Discover Marana

Marana is part of the new Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area


A public lands bill signed into law in March created the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area (NHA), which directly impacts the Town of Marana. The Santa Cruz Valley NHA stretches from the watershed of the Santa Cruz River around Nogales and Patagonia, north through Tucson to Marana.

The Santa Cruz Valley NHA is a non-regulatory designation made by Congress to honor and celebrate the region’s contribution to America’s history, which they hope will stimulate heritage-based economic development and geo-tourism in the region.

According to the Green Valley News, “Santa Cruz Valley is a natural and cultural landscape that has been shaped by many generations of people from diverse cultural origins, and the NHA designation provides a unique opportunity to promote these heritage resources and educate the community about our shared heritage.”

Although National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress, they are different from National Parks and other types of federal designations because they do not impose federal zoning or regulations on land use.

“The boundaries of a National Heritage Area are not regulatory, and designation will not affect private property rights, land use zoning, property taxes, or government jurisdictions,” explained the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance. “Participation is completely voluntary. An analogy for a National Heritage Area is an “enterprise zone,” in which an area has been designated for voluntary participation for benefits.”

Learn More:
Green Valley News
Arizona Geology Survey E-Magazine
Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance

Marana named a top-30 destination to avoid winter

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The Town of Marana was named one of the 30 Places to Make You Forget About Winter by the Forbes Travel Guide. The Town was selected as an ideal destination for those "dreaming of running away to a place where we don sunglasses and flip-flops instead of marshmallow-like down coats and snow boots. "

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Marana made the list along with such exotic locales as St. Kitts, Cancun, and Bali. Tucson also made the list. 

The article highlighted the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, as well as the area's hiking trails and petroglyphs.

Marana, Arizona is the gateway to Southern Arizona and a perfect place to explore and play, as well as a perfect staging point for adventures all over the region.

Learn more about all of the great travel options in Marana including culinary tours, places to stay, great food and beverage options, shopping, and more at

The Top 30 Places to Make You Forget About Winter

Marana In The Media: Ancient irrigation canals discovered in Marana 10 years ago


The Marana News had a good story about the 10-year anniversary of the discovery of ancient irrigation canals within the Town of Marana.

It’s been a decade since the announced discovery of the Las Capas irrigation canals, the uncovering of what would prove to be the oldest documented irrigation system in North America—and an answer to how ancient farmers grew corn in an arid and cactus-filled Sonoran Desert.

It was 10 years ago that Desert Archaeology began major excavations along the east bank of the Santa Cruz River, downstream of the confluence of the Rillito and Cañada del Oro tributaries as part of an expansion of Pima County’s water reclamation facilities when they found evidence of earlier waterways.

By earlier, according to excavation archaeologist James Vint, we’re speaking of dates from the Early Agricultural period (between 1200 and 800 B.C.) through the Hohokam and Protohistoric eras.

What they found was a network of canals and fields stretching over 100 acres.  According to the Society for American Archaeology: “There were more than 250 well-preserved canals of various sizes and over a thousand bordered fields in multiple stratigraphic levels occupied over a period of 800 years.”

Read the rest of the story, including information on Discover Marana’s Culinary Tours, here.

Marana Town Talk Episode 4: Lock it or Lose it, Community engagement, Marana Film Office

Left to right: Tourism & Marketing Manager Laura Courtelyou, Police Sergeant Chriswell Scott, former Town Clerk Jocelyn Bronson

Left to right: Tourism & Marketing Manager Laura Courtelyou, Police Sergeant Chriswell Scott, former Town Clerk Jocelyn Bronson

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Town of Marana has released its fourth episode of "Marana Town Talk", a new government podcast that balances education and entertainment with thoughtful commentary on local current events. 

Communications Manager Vic Hathaway and Communications Specialist Brad Allis kick off the episode with a brief discussion on current events (0:50), followed by a discussion on safety tips with Marana Police Sergeant Chriswell Scott (5:36). Listeners can then learn more about the impacts former Town Clerk Jocelyn Bronson had on the community including details on the Marana Citizens Forum (14:53), before learning more about all the interesting ways Hollywood has used the Marana landscape in the past…and present (24:28). 

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KVOA: Town of Marana makes push to become movie shoot destination

Marana has a rich film history. It is known for its beautiful classic landscaped mountains and iconic saguaros--- a  picture perfect backdrop for Hollywood movies. 

"I couldn't believe how much was going on currently and also what the history was of filming since 1939 since the movie 'Arizona' was filmed here,"' said Laura Cortelyou, the Town of Marana's Tourism and Marketing Manager...

Inside Tucson Business: Marana brands itself a ‘Town of Gastronomy’


When Marana Mayor Ed Honea was a boy, he’d spend time wandering around his desert town, frequently discovering pottery sherds and arrowheads along the Santa Cruz riverbed and nearby slot canyons.

Unknowingly, he was retracing the footsteps that had originally left those items ever since humans started coming to the region back in 11,000 B.C. It was a cooler environment then, with the Ice Age coming to a close and clear streams bordered by grass-covered prairies bringing nomadic hunters in search of mammoth and bison.

Lots of changes have taken place during the intervening years with today’s bustling Marana moving forward with new ideas, while still celebrating its historic past....

Two Marana resorts earn high honors


With great places to stay, fun things to do, and close proximity to Interstate 10 and the rest of the region, Marana is a great vacation destination. Two Marana based hotels were recently recognized for their commitment to service and luxury.

The White Stallion Ranch Resort and the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain ere udged to be among the top-25 in two categories by TripAdvisor.

The White Stallion Ranch Resort was ranked 19th for Best Service in TripAdvisor's "Travelers' Choice Awards for Hotels" while the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain was the 25th most luxurious hotel in the United States. 

The winners are based on reviews collected by TripAdvisor over the past year. 

For more information on all of the great travel options within Marana and the surrounding areas, check out

El Tour de Tucson Marana 28-Mile Segment Photo Gallery

On Saturday, November 18 the Town of Marana hosted their second 28-Mile Segment of the El Tour de Tucson. The race drew well over 300 riders, who began their journey at the Marana Heritage River Park and winded their way through north Marana before heading south on I-10 and finishing the race in Downtown Tucson. 

Photos by J.D. Fitzgerald/

PRESS RELEASE: First UNESCO-Approved Gastronomy Tour Program in the U.S. now open in Marana, Arizona


MARANA, ARIZONA (November 8, 2017) –  Discover Marana, the tourism and marketing program of the Town of Marana, is pleased to announce the launch of the Marana Gastronomy Tour program. The tours will take a foodways journey back 1,000 years with Dr. Suzanne Fish, University of Arizona Emerita Professor and Arizona State Museum Curator, to Hohokam archaeological sites that Dr. Fish has studied for decades. Adventurers can sign up now. 

The five-hour adventure includes tastings of gourmet wild foods, Catalina Brewing Company’s craft beer made with wild foods, and concludes with a multi-course small plate tasting at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain in Marana. Offered twice a month, through April, the tours are limited to 13 people. The cost is $109 per person.

“Most people don’t know this area as being one of first places in North America where agriculture was practiced 4,000 years ago,” said Laura Cortelyou, Tourism and Marketing Manager for the Town of Marana. “Marana has rich cultural resources and is still a farming area. Growers provide produce to farm-to-table restaurants, BKW Farms grows White Sonora wheat that is used in local craft beer and artisanal baking by Barrio Bread. There are also wild foods educators that teach people how to responsibly harvest from the 450 edible plants in the Sonoran Desert, and beekeepers that produce mesquite and wildflower honey. The knowledge, talent, and creativity that is showcased on the Marana Gastronomy Tour makes a one-of-a-kind experience.”   

According to Jonathan Mabry, Ph.D., President of the Tucson City of Gastronomy nonprofit organization, “The Marana Gastronomy Tour program represents the spirit of the UNESCO Creative City designation. The tour provides a journey that illuminates the unique flavors and peoples, past and present, of the Sonoran Desert.”

Gray Line Tours Tucson is the tour provider and a third-generation family-owned business that has provided premier tours in, and from, Tucson for more than 100 years.

The Marana Gastronomy Tours are the first tours approved by UNESCO Creative Cities Network member, Tucson City of Gastronomy, the first City of Gastronomy in the U.S.  

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Marana Gastronomy Tour Reservations

For tour information visit .

For tour reservations visit .

Marana Visitor Center

13881 N. Casa Grande Hwy #100, Marana, AZ 85653

Monday – Thursday: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; Friday, 9:00 – noon; closed Saturday and Sunday

About Discover Marana

Discover Marana was created in 2014 by the Town of Marana’s Economic Development Department to promote visitation.

Marana is home to the Forbes Five Star-rated Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain resort, Tucson  Premium Outlets at Marana Center, and Topgolf Marana. Once home to the Accenture Match Play, Marana has nationally-renowned golf courses at Dove Mountain; including Dove Mountain Golf Club, The Gallery, and The Highlands. Marana hosts a start in El Tour de Tucson, the annual cycling event. Marana has the oldest agricultural irrigation canal system found in North America and numerous archeology sites. Hiking, biking, bird watching, and horseback riding are popular activities. For more information, please visit  Follow Discover Marana on Facebook and Instagram.

Ancient holes contain the secret to early civilization in Marana

Tourists study ancient mortar holes used by the Hohokam civilization to grind mesquite beans during 500-1450 A.D.

Tourists study ancient mortar holes used by the Hohokam civilization to grind mesquite beans during 500-1450 A.D.

Intrepid adventurers needn't travel far to take a peek at the remains of an ancient kitchen. They only need to travel a few miles from Interstate 10 as part of a new attraction created by the Town of Marana’s tourism program, Discover Marana, that will be offered by Gray Line Tours Tucson.

Ancient foodways, artisanal flavors, and Sonoran haute cuisine set the stage for the Marana Gastronomy Tour set to debut this fall. Tourists can expect to travel back thousands of years with University of Arizona professor emerita and Arizona State Museum Curator Dr. Suzanne Fish as they explore ancient archaeological sites of the Hohokam civilization, before returning to the present for a modern cuisine tasting infused with with ancient wild foods, ancient domesticated native foods, and post-1687 European foods. BKW Farm, Bean Tree Farm, Catalina Brewing Company, and Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain all take center stage during the epicurean showcase.

Left to right: Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain; Barrio Bread; Catalina Brewing Company

“Marana is situated on one of three places along the Santa Cruz River watershed that has supported the oldest agriculture systems in North America for more than four thousand years,” said Town of Marana Tourism Manager Laura Cortelyou. The gastronomy tour was designed to explore that rich history in the context of contemporary foods that use ancient flavors. 

Marana’s rich concentration of archaeological sites are relatively undisturbed, and are still yielding surprising discoveries such as the oldest agricultural irrigation canal system in North America found in 2009. Marana plays a significant role in the southern Arizona culinary networks through its own noteworthy restaurants and as a supplier to regional restaurants, farmer’s markets, and dining room tables.

The Marana Gastronomy Tour is the first tour approved by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Creative Cities Network member, Tucson City of Gastronomy, the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the U.S. The designation recognizes 13,000 years of habitation, 4,000 years of formal agriculture, the longest agricultural history of any city in North America, and 300 years of orchards and livestock ranching – a history shared by Marana and Tucson. More information can be found at .

Oh, and those ancient holes that contain a Hohokom secret? Consider them the Sonoran great-grandmother of the portable mortar and pestles (also known as mano y metate). The people of Marana more than one thousand years ago created these smooth bowls in the rock to grind their mesquite beans into fine powder for delicious patties. 

Click here for more information on Marana: Town of Gastronomy and the Marana Gastronomy Tours.

Left to right: Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain; Catalina Brewing Company

Marana represented at El Tour de Tucson press conference


For the third consecutive year the Town of Marana is sponsoring the El Tour de Tucson Perimeter Bike Race. It also marks the second year that the Town is hosting their own 28-mile segment of the race.

It is the 35th edition of the race, which according to race organizer Richard DeBernardis is the “longest running bicycle event in the state of Arizona.”

The annual press conference was held at the Mexican Consulate and DeBernardis said the idea is to make the race not only the pride of Tucson and Arizona, but Mexico as well.

“This is going to be the start of a long, great relationship,” DeBernardis said.

The race traditionally honors a person or persons who have contributed to the sport of cycling, philanthropy, or other positive endeavors. This year they honored Lila and Totten Warfield, who have been volunteering for 33 years and have celebrated over 70 years of marriage.

The Town of Marana shared the stage with race sponsors and community partners including Casino Del Sol, Easter Seals/Blake Foundation, Pima County Department of Transportation, and Tucson Medical Center.

“I want to express my excitement for this year’s El Tour De Tucson, and particularly for Marana’s 28-mile segment starting at the Marana Heritage River Park located in the heart of our Gladden Farms community,” said the Town of Marana’s Communications Manager Vickie Hathaway.” For the second year in a row, cyclists will see amazing views of the Tucson Mountain range, as well as discover Marana’s scenic open spaces as they ride toward the finish line."

Last year Marana welcomed over 350 racers to the Marana leg. The Marana leg boasts the shortest distance of any leg of the El Tour and was a major draw.

“Our shorter distance makes participating in the El Tour De Tucson more attractive for both younger and older riders, making it the perfect family experience for those seeking a less rigorous option, or for those wanting to test the waters for their first ride,” Hathaway said.

Marana’s proximity to Interstate-10, the Pima County Shared Use Path, and several great areas to ride, has allowed them to position themselves as a perfect “El Detour” before, after, and during the El Tour.

“Venture north onto Dove Mountain Blvd and take in the beauty of the Tortolita Mountains for your next training ride,” Hathaway said. “Enjoy music, food trucks and entertainment at our 28-mile Marana start, and celebrate your big finish by quenching your thirst with a locally brewed craft beer. Whether you’re a rider, spectator, or visitor, there are many things to do in Marana to prepare for and celebrate the race.”

Hathaway encouraged people to see for hotel, restaurant, and after-party information.

Make Marana your El Detour from the El Tour

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It does not matter if you are riding the full length of the El Tour de Tucson, taking advantage of the Marana start to the race, or just watching the cyclists ride by. Make Marana your El Detour before, after, and during the race.

With access to the Pima County Shared Use path, Tangerine Road and Silverbell Road, Marana has a number of great places to stay, eat, drink, train, and celebrate that are accessible by bike. 


The Pima County Shared Use Path, affectionately known as “The Loop”, is a great way for cyclists to get all over town. Although construction has cut off the southern portion of The Loop from the northern portion, there are still plenty of great places to bike in both directions.

After a training ride on the southern portion of the Loop or as the home to a post-Tour after party, the Catalina Brewing Company is a place to check out.

Catalina Brewing Company is no stranger to cyclists. In fact, they cater to them. Heck, their moniker is “We Bike, We Brew.” The brewery already has a mountain bicycling theme, and then embrace “the incredible outdoor spirit that exists in the Arizona Southwest.”

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The Catalina Brewing Company considers themselves a small (nano) craft brewery, and they manufacture and distribute a variety of craft beers designed and created from local ingredients with the southern Arizona market in mind. Their local-inspired brews range from the unique and popular Mesquite Agave to their lighter prickly pear fruit infused La Rosa de Catalina as well as seasonal favorites such as Mesquite Smoked Pecan Dopplebock and Teacher's Aid Scottish Ale.

They are also cyclist friendly. They’re accessible off the shared-use path, making them a perfect destination for those who like to cycle and enjoy a craft beer.  

Marana is becoming a haven for craft beer, with Dove Mountain and Button Breweries coming to town, and the recently opened Growler’s.

Cortaro/Silverbell Road

With the Loop affected by construction, Silverbell Road is a great way to bike from the Marana area to Tucson. The road twists and turns with several hills, making a great training ride. Add a variety of desert scenery, and you have a uniquely Southern Arizona opportunity.

Between Silverbell and the adjacent Cortaro corridor, there are a variety of places to eat, drink and stay.

From local Mexican restaurants and historical steak houses, to familiar national chains, this area of Marana has just about any type of food you can want.  

Nothing tastes better after a long ride than a cold, creamy ice cream cone, especially when that ice cream is made with all-natural ingredients. If that sounds good to you, then the Screamery would make a great destination.

The Screamery’s goal is to not only provide the best tasting hand-crafted ice cream to people, but to make it the old fashioned way using simple natural ingredients. Not only does it taste great, but it fits into the lifestyle of those who care what they put into their bodies.

If you make your way down to the Ina/Thornydale and still want some ice cream made from fresh, all natural ingredients, then check out La Garrafa. They serve Nieves de Garrafa, traditional ice cream from central Mexico. They make everything fresh in house, and don’t rely on a lot of extra sugar and fat, keeping the flavors fresh and pure.

Dove Mountain

hether you live, stay or train on Dove Mountain, there are plenty of things to do in and near the area. The mountain itself is perfect for both intense training rides and leisurely joy rides. From the back of one’s bike they can see the statuesque Saguaros, the great views and, more than likely, a desert critter or two.

A quick ride down Dove Mountain Boulevard. will lead you to Twin Peaks Road and a straight shot to Marana’s Tucson Premium Outlets. There, you can just get your morning coffee fix at Starbucks or do some serious shopping. The Premium Outlets feature all your favorite brands, but with the 25-65% savings that outlet shopping can provide. Deals like these are sure to please casual shoppers all the way to the most diehard shop-a-holics.

Looking for a good cup of coffee or tea on Dove Mountain? Then Savaya is your place. Savaya features a prominent green coffee roaster that is used weekly to roast coffees from around the world, giving true coffee lovers a wide variety of flavors to choose from.

Savaya invites their patrons to sit back, relax and spread out with the cup of joe. They have a mesquite wood bar, covered outdoor seating and even a children’s playground patio area. wins Silver Adrian Award

Marana, AZ –, the tourism website for the Town of Marana, has won a 2016 Silver Adrian Award for Website Design.

The award is to be presented in February by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI). The organization is committed to growing business for hotels and their partners, and is the industry’s leading advocate for intelligent, sustainable hotel revenue growth. Distinguished executives from all sectors of the industry judged the entries for the Silver Adrian Award.

“We are thrilled that Discover Marana’s website has received this industry award for achieving the ambitious goals of providing a sense of all that Marana has to offer while making it easy for people to find exactly what they need to enjoy their leisure time in our beautiful town,” said Laura Cortelyou, Tourism and Marketing Manager. has been recognized for being sleek, colorful, and responsive to all viewing devices. Viewers are immersed with visual highlights of Marana’s stunning scenery and attractions. The website features full screen HTML5 video, itinerary builder, social integration, and interactive mapping. Visitors can plan their entire trip through one portal and subscribe for updates through e-news integration. A regularly updated blog, consisting of content written both in-house and by those in the community, informs potential visitors of the amazing opportunities for recreation and leisure that exist in Marana, and the interactive event calendar displays current and upcoming events in the region, in a well-organized and comprehensive manner.

The Town of Marana established Discover Marana as a marketing entity to promote tourism to this Southern Arizona destination. Partnering with Tempest in 2015, Discover Marana came to life with a logo, branding elements, and website design that captured the area’s distinct beauty and history.

The creative process was unique in that it combined the efforts of several different departments and entities. Discover Marana, Tempest, and the Town of Marana’s Economic Development department and Marketing and Communications teams were heavily involved in the project. This allowed multiple perspectives on brand design, and how it would achieve the goals set forth by Discover Marana, while faithfully representing the Town as a community.

By positioning Marana as the gateway to Southern Arizona, the brand emphasizes the mix of modern amenities and historic Sonoran Desert setting of the town. The careful balance of branding activities, reinforced by the website design and functionality, allows Marana to present a cohesive experience that showcases one of the most luxurious resorts in the world, as well as limited service properties. In this way, Marana is shown as an attractive and close-knit community that can attract and serve a wide variety of travelers from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. The resulting website demonstrates the seamless integration of modern anesthetics that remain deeply rooted in Marana’s cultural heritage.

“Receiving national recognition for our Discover Marana website is a great honor and recognizes the value that we place on tourism and its benefits to our community,” said Curt Woody, Economic Development Director.

Whether visitors to Southern Arizona want to experience breathtaking hiking, excellent retail, or diverse dining options, from upscale to casual, can help them find what they’re looking for. 

Discover Marana: Celebrate La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Marana, Arizona

On February 20-28, rodeo participants and spectators from across the globe will descend on southern Arizona for one of the longest-running rodeo competitions anywhere in the world.  La Fiesta de los Vaqueros attracts a wide audience due to impressive performers and unmatched environs.  This year’s event promises to entertain as much as ever, and Marana has played a key role in sustaining and celebrating this proud tradition.