Southeastern Arizona is an ecological crossroads, where the Sierra Madre of Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, and the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts all come together. The abrupt rise of mountains like the Huachucas from the surrounding arid grasslands creates “sky islands” that harbor tremendous habitat diversity and form stepping stones to the tropics. This combination of factors gives Ramsey Canyon Preserve its notable variety of plant and animal life, including such southwestern specialties as Apache and Chihuahua pines, ridge-nosed rattlesnake, lesser long-nosed bat, elegant trogon, and berylline and violet-crowned hummingbirds.
The best months for birding at the preserve are April through September. Spring weather is unpredictable, though usually cool and dry. Early summer is generally dry and warm. In July and August, brief afternoon rainstorms can be a daily occurrence. Fall days are cool and bright. Occasional snows from late November through late March bring a dramatic change in the scenery.
A spring-fed stream, northeast orientation, and high canyon walls provide Ramsey Canyon with a moist, cool environment unusual in the desert Southwest. Water-loving plants such as sycamores, maples, and columbines line the banks of Ramsey Creek, often growing within a few feet of cacti, yucca, and agaves. Communities ranging from semi-desert grassland to pine-fir forest are found within the vicinity of Ramsey Canyon Preserve.
Ramsey Canyon and the Upper San Pedro River Basin are situated within the Apache Highlands ecoregion, which encompasses central and southeastern Arizona, southwest New Mexico, and the northern Sierra Occidental of Mexico.
Visiting the Preserve
Ramsey Canyon Preserve offers guided walks from March through November on an easy, shady trail. Guides share the lively natural and cultural history of the canyon, and explain why the canyon is rich in wildlife. You’ll likely spot a few deer, hummingbirds, reptiles, and insects. The preserve is open all year, closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. $6 per person, $3 for Nature Conservancy members, free admission for children under 16. Click here for a map.