Cabin Rentals: Kentucky Camp

Kentucky Camp Cabin Headquarters, Arizona

 Nestled in the scenic Santa Rita Mountains near Sonoita, Kentucky Camp consists of five adobe buildings: the headquarters, two cabins, the assay office and the remains of a barn. A small cabin and headquarters building have been restored for public use in the “Rooms with a View” program. One of the charms of the site is the evening quiet and dark night sky. The two buildings are located within 100 yards of each other, so to preserve the privacy and tranquility of the visitor experience, guests renting the headquarters for day use automatically have use of the cabin the night before and the night of the day use. A caretaker is usually available on site to greet the public and answer questions. However, this is a volunteer position and the caretaker may not be there at all times.


Kentucky Camp was constructed over 100 years ago as the headquarters for the Santa Rita Water and Mining Company, which intended to mine the placer gold deposits of the Greaterville Mining District. The company built ditches, tunnels, and siphons to bring water from the southern part of the Santa Rita Mountains to the gold deposits near Kentucky Camp. In 1905 their hydraulic works were reported to be “tearing up the ground with splendid results,” but the company never recouped its initial investment. Kentucky Camp later served as a ranch headquarters, and the property was acquired by the Coronado National Forest in 1989. With the help of the “Friends of Kentucky Camp” and other volunteers, the Forest Service is working to preserve and interpret the site.



  • Four twin-size bunks with mattresses
  • Loveseat with pull-out single bed
  • Propane heater
  • Rocking chairs
  • Small dining table and four chairs
  • Small refrigerator
  • Small microwave and some microwave pots
  • Toaster oven, coffee pot, hot plate
  • Dishes, pots, pans, utensils, and broom
  • Outside picnic table
  • Propane BBQ grill
  • Outside sink
  • Outside vault toilet

Headquarters Building

The 10-room building is furnished with two futon couches, a large dining room/conference table with eight chairs, a smaller table with seating for , bookcases, end tables, rocking chairs, and reading lamps. The small kitchenette has a refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot, crock pot, and some dishes and utensils. There are five Adirondack chairs and a small table with benches on the wrap-around porch. Also outside are picnic tables, propane and charcoal grills, a sink, and a vault toilet.

Things You'll Need

  • Food
  • Bedding (sheets, blankets, sleeping bags, pillows)
  • Towels (bath and kitchen)
  • Trash bags
  • Warm clothing
  • Dish washing liquid
  • Flashlight

Area Attractions and Activities

Located along the Santa Rita Mountain Passage of the Arizona Trail, the site makes a good base for hikers and mountain bikers. Historic ditches, dams and placer mining pits can be seen along segments of the Arizona Trail to the south. The picturesque towns of Sonoita, Elgin and Patagonia are all a short drive away. Kartchner Caverns State Park, Tombstone and Nogales are some other popular tourist destinations in the vicinity.

Situated along the Santa Rita Mountain Passage of the Arizona Trail the cabin is available for backpackers and mountain cyclists. Gardner Canyon Trailhead is about 5.3 miles southwest and Oak Tree Canyon Trailhead is about 12 miles northeast.


Kentucky Camp is located about 45 miles southeast of Tucson, Arizona. It is accessible by sedan, but a high-clearance vehicle is recommended. The last 5 miles involve travel over dirt roads, which can be slick when wet. For information on current road conditions, visitors can contact the Nogales Ranger District at (520) 281-2296.

Directions from Tucson, AZ: Take Interstate 10 to Exit 281. From Exit 281, follow State Route 83 south about 20 miles to Gardner Canyon Road, and turn right (west).

Directions from the south: Take State Route 83 north from Sonoita and turn left (west) on Gardner Canyon Road. Go west on Gardner Canyon Road approximately 0.9 mile, turn right onto Forest Road 163, and follow the signs to Kentucky Camp



The cabin is located on the Coronado National Forest.


A rustic adobe 3-room cabin is available for overnight stays at $75 per night. The 10-room headquarters building is currently available only for day use; the $200 fee includes overnight use of the small cabin the night before and the night following the day use.


The cabin has capacity for up to five people for overnight stays. The headquarters building has capacity for up to 50 people for day use.


Smoking is prohibited in any of the buildings. All smoking must be done within enclosed vehicles or outside in an area cleared of all flammable material. Please fully extinguish and properly dispose of cigarette butts. We request that you do not litter the property grounds.


Pets are permitted inside the cabin, but renters must clean up after their pets. When outside the cabin, dogs must be leashed. Mountain lions and bears live in the Santa Rita Mountains. Do not leave pets unattended outside.


The cabin is available year round.


Reservations may be made 1 day to 6 months in advance online at or by phone: 877-444-6777; TTY/Hearing toll-free 877-833-6777; International 518-885-3639. No walk-in reservations.

Check-in: after 2 p.m.
Check-out: before 12 p.m.
Fees: Expect to pay a reservation and cancellation fee when appropriate.
Additional information: Access to Kentucky Camp is through a locked gate. The gate and cabin have combination locks. The combinations for the gate and the cabin are provided after a reservation is made. A notebook in the cabin provides tips for a safe and comfortable stay as well as area recreational information.

Contact Information

Nogales Ranger District
303 Old Tucson Road
Nogales, AZ 85621
(520) 281-2296

Coronado National Forest
300 W. Congress
Tucson, AZ 85621
(520) 388-8300

Other Information

If you would like to help with the preservation of Kentucky Camp, the Friends of Kentucky Camp is a private, non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to maintaining and restoring the site. Information on joining, and on scheduled workdays, can be found at