Navopatia Field Station

The Navopatia Field Station is our field camp on the shores of the Agiabampo estuary. Here students, visitors, and locals alike can spend time in the coastal thornscrub and the waters of the Agiabampo estuary and the Sea of Cortez. The field station is where our research and monitoring efforts are centered. We welcome visitors, researchers, and school groups throughout the winter operating season (December- March).


Navopatia Field Station

The Navopatia Field Station is our field camp on the shores of the Agiabampo estuary. Here students, visitors, and locals alike can spend time in the coastal thornscrub and the waters of the Agiabampo estuary and the Sea of Cortez. The field station is where our research and monitoring efforts are centered. We welcome visitors, researchers, and school groups throughout the winter operating season (December- March).

Navopatia Field Station is an off-grid field camp on the Agiabampo Estuary/Sea of Cortez, 14 kilometers north of the Sonora/Sinaloa border, open from December through mid March.  The Station is a long day’s drive south of Tucson.


We offer rustic, comfortable accommodations to students, researchers, and eco-tourists interested in natural history. We live and work closely with the local community and are a great outlet for personal cultural exchange.

The rustic lodging gives visitors the unique opportunity to engage the natural surroundings and live in rugged conditions with great food and an unmatched atmosphere. Our accommodations include rooms in naturally built buildings, spacious wall tents, a camping space, and an elegant casita that sleeps two.

Three excellent meals are provided each day. Toilet facilities are open-air pit toilets. There is a propane heated shower. The station is off the grid, far from power lines and water service. All freshwater is collected from rain catchment and carefully conserved.

We have a small fleet of kayaks and canoes to explore the estuary and access study sites. We also have an extensive reading library which includes scientific reference materials, field guides, novels, and general reading material.

Many recreational opportunities are available in the vicinity, including: swimming, hiking, bird watching, dolphin watching (we sometimes are able to swim with dolphins), and many others. Guided bird tours can be arranged with experienced guides in motorized watercraft, kayaks, on foot, or auto.

Many visitors stay for weeks or months, while others come just for a day of birding or kayaking.

The land surrounding the field station is a beautiful Organ Pipe Cactus (Pitaya) forest found nowhere else on earth. It offers excellent opportunities for exploring and discovery. Reservations can be made on our website.

Stay Rates: 
Per person: (all full stay rates include use of kayaks, 3 prepared meals, water, full sleeping accommodations and use of all other amenities. Members deduct $5 from all full stay prices. Student/Research rates available upon request.)
1 night: full accommodations -$45 US donation

1 night: camping-$35 US donation

1 night: casita - $55 US donation

*Memberships can be obtained onsite or by emailing  (see below for driving directions)

Activity Rates:
Day use of Kayaks: $10 per day per person
Single meals: $10 per person per meal
Guided Boat/Bird Tours: $150 per boat (8 people max) 
If you would like a tour please contact us two weeks prior to the date you wish to tour. 
We are open early December to late March.
Space is extremely limited, so we do ask that you make reservations prior to your visit. For reservations please contact:
647-115-7964 (Mexico) (preferred)


What do I need to bring with me?

The field station is in a very remote area and you will need to bring a few extra things with you if you are planning on staying for more than a couple of days. Three delicious meals and water are included with your stay, though cocktails, beer and similar sundries are not included in the nightly rate.


Be prepared for cloudy, foggy weather, as well as warm, sunny, (dare I say hot?) weather. Nights are cool, so a jacket is a nice thing to have with you. It is advisable to wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and close-toed shoes while walking in the cactus dominated thorn forest.

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Warm hat
  • Sunhat

Other items:

  • Books: we have a great collection of books and always love to add to the library. Bring your favorites, you can leave them if you like, or take them home. Reading is a favorite past-time of visitors.
  • Camera
  • Cards
  • Tools (screwdrivers, wrenches, cheap wood saws, etc. These all make great gifts to local folks, and sometimes we need them too!)
  • Binoculars
  • Headlamp/Flashlight w/ batteries
  • Sleeping Bag (if you are camping, or if you know you are a cold sleeper)
  • Tent and ground pad (if you are camping)
  • Musical instruments (we have a few but if you like to play)
  • Water Bottle
  • Toys (for gifts e.g. balls, etc for local kids inexpensive, dollar store stuff is fine)
  • School supplies for local kids (pencils, pens, spiral notebooks, etc. It can be quite expensive here and we donate school supplies to local students and schools.

Driving Directions

Driving Directions

Traveling South from Navojoa on Mex15, you will see a Pemex gas station on your right (Los Toltecas).  This will be approximately 37 miles South of Navojoa and is your last chance to gas up before heading to the station.

Shortly after the Pemex at Los Toltecas, you will see a sign for Ejido Juan Escutia and a kilometer marker 91.  Take the first right after the Km 91marker and reset your trip odometer.

You will drive through Ejido Juan Escutia, then at 0.3 miles cross over an irrigation canal.

Continue on this road until 1.5 miles then turn Left, there will be fields on both sides of the road.

At 2.5 miles you will cross over another irrigation canal, continue straight and pass through Ejido Alvaro Obregon at 4.0 miles.  At the far side of this ejido you will go over a cattlegaurd.

Continue on this road and at 4.9 miles veer right, there are powerlines on the left side of the road.  Follow them and the road most traveled, at around 7.9 miles you will cross over another cattlegaurd.

Keep traveling forward, shortly after the cattlegaurd the road will curve back and forth through the powerline poles.  This road changes slightly every year so just relax and take the most traveled.  You will pass through Ejido Las Aguilas which doesn't have a sign but is where the powerlines end.

On the far end of this ejido (town) there will be some more fields on both sides of the road and then at 11.2 miles there will be a white sign on the left side of the road that says "Bahia de Agiabampo es mas limpio ….." After this sign you will see Pitayal (cactus forest) on both sides of the road.

Continue forward until you reach Navopatia.  You will see a few houses and part of the estuary.  At 13.5 miles veer left.

Then at  13.7 miles veer right.  This is the road that leads into Navopatia Field Station.  You have arrived.








Adam Hannuksela     |

Adam Hannuksela (Director of Research) Adam has been living part time in, and calling Navopatia home since 2002.  He grew up throughout the Western United States and received his B.S. from The Evergreen State College and a Masters degree at Central Washington University..  He has worked as a field biologist in the states of; California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Sonora, Washington, and Wyoming.  In addition to helping run the station, he supervises field crews, networks with local partners and stakeholders, as well as heading all of NFS’s research and monitoring programs.  He is interested in wintering bird/habitat distributions, and the natural history of xeric lands.

Sallie Herman            |

Sallie Herman (Botanist & Station Manager) grew up in Washington state studying natural history.  She received her B.S. and Masters degree from Central Washington University.  She has been a botanist and field biologist for several state and federal agencies as well as a number of non-profits since 1994, working all over the west.  She is in charge of plant ecology projects and other field programs at the station.  She also runs the day to day operations.

Steve Herman            |

Dr. Steven G. Herman is ultimately responsible for the establishment of NFS and serves on the Board of Directors. For three decades he has taught vertebrate zoology and natural history and introduced students to native wild landscapes throughout North and Central America. He continues to teach students at The Evergreen State College as a professor emeritus. His past and current research focuses on natural history, desert and shrubsteppe ecosystems, toxicology and conservation of raptors, and maintaining natural history and conservation as sciences in their own right.

Luis Portino Mendivil Alvarez

“Tino” has lived in Navopatia since childhood.  He is a fisherman who has become an exquisite boatman for tour groups.  He has attended bird guide training workshops and has become indispensable in assisting with NFS’s field studies. He assists with station maintenance. Most of his time is spent assisting with field projects and our intern and banding programs. 

Guadalupe “Lupita” Mendivil Alvarez

Lupita has lived in Navopatia since childhood.  She has been with the field station through all of its incarnations and is the station cook.  She has prepared thousands of world famous meals for a wide range of people and never disappoints.  She is no longer afraid of Boa Constrictors.

Bianka Mendivil Mendivil

Bianka works in the kitchen with her mom, Lupita.  She grew up in Las Aguilas  and Navopatia and is a wonderful cook.  She has two beautiful daughters that spend time at the station  as well.

Joaquin Olea Cota

Joaquin has been in Navopatia for several decades. He is the only year- round resident of the fishing village. He is an inspiration to all and helps out all over Navopatia and at the station. He leads medicinal plant walks, helps with spanish, and lends a hand in building projects. He is also a caretaker for the rest of the community.