Casa Petra Vera





If you can’t imagine an island or archipelago rising from something other than sea, let us introduce you to the region where that concept was defined. Casa Petra Vera will be a guest house here to learn and sojourn.



At the southeast corner of the State of Arizona, is a super-convergence of activity: animal, vegetable, mineral, atmospheric, and cultural.

Between the temperate Rocky Mountains and subtropical Sierra Madres, where a marriage of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts parts the otherwise nearly unbroken geological range of the Americas’ entire Pacific hem; a dry archipelago vaults layers of biomes, from desert basin to subalpine peaks, into lucid sky.




Unlike more panoramic wonder in areas such as the Grand and Bryce Canyons, monumental proportions of what is called the Sky Island Archipelago are somewhat veiled to untrained eyes - a systemic complexity best revealed by patient observation.

The wealth of wildlife here, including species evolving on soaring mountains isolated by arid expanses, evokes Galapagos and Amazonia-like paradigms of rarity and diversity in a compact desert nucleus. The less than 145 mile length of the San Pedro River alone contains more native vertebrate species than the nearly 3,500 square miles of Yellowstone National Park.




Here, a dozen wildflower species may be identified in a single square yard, and more than half the species of flora present are found no where else on the planet. Its topographical underpinning, the Sonoran Desert, has evolved the greatest diversity of botanical architecture of any arid habitat in the world -  a teeming exemplar of engineering strategies for coping with scarce water and intense heat.

More species of bees are found in this region than in the rest of the United States combined. It provides both the southernmost spread of pure spruce-fir forest on the continent, and the northernmost territory of endangered jaguars from the south.

It is the only place in the United States reached by a member of the trogon bird family, which includes Mesoamerica’s mythologized quetzal. In fact, one in four of all bird species breeding north of Mexico, from Alaska to Greenland, nest in the area; not to mention likely the highest combined diversity and density of earth’s nesting raptors near Cave Creek Canyon, in the Chiricahua Mountains. The American Museum of Natural History Southwest Research Station was established precisely there in 1955.



The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which leads diagnoses of our planet’s biodiversity, and the only environmental organization with official United Nations Observer Status, designates the Sky Island Archipelago as one of the few great biodiversity centers outside of the tropics.

Having exceptional darkness and vantage points for celestial view, Sky Islands are foundations for two globally prominent observatories. The United States National Observatory, one of the largest existing collections of optical telescopes, is at Kitt Peak; and UOA’s International Observatory at Mount Graham, housing one of the most technologically advanced telescopes, is utilized by astrophysicists from around the world.

The region is presently home to at least seventeen indigenous cultures, as well as Anglo, Latin-American, and more recent immigrant cultures. It has inspired science and art across eons, from hands that wedged stones in crevices a millennium ago to cast shadows precisely marking the spring equinox on petroglyph murals, to Vladimir Nabokov’s work on one of the most lauded novels of the 20th century in the Chiricahua foothills during days too windy for his field lepidopterology; to continuing science, artistry, and activism of local tribes members - and countless other cultural endeavors interwoven between.



Tucson, the region’s urban center, has evolved upon the longest known continuous history of agricultural cultivation in the United States - over 4100 years - our nation’s origin site of historic civilization. With recognition of this history, Tucson was the first U.S. city to be selected for Gastronomy by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

Archeological sites, atmospheric clarity, habitat, migration routes, breeding grounds, and food and water security throughout this unparalleled hotspot - entrusted by history within the borders of the United States - are profoundly vulnerable to physical barriers, resource extraction, climate disruption, and pollution of all types.




As the world’s biodiversity is rapidly declining, anything other than determined conservation of the Sky Island region would be negligence. It is our aim that such conservation illuminate study, accommodations, and ongoing projects at what will be our refuge here.

Focused on ecological stewardship and the junction of arts and science, Casa Petra Vera will be sheltered by the Chiricahua Mountains, in an environment of singular biodiversity and celestial view. Our purpose will be to accommodate objective research and productive solace in the cradle of this environment, preserved for common peace of mind.

— Mariano Spina Novoa & Melinda Matson Spina


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Mark