interest

  • Old Tubac Schoolhouse 
  • Old Nogales City Hall 
  • Santa Cruz County Courthouse 
  • Patagonia Railroad Depot 
  • Pimeria Alta Historical Society Museum 
  • Pete Kitchens Outpost 
  • Ghost towns and mining camps

Other DesertUSA Resources
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Related Books & Gifts - Trading Post
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Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyon de Chelly NM offers the opportunity to learn about Southwestern Indian history from the earliest Anasazi to the Navajo Indians who live and farm here today. Its primary attractions are ruins of Indian villages built between 350 and 1300 AD at the base of sheer red cliffs and in canyon wall caves.

Glen Canyon Dam

Held behind the Bureau of Reclamation's Glen Canyon Dam, waters of the Colorado River and tributaries are backed up almost 186 miles, forming Lake Powell. The dam was completed in 1963. Take a look at this tremendous feat of engineering - the Glen Canyon Dam.

Lees Ferry

Due to the shale deposits which slope gently to the river here, Lees Ferry was the only place to cross the Colorado River for 260 miles until the Navajo Bridge was built across Marble Canyon in 1927. Join DesertUSA as we explore this historic site.


We have a online Wildflower Field Guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.