Patty

Wildlife viewing in the US South West

38 posts in this topic

 

The George Walker House is sort of a hybrid self-catering / bed-and-breakfast place to stay. It is not that far off I-10 in Paradise, Arizona near Portal, at higher elevation in the Chiricahua Mountains. It has bird feeders and water features that bring in a variety of wildlife, and the owners are good naturalists and birders with an expansive library and plenty of local knowledge and contacts.http://www.thegeorgewalkerhouse.com/http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g31321-d1236185-Reviews-The_George_Walker_House-Portal_Arizona.html

 

Would you recommend staying there vs camping in the national monument?

 

@@Patty - as a follow-up: if you are keen to see Pronghorn Antelope, Las Cienagas National Conservation Area has them. And it is much closer to I-10 than Buenos Aires NWR and is only a 45-minute drive from Tucson. Odds of sighting Pronghorn may be a little bit lower than in BANWR but Las Cienagas has a greater variety of habitat - riparian, freshwater marshes (cienagas), and of course excellent grasslands.

 

http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/blm_special_areas/ncarea/lascienegas.html

 

http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/blm_special_areas/ncarea/lascienegas/wildlife.html

 

What's a good base for Las Cienegas? Would you day trip from Tucson or is there some place closer/better/more central, perhaps to include Whitewater Draw too?

 

Trying to strike a balance between not day tripping too far and not constantly packing/unpacking either, thanks!

@@Patty - Benson, AZ is on I-10 between Las Cienagas and Whitewater Draw. I have not stayed in that town and do not know if any lodging is available, but let me do some research and email a couple of friends to check.

 

In terms of the question about George Walker house vs a campground - some of the campgrounds in the area may be closed for the winter. I will check on that too. In terms of weather - I don't think it snows at those lower elevations in December unless a freak storm comes along, but let me check on that too. If you do either choice, be sure to visit the nearby American Museum of Natural History's Southwest Research Station. The gift shop is fabulous and the grounds are full of wildlife. Plenty of small mammals and birds even in December.

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I found a B&B near Pearce that looks like it would be within reasonable day trip distance to the west side of the Chiricahuas as well as Whitewater Draw. Maybe I could find another base for Las Cienegas or do that from Tucson. Looks like there's quite a bit to see in Southeast AZ, an area I'd never given any thought to previously!

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Patty, we moved to Tucson 6 months ago (from Sacramento area). We actually live on the border of Catalina State Park and the wildlife is great down here. In my experience, the advice you have gotten from others is spot on. Our personal favorite places are Cave Creek Canyon and Madera Canyon but there are tons of other places. Before moving we did a road trip from Phoenix to Bosque Del Apache with stops along the way. It was great. I can recommend places to stay at Bosque, Madera Canyon and Cave Creek Canyon. Madera is a bit out of your way but worth it in my opinion. Also, Florida Canyon next door to it is an up and coming birding area.

 

Just to give you an indication of the wildlife here. In the 6 months since we moved in our list of different species on our 1 acre property is up to 48 birds, 9 snakes (18 total herps but winter time will be bad to see any), and 10 mammals.

 

If you have any particular questions about places around Tucson, along 10, or at Boque del Apache feel free to respond or PM me.

 

 

 

@@SafariChick - Those are AWESOME condor pics. We missed out at Pinnacles National Monument when we went looking for them. Now I know another good spot thanks to you.

 

Alan

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Patty, we moved to Tucson 6 months ago (from Sacramento area). We actually live on the border of Catalina State Park and the wildlife is great down here. In my experience, the advice you have gotten from others is spot on. Our personal favorite places are Cave Creek Canyon and Madera Canyon but there are tons of other places. Before moving we did a road trip from Phoenix to Bosque Del Apache with stops along the way. It was great. I can recommend places to stay at Bosque, Madera Canyon and Cave Creek Canyon. Madera is a bit out of your way but worth it in my opinion. Also, Florida Canyon next door to it is an up and coming birding area.

 

Just to give you an indication of the wildlife here. In the 6 months since we moved in our list of different species on our 1 acre property is up to 48 birds, 9 snakes (18 total herps but winter time will be bad to see any), and 10 mammals.

 

~ @@Atdahl

 

Your wildlife list is IMPRESSIVE!

To observe that many species in half a year is quite an achievement.

You've found an ideal spot to live.

I've lived in Scottsdale, Carefree, and Nogales. The birds, reptiles and mammals were a continual source of pleasure.

Living beside Catalina State Park must be great fun!

Thanks for telling this to @@Patty, to expand her options, and to remind the rest of us how nice Arizona wildlife is.

Tom K.

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Thanks @@Atdahl! I would love suggestions for places to stay. Have you been to Whitewater Draw or Wilcox Playa and if so, how do they compare with Bosque del Apache? What stops did you make on the road trip between Phoenix and Bosque del Apache?

Edited by Patty

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Hi Patty. Yes, to Whitewater Draw, No to Wilcox Playa. But, I can't imagine anything comparing to BdA during Crane and Snow Geese season. Whitewater Draw was nice but I would rather be at BdA since there isn't much to Whitewater Draw. If you don't mind a little reading here are some trip reports from our two journeys down here before we moved. They contain places we visited along the ways and places where we stayed including some links to my Tripadvisor reviews.

 

January 2010 (Includes Bosque del Apache): http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2010/01/117-to-118-in-arizona-patagonia-lake.html

 

We returned to SE Arizona in Sept 2011 (no BdA this trip): http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2011/09/se-arizona-day-1-and-2.html

 

The great Manager at Quailway Cottage in Portal (gateway to Cave Creek Canyon) has moved on but the reviews are still good on Tripadvisor and we will definitely return there to spend more time in that area.

 

So, if you have any questions about stuff in the reports, feel free to ask.

 

Also, if you plan to stay in the Tucson area at all we know a nice VRBO in Catalina (a few houses away from us which is how we found out about the area). Also, there are a few decent wildlife places in and around Tucson as well. If you think you will spend any time around here let me know and I can provide more specifics.

 

Happy reading.

 

Alan

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Enjoyed your reports @@Atdahl! I have this image of our entire trip being one massive storm with the predicted El Nino :D

 

What time of day did you get to Whitewater Draw? We're thinking of a couple of nights in Tucson as well so any suggestions near the city would be great.

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@@Patty this sounds like a wonderful trip, looking forward to the TR and photo already!

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@@Patty, we were at Whitewater Draw mid-day since we had lunch there. Not the best time for sure but it was still worth the stop.

 

Here is a link to the VRBO we stayed in that made us fall in love with Catalina.

 

We also stayed at a Hampton Inn once but I won't recommend that..

 

I am not sure what to expect weather wise. It sure can be unpredictable...but it can also be perfect for weeks on end.

 

Alan

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@@Atdahl Any other recs in Tuscon in addition to Catalina and the Desert Museum? I don't see a link to the VRBO.

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Hi Patty, sorry about the link. I know I copied it but must have forgotten to paste it. Here it is:

 

http://www.vrbo.com/507134

 

Regarding other recommendations, we are still getting to know the area. We really like Catalina State Park and the Sweetwater Wetlands on the west side of town are nice as well. There won't be any herps out in the winter but there should still be plenty of birds and mammals. Here are a couple of good sites to look at:

 

AZ Watchable Wildlife:

http://www.azwatchablewildlife.org/index.php/viewing-regions/soutnernmenu

 

Tucson Audubon Rare Bird Sightings (Their site has a wealth of SE AZ bird info):

http://www.tucsonaudubon.org/rba.html

 

Hope this helps. Give a shout if you have more questions.

 

Alan

 

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Thanks for the links, Alan! Have fun exploring your new home town. We've been here a year and a half and are still doing the same.

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Anything worth stopping for in West Texas other than the places that are already on our list?

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