Upper Southeast Tucson including Vail, Rita Ranch, and Civano

Vail, Civano & Rita Ranch: Upper Southeast Tucson

A helpful guide to the Upper Southeast part of Tucson (this includes Rita Ranch, Civano, and most parts of Vail, Arizona, ) for newcomers and native Tucsonans, alike. The Tucson Metro area consists of a whopping 9,189 square miles. This guide is to help you narrow down what area of Tucson you’d like to live in based on your lifestyle. Learn about the history of the area, about some of the popular neighborhoods, what amenities and services are located here, and search homes for sale in Vail and Rita Ranch in the Upper Southeast part of Tucson. Your questions are welcome! Hello@RealTucson.com

Top 5 Reasons to Live in Vail and Rita Ranch area:

  • Highly rated Vail School District
  • Rincon Mountain views
  • Close to Saguaro National Park East
  • Can be close to I-10 freeway
  • Variety of housing options runs the gamut from suburban neighborhoods, to higher-end custom homes, to master planned communities, to 55+ age restricted neighborhoods, to manufactured homes on a couple acres.

General Location:

Tucson Multiple Listing Service (MLS) MLS splits the southeastern part of Tucson into 2 sections: Upper Southeast and Southeast. “Upper Southeast” is defined as most of Vail and Rita Ranch areas. This area’s borders are I-10 to the south, Wilmot Road to the west, Irvington to the north, and Saguaro National Park East to the east.

The zip codes in Upper Southeast include 85641, 85730, 85747, and 85756.

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Description of Upper southeast Tucson

The Upper Southeast side of Tucson is a large area of land that varies quite a bit from tract home neighborhoods to custom home neighborhoods, to large parcels of land with manufactured homes. It’s an area that has had rapid growth for the last 30 years.

Upper Southeast Tucson History and Development

Vail, Arizona was named for the Vail Ranch, owned by brothers Edward and Walter Vail who arrived in the area in the late 1870s. In addition to cattle ranching, they also developed a silver mine in the nearby Empire Mountains. In 1880, the train made it’s arrival in Southern Arizona and part of the Vail Ranch was donated for use by the railway, which included a railroad stop for the small community.

Fast forward to the early-1980s, IBM opened a facility in the Vail area which brought thousands of employees to the Vail and Southeast Tucson area. Then in the late-1980s, IBM moved most of their facilities and most of their employees to other areas of the country. Eventually, the IBM buildings were converted into the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park. The Tech Park is designed as a business incubator and now houses several businesses including Raytheon, Oracle America, Global Solar Energy, and a smaller IBM office.

By the late 1990s and early 2000s, Vail School District began to earn national accolades as well as a great reputation from parents and students which helped drive more growth and development to the area.

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Architecture of Vail and Upper Southeast Tucson

Most homes in the area are newer-style stucco homes usually with a 2-car or 3-car attached garage, built from the 1990s to present time. Custom homes are available in Vail, usually on larger parcels of land that often allow horses. Manufactured homes are common in many rural areas of Vail.

Rita Ranch

In the early and mid-1990s to 2000s, Rita Ranch was developed consisting of several home builders in a master-planned community.


The eco-friendly Civano neighborhood held it’s grand opening in 1999. In 2004 Sunset Magazine named the colorful southwestern-style community the “Best New Community”. The neighborhood was planned to have a town center with local businesses at the core. The initial plan was scaled down a bit but the popular neighborhood retains a certain charm.

Rancho Del Lago

In the early 2000s, growth kept expanding further out into Vail with the Del Webb development of Rancho Del Lago, borrowing it’s name from an area ranch built in the 1930s.

Rocking K

And growth is continuing to expand in the Vail area with the new Rocking K master-planned community with homes built by Pulte, KB Homes, Lennar, and Richmond American.

Age Restricted neighborhoods in Vail

The upper southeast area of Tucson has a couple age restricted communities: Academy Village (aka Altura), and portions of Rancho Del Lago. Both offer amenities and activities to their residents.

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Popular Upper Southeast Tucson Neighborhoods

  • Civano
  • Rita Ranch
  • Rocking K
  • La Estancia
  • Rancho Del Lago
  • Sierra Morado
  • Academy Village (Altura)
  • Saguaro Trails

Upper Southeast Tucson Attractions and Amenities

Public Parks and Recreation

Purple Heart Park is located in the heart of Rita Ranch and features ballfields, a skate park, a pool, and a dog park. Some neighborhoods have community parks for example, Sierra Morado, Saguaro Trails, Rancho Del Lago, and La Estancia.

Colossal Cave Mountain Park

Colossal Cave offers a few different cave tours. The Park’s 2400 acres can also be explored by hiking, biking, or a trail ride. Did you know camping is available there too?

Colossal Cave is a cool place to visit in the summer months
Colossal Cave is a cool place to visit in the summer months

Mountain Biking

Fantasy Island is a park with several trails exclusively for mountain bikers.

Mountain biking at Fantasy Island, with trails that lead into the desert on Tucson's east side
Mountain biking at Fantasy Island, with trails that lead into the desert on Tucson’s east side

Hiking Trails

Hiking is available in Davidson Canyon near Cienega Creek at the Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead. There are lots of trails to explore in Saguaro National Park East and the Rincon Mountains.

The Loop Multi-Use Path and Parks

The Loop is an extensive 130+ mile long, paved, car-free trail for walking, jogging, and bicycling that touches most parts of Tucson. For the southeast area, the Loop cuts through the desert at Harrison south of Irvington, then turns to follow the Julian Wash. A proposed expansion may extend the loop along the banks of the Pantano Wash in Vail sometime in the future.


Golfing is available at the Del Lago Golf Club within Rancho Del Lago neighborhood.


There’s a large shopping center located at Houghton and Old Vail Road with several big box stores and plenty of chain restaurants to choose from. More shopping and services can be found along other areas of Houghton Road as well. Civano has a few locally owned shops and a popular nursery.

Rincon Valley Farmers Market

The Rincon Valley Farmers and Artisan Market is open every Saturday off of Old Spanish Trail.

Area Healthcare and Hospitals

Medical clinics and a variety of doctors offices are available along Houghton Road. Northwest Emergency Center is located at Old Vail Road near Houghton.

Vail School District

Southeast Tucson is located within the nationally recognized Vail School District.

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