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Cochise and Hummingbirds in Southeastern Arizona

Updated on August 18, 2015

A Tour of Southeastern Arizona

Sunny southeastern Arizona is well known for its birding opportunities. The mild climate and variety of habitats makes it a great place for animals and plants both common and rare. Although known for hummingbirds, there are plenty of other birds to watch out for in southeastern Arizona as well. While looking for birds, don't forget to take in the history of the area. In this lens, we'll take a trip beginning in Tucson, Arizona and travel south and east to explore the birds, the natural wonders and the history on our way to Willcox.

We'll begin with a lesson in science at the Colossal Cave and Kartchner Caverns. Take a tour to learn about the environment inside a cave. Next is Fort Huachuca which is an active military base offering two excellent museums for a look into the history of the U.S. Army. The Coronado National Memorial celebrates Francisco Vasquez de Coronado's expedition that resulted in cultural influences in the area.

Next we'll stop in Sierra Vista, a hub for a lot of things to see and do in the area. Bring on the birds at the San Pedro House where you can learn about the birds who migrate along the San Pedro River or at the Ramsey Canyon Preserve.

East of Sierra Vista is the town of Bisbee, founded by Judge DeWitt Bisbee, founder of the Copper Queen Mine. You can take a tour of the mine, then a tour the historical section of Bisbee with its grand homes and Warren Ballpark, the oldest continuously used ballpark in the U.S. Don't miss the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum or the Muheim Museum Heritage House.

Everyone is familiar with the story of Tombstone, the town well known for being the most lawless cities on the frontier. Today, you can visit the O.K. Corral as well as the Bird Cage Theatre, Pioneer Home Museum, Boothill Graveyard, and Tombstone Western Heritage Museum.

On the way through Coronado National Forest, we'll stop at Cochise Campground which is located in the Cochise Canyon, famous for the Native American Cochise Stronghold. Trails in the campground tell of the history.

Colossal Cave Mountain Park

More than just a cave, the park is filled with opportunities for exploring, education and fun. You can also camp in the park. What you'll find:

  • Colossal Cave - Take a guided tour of the cave. You'll learn of its history, legends and geology.

  • Ladder Tour - This special cave tour of parts of the cave not open to the general public. You get a hard hat for areas where scrambling is required.

  • Wild Cave Tour - If the Ladder Tour is not crazy enough for you, try the Wild Cave Tour. Your guide will take you place of the early explorers where it is unmarked and unlit. You must be physically fit, agile and able to scale obstacles.

  • Candlelight Tours - See the Colossal Cave by candlelight. See the cave in its original beauty.

  • Trail Rides - Guided horseback rides take you from La Posta Quemada Ranch to Colossal Cave Mountain Park. You'll follow the National Mail Stagecoach route.

  • Discovery Tour - Fun for the whole family. Just like a treasure hunt, you get a Discovery Tour Game Map. Find the stations all around the park and get your game map punched. Find all the stations and you win a prize!

  • Birding in the Park - There are hundreds of species of bird in the park. Grab your binoculars and get looking.

  • Picnicking or Camping in the park.

  • The Sluice - Just like panning for gold, except you will find gemstones, fossils or arrow heads.

  • Butterfly Garden - A haven for butterflies and a place to rest and reflect for you.

  • Analemmatic Sundial - Not round like you are used to. Its horizontal with a calendar grid.

  • La Posta Quemada Ranch Museum - Also the Ranch Headquarters. The museum focuses on human and natural history, specifically caves. Learn about Colossal Cave and two smaller caves: Arkenstone and LaTetera.

  • Civilian Conservation Corps Museum - Tells the story of how this group worked on all aspects of the park.

Location:

Colossal Cave Mountain Park

16721 E Old Spanish Trail

Vail, AZ 85641

520-647-7275

Colossal Cave Mountain Park

If you are visiting the area:

Pima County Attractions

520-243-7355

Kartchner Caverns State Park

This cave was only discovered in 1974. As a live cave, surface and calcite formations continue to grow, so each tour will be new and exciting. It ranks as one of the ten most studied caves due to its unique minerals and formations.

After a tour of the cave, head to the Discovery Center where you will find museum exhibits, gift shop, theater, regional displays and the Bat Cave Café. Outside the center are campgrounds, hiking trails, picnic area, an amphitheater and a hummingbird garden.

Some of the many interactive displays in the Discovery Center:

  • Tenen-Tufts Theater shows a video of the discovery of the cave.

  • The museum offers exhibits on cave formations, plus the life and history of caves.

  • Underground Virtual Tour - See some of the more popular cave formations.

  • Hydrology - shows the role of water in caves.

  • Bats - Learn the importance of the summer bats who live in the cave.

  • Outside the Cave - Regional plants, animals and humans in the area as well as paleontology studies.

  • For Kids - Try out the Discovery Center Scavenger Hunt.

Location:

Kartchner Caverns State Park

Benson, AZ 85602

520-586-2283

Arizona State Parks

If you are visiting the area:

Benson Visitor Center

520-586-4293

Tour Kartchner Caverns

Fort Huachuca Museum

Established in 1877 as a result of the Indian Wars, Fort Huachuca still serves as a working Army military base. It is home to the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, Army Military Affiliate Radio System, the Joint Interoperability Test Command and the Electronic Proving Ground.

The buildings of the old Army post house a museum dedicated to military forts in history. Exhibits tell of the history of the area. Fort Huachuca is the location of the final capture of Geronimo in 1886. It is also known as the home of the Buffalo Soldiers.

In a separate building, you can find the Army Intelligence Museum providing the military history of the area. The highlights are the Military Intelligence programs. You will also find equipment used in intelligence operations.

Location:

Fort Huachuca Museum

Huachuca City, AZ

520-533-5736

Huachuca Museum

520-533-5736

If you are visiting the area:

Cochise County Tourism Council

1-800-862-5273

Coronado National Memorial

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was a great explorer in the 1500's. Although he did not discover the area known today as Arizona, it was his courage that prompted further exploration. These later trips brought Spanish into the area, creating new culture. The Coronado National Memorial celebrates his fabled search for the Seven Cities. In the Visitor Center, you will find artifacts related to his expedition.

Nearby, enjoy caving, hiking or birding. Within the park you will find grasslands, woodlands, and forests.

Location:

Coronado National Memorial

South Coronado Memorial Drive

520-366-5515

National Park System

If you are visiting the area:

Sierra Vista

520-417-6960

Visit Sierra Vista

Ramsey Canyon Preserve

The habitat of Ramsey Canyon and southeastern Arizona is said to be at an ecological crossroads. The Rocky Mountains, the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts and the Sierra Madre of Mexico all come together to form grounds for a rich diversity of plants and animals. Ramsey Canyon is also well known for the many species of hummingbirds.

From March through October guided walks are offered from the Visitor Center. Here you can also learn about the preserve as well as the upper San Pedro River area.

Location:

Ramsey Canyon Preserve

27 E Ramsey Canyon Road

Hereford, AZ 85615

520-378-2785

Nature and the Ramsey Canyon Preserve

If you are visiting the area:

Sierra Vista

520-417-6960

Visit Sierra Vista

Listen to the Sound of a Hummingbird's Wings?

San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area

57,000 acres of land in Cochise County are set aside as the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. This site is one of the only remaining desert riparian areas in the United States. It is home to a variety of plant and wildlife and serves as wintering for many species of birds. This area is also home to archaeological finds from 13,000 years ago.

Activities for the visitor include:

  • The area is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts with hiking, horseback riding, fishing, etc.

  • Take a guided hike

  • View pre-historic and historic sites

  • Visit the Murray Springs Clovis Site with evidence of the earliest known people to inhabit North America.

Location:

San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area

1763 Paseo San Luis

Sierra Vista, AZ 85635

520-439-6400

Bureau of Land Management

If you are visiting the area:

Sierra Vista

520-417-6960

Visit Sierra Vista

The Town of Bisbee

Founded and named in 1880 after Judge DeWitt Bisbee, the financial backer of the Copper Queen Mine, the town of Bisbee was once the largest town between St. Louis and San Francisco. This was due to the minerals produced out of the mine. It was a thriving community until a fire destroyed much of the downtown area in 1908. It was quickly rebuilt, but the 1970's ended large scale mining. Today, there is no mining, but the history of the town remains.

You can take a bus tour of the Old Bisbee as well as:

  • Copper Queen Mine tour. Put on a hard hat and ride the mine train deep into the mine.

  • Take a guided tour of Muheim Museum Heritage House. A grand historic home with period furnishings.

  • It is said that in the 1800's wealthy people liked to collect strange items from their travels. Eventually they decided to put their collections on display. The Bisbee Mini Museum of the Bizarre is one of those showcases.

  • Bisbee is really into ghosts offering: Old Bisbee Ghost walking tour, Old Bisbee Haunted Pub Crawl and the Copper Queen Ghost Hunt. How brave are you?

If you are visiting the area:

Discover Bisbee

520-432-3554

The Town of Tombstone

Nothing says the old west like Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp in the town of Tombstone. Famous for being the most lawless cities on the frontier, it became well known for the battle at the O.K. Corral. Today Tombstone pays tribute to the original mining town. There are still gunfights, but don't worry, they're staged re-enactments.

Take a walking tour of historic district, or you can:

  • Tour Good Enough Mine. The town was originally a mining town. Good Enough was one of the first mines.

  • Ride a stage coach.

  • Tour the O.K. Corral and watch a gunfight, then learn what caused the fight.

  • Visit the office of the Tombstone Epitaph, an old West newspaper in the aptly named museum.

  • Take a tour of the Bird Cage Theater, said to be haunted.

  • Boothill Cemetary; resting place of some of the most notorious outlaws of the west.

  • Pioneer Home Museum is a memorial to the pioneers living in the area in the late 1800's which contains many family heirlooms.

  • Visit Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park. Once the home the offices of the sheriff, recorder, treasurer, board of supervisors, jail, and courtrooms of Cochise County. Today the Victorian building serves as a museum showing the life and times of the era.

If you are visiting the area:

Tombstone Web

Cochise Stronghold

Located in the Dragoon Mountains, the Cochise Stronghold is a woodland area surrounded by granite domes and sheer cliffs. It is here that an Apache Chief, Cochise and his people lived. Cochise is said to have been a great leader who was never conquered in battle. There is a geological feature in the Chiricahua Mountains called Cochise's Head. The town of Cochise, the county and the Stronghold are all named after him.

In the Stronghold, you can find hiking and equestrian trails as well as a campground. A short interpretive trail has information about the Stronghold. A nature trail speaks of the habitats along the way.

Location:

Cochise Stronghold

Forest Route 84

Out of Sunsites, Arizona

Cochise Stronghold

Are You Into Birds or the Wild Wild West?

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