Arizona Border Town: What is it like to live by and visit Naco, Mexico?

Naco, Mexico

Have you ever wondered what it was like to live by a border town? How about what it is like to visit a border town? On my recent stay in Hereford, Arizona, I was fortunate to be able to visit the Arizona border town of Naco. Here are all my photos from my short afternoon exploring Naco, Mexico.

Naco, Mexico

Arizona Border TownCattle in Arizona with the Huachuca Mountains

White cow in Arizona with the Mule Mountains
Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) over Sierra Vista, AZ

Living in an Arizona border town is relatively quiet. Walking outside, you might hear an occasional neigh from a horse or a cattle snort. At night, you can listen to crickets loud as can be and the occasional cries of a coyote in the distance. It is very peaceful here, and it is rare to hear a border patrol helicopter flying by. But the one thing that is certain is that the border patrol has a presence here. You will see the border patrol trucks driving up and down the roads, and on sunny days, you can even see the Aerostat flying high above Fort Huachuca, keeping an eagle eye on the comings and goings along the border wall.

Closed buildings in Naco: Arizona border town

I’m not sure how these border towns are in regular times, but with the current COVID climate, things look dismal. Many buildings are boarded up and closed on both sides of the border wall. Not sure if these are recent or have been like this for a while. But, one significant observation is that few people are walking around or visiting these towns. This is disappointing as a considerable amount of history down here is begging to be explored and enjoyed, from the historical Camp Naco (home of the Buffalo Soldiers) to the copper mines in Bisbee.

The other thing I’ve noticed with people living in Arizona border towns is that they have a completely different viewpoint from what people have lived in the middle of the United States. And I think a lot of that is because of media bias and what story they are trying to sell. From my standpoint, living down here that these Arizona towns are peaceful, quiet, and a beautiful place to live and visit.

Process for Crossing Back and Forth to Naco, MexicoHeather in Naco, Mexico

The process of crossing over to Mexico is straightforward. You must park your vehicle in Naco on the Arizona side and walk through the border control gate outside the building to Mexico. When you step back to the Arizona side, you have to go inside. The signs are misleading and tend to point you to walk back the way you came in. Don’t do that! Trust me; the guards will have no problem telling you that you are in the wrong place. You have to go through border control, which is inside. The border crossing is available 24 hours a day.

Exploring Naco, MexicoView of Naco toward Arizona

Main street in Naco, Mexico

Spending an afternoon exploring Naco (which means people of hot land) was fascinating. Even though many of the businesses were closed, it was still enjoyable to walk around the town. We walked down the main street from the border crossing, looking for a tortilla place. My friend, Janet, raved about buying amazing tortillas in Naco, and she was determined to find the location where she bought them from last time. We walked up and down the street and even stopped to ask at a restaurant that had some lovely smells wafting from the open door. Although the restaurant owner went out of their way to help us and point us in the right direction, we didn’t find any tortillas.

Colorful Buildings in Naco, Mexico

On the walk up and down the main avenue, I was busy taking photos of all the little extras that Naco had to show off their town. I took pictures of their statues, little mining rail cars, beautiful Mexican houses with courtyards, and every cute display that I saw. I can only imagine what a different feel this town has when all the businesses are open, and people are coming and going. As for safety, Janet and I felt completely safe walking around the town. For those who are worried, the police station is on the main street directly down from the border.

Health and WellnessDentist in Naco, Mexico

One of the main reasons many Arizona border town residents cross over to Mexico is to take advantage of the low costs of dentistry work and refilling prescriptions in pharmacies. I was astounded by how much you can save by taking advantage of this opportunity. If you are worried about whether they have top-of-the-line equipment, all you have to do is check out reviews or, better yet, word of mouth by your neighbors.

When we found out that half of Janet’s neighbors that she knows come over to the same dentist, we went and checked out the place. The dentist can take 3D X-rays and is entirely up-to-date with all the latest equipment and procedures. And they are following COVID recommendations, with masks and social distancing practices. I might even have to schedule an appointment the next time I’m down this way.

Street Art in Naco, MexicoStreet Art in the border town of Naco, Mexico

Mountain scene street art in Naco, Mexico
Volcano street art alcove in Naco, Mexico
Butterfly House in Naco, Mexico
Ofrenda in Mexico

Of course, I will find it anywhere I visit if they have street art. I was so happy to see these on several buildings while walking into town. They were so colorful and spirited. Plus, I love the message on the first one! I even included a colorful ofrenda, which is a collection of objects placed on an altar to remember and honor the memory of lost loved ones, and somebody added chalk drawings to the bottom of the altar.

Flowers in Naco, Mexico

White with purple gazania daisy flower in Mexico

Silverleaf nightshade flower in Mexico
Red flower in Mexico

I’m always continuously on the lookout for extraordinary things when I travel. And when a pop of color catches my eye, I’m drawn to it like a moth to a flame. These pops of color happen to be gorgeous flowers that were sporadically found around town.


A short trip to an Arizona border town and crossing into Mexico led to a surprising and entertaining afternoon. This border town is colorful with its street art, flowers, and its people. Everyone we met was so friendly that I would love to return. Have you visited a border town? How was your visit?

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Further Reading

If you are coming to Arizona for a visit, check out these posts for further travel inspiration:

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  • Lu 16June2022 at 2:26 PM Reply

    Thanks for the info. Just FYI that Naco actually means “people of the hot lands.” Nopal(es) is prickly pear cactus.

    • Heather 16June2022 at 5:00 PM Reply

      Thank you for the clarification. I fixed it.

  • liam 13June2022 at 7:04 PM Reply

    how much would it cost me to rent a very, Very small (one room/shower, etc.) in Naco, Mexico?

    • Heather 13June2022 at 7:32 PM Reply

      Sorry, that I don’t know. You could check on google and see if you can find anything to rent that way.

  • Natalie 12June2022 at 2:38 PM Reply

    Shared this on my fb page because living here and working with the public, i can see a lot of people have a skewed opinion of what it’s like living here. Your article seems pretty accurate from my experience.

    • Heather 12June2022 at 7:01 PM Reply

      Thanks, Natalie! I keep going down to the Sierra Vista area and love that whole area.

  • MARK & BECKY ARENDT 24June2021 at 8:13 PM Reply

    Nice article. My sister lives close by in Arizona and I’ve always wanted to go down into Naco.
    Would you know of a doctor to get prescriptions from?

  • Betty Tuccio 30May2021 at 5:35 PM Reply

    Can you give me the name of the dentist? Thank you

    • Heather 20June2021 at 11:56 AM Reply

      Martinez DDS, the whole practice is Martinez. My friend goes to Mario Martinez.

      • Mark 27January2022 at 7:27 PM Reply

        Mario Martinez who works at the practice of Dr. Jose Victor Martinez
        Libertad No. 65
        Naco, Sonora, Mex.
        (520) 366-3802

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