Ruby, Az 7-28-2013


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One of my favorite things about getting out into the back country is finding abandoned places and signs of the past. I am fortunate that Arizona and the southwest have a rich history of mining and with it a wealth of ruins waiting to be explored. While many sites may be just a few stones still piled up, or a crumbling single adobe wall, there are many sites off the beaten path that retain many elements of their glory days. Ruby, Az happens to be one of the latter sites. Read up on the history HERE. A group of us decided to make a day trip to Ruby over the weekend. We were quite surprised at what we found, and will definitely be going back.

Ruby is approximately two hours from Tucson. Heading down I-19 you exit to Arivaca. Once in Arivaca (also a neat place to stop) you turn onto Ruby road. The road seems to have been designed by someone that was either blind, or slightly inebriated. Had it not been for the rough numerous patches covering the entire road surface, it would have made for a fun curvy drive. After some time, the patchwork asphalt turns to a much smoother gravel road. Soon the gravel turns to rocks and small creek crossings, though, nothing a passenger car couldn't handle. Eventually you come to the turn off for Ruby. One thing I have not mentioned up to this point is that Ruby is under the care of a group working to preserve and restore the site. Once you arrive you need to check in with the care taker, sign a liability form, and pay your $12/ adult fee. This is a small price to pay for such an extensive site in such good condition.
This truck officially greets you as you enter the town

Ruby has a couple dozen buildings left standing, and a few other surprises in store for anyone who visits. Most of the buildings are 100% open to be explored. A few are closed and a few more are undergoing restoration.

Outdoor shower and toilet

Parking near the bunkhouses

Site where the mill once stood

The Ruby Skywalk – go on enjoy the view

Oatmeal and oil

This was a redneck engineer's idear of a windmill


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After exploring the main part of the site “in town” you drive along Town Lake through a small thicket and enter the best surprise of all….A white sandy dune field and beach. The sand is actually finely crushed tailings from the mining operations. Around 600,000 tons were placed here to dam up the creek and store water to be used in the mining operation. Today there is a small lake that was very inviting, though most of us were not adventurous to enter. That will be for next time.

There is even a beach shack to escape the sun

After exploring the beach/ dunes/ tailings pile, we set up in the lone ramada and cooked some lunch.

After lunch we went back towards the entrance to explore the three room school house, jail, and general store.
Remains of the first structure in Ruby.

School House - This accommodated 120 students at one time

Need a sizeable bathroom to serve that many kids and staff

Piano still played… some keys anyways

This slide was about 15 ft tall at the top. Not sure parents these days would go for it…

A pretty lonely jail cell

There were two general stores. This one was very large and at one time hosted a post office.

I believe this large piece of equipment was a refrigerator used to make blocks of ice at one point.

The main shaft for the mine now houses bats, thousands and thousands of bats. The smell coming out of the shaft was pretty strong. The main shaft was dug down to 760 ft with side tunnels stretching out up to 2000 ft on many levels.

Near the main shaft is the junkyard, with many barrels, wheel barrels, and even an old car body or two.

The town is spread out, but not too difficult to walk around; plan for a full day if coming from Tucson. Bring plenty of water and food as there are no services out there. Also remember to bring a bathing suit if you want to take a dip. I feel it is well worth the $12 entry fee to see this many buildings in one place, with many in good condition. I haven't shown you all of Ruby, nor did I see all of it on this trip. On your way out be sure to check out with the caretaker, and wave goodbye to the old truck.



I'll second the fee, it's worth it, particularly since the money is going towards managing and protecting the site. Nice pictures... brought back a few memories.


Thanks for sharing the pics. $12 is a small price to pay to help preserve this place. This place never would've survived in this condition without a caretaker.

Todd Z.


2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
Amen on the $12 bucks being a great deal to keep idiots from shooting up the place like so much else in Arizona.

Thanks for the report and I look forward to getting the family out there.


And to think I used to walk around that place for free whist in college at the UofA! I loved going and hunting in the area as well. Nice to see that it is somewhat standing still.