Exploring Hidden Arizona

My husband and I left the cold rain of Oregon on Jan. 10 for a week-long getaway in Southern Arizona, the land of the saguaro cactus.  For me, a New Year’s trip is a welcome change from the winter doldrums and a way to reset for the coming year. 

High on our list to see was Chiricahua National Monument, an often overlooked gem tucked away in the SE part of the state in the Chiricahua mountains.  This was the land of Cochise and Geronimo, the homeland of the Chiricahua Apache before they were killed or displaced by white invaders. The word Chiricahua in Apache means stand-up rocks. In the park are thousands of pinnacles made up of layers of volcanic deposits of rhyolite that have been sculpted by wind and weather.  It’s a forest of rocks, a wonderland that we hiked through on the Echo Canyon trail from Massai Point.  We need to go back!

Photo by Brian Calk- McCauley Library
Sycamores in Madera Canyon

Another delight we found was Madera Canyon National Recreation Area nestled in the Santa Rita Mountains, not far from Green Valley, south of Tucson where we were staying. This is a premier birding area where you may see 250 species of birds, including. wild turkeys, 15 species of hummingbirds, elf owls, Mexican jays, and if you are lucky an elegant trogon. We were not lucky in this regard BUT we did get up close to a coatimundi.

photo by Bradley HackerMacCauley Library

At Canoa Historical park we spied this gorgeous vermillion flycatcher.

To really gain an appreciation of what the Sonoran Desert has to offer we stopped by the Sonoran Desert Museum just outside of Tuscon.  This is quite an impressive museum and we did not have time to see all the inside exhibits plus the acres of outside exhibits of wildlife and cacti and other Sonoran desert plants.  It was a great opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of rattlesnakes and scorpions safely living behind glass.  Among other delights, there was a hummingbird aviary, a desert bird aviary, mountain goats, bobcats, and my favorite javelinas.  There was so much to see at the museum that we had no time left to explore Saguaro National Park next door. Another “next time.”

The desert may look desolate on the surface, but slow down and you will observe its many treasures. Now that we have familiarized ourselves with the area, we are anxious to make another trip back to Arizona next spring. 

a peek from my doodle day planner of this trip

Tune into my other blog about sustainable living at onesweetearth.blog

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