Join Naturalist Journeys for this exciting Southeast Arizona birding tour. Fall is a stunning time to visit Southeast Arizona’s Sky Island mountain ranges, when fall color decorates the stunning Chiricahua and Huachuca Mountains’ canyons. As other parts of the continent turn towards winter, November here boasts perfect warm days as maples turn red, cottonwoods an ash yellow, and sycamores shine burnt sienna. Nights are crisp and boast dark skies with inspiring star views. This tour includes time at two premier birding lodges.

Southeast Arizona is home terrain for Naturalist Journeys and we're so excited to share our favorite places. On this year's fall Southeast Arizona nature tour we’ve invited Hugh Simmons, an accomplished photographer specializing in landscapes, to join us. We plan to set the pace of this one to let you work on photo composition, or simply to marvel at beauty. Hugh provides photo tips for those that want to improve their skills; you can then practice on fall color landscapes and especially at feeders—brilliant birds. We begin at a fun western-themed hotel in Sonoita to have a chance to explore some beautiful grasslands at sunset, and to visit the famous hummingbird feeders at Patagonia. We follow with two nights at the delightful Casa de San Pedro and end with four nights in Cave Creek Canyon at Portal, truly one of the most scenic canyons in the state. This is home turf for guide Peg Abbott and she’s eager to share her beloved terrain. Throughout our travels, we enjoy delicious, catered meals and dining at our favorite local restaurants.

This is not “normal” winter birding. Hummingbirds still linger here at several popular feeder sites—sit awhile and let the birds come to you! Fruiting trees and shrubs attract thrashers, robins and sometimes, rarities, like the Eared Quetzal in the fall of 2020.

Wintering Sandhill Cranes number in the tens of thousands; we watch them fly in at sunset to Whitewater Draw. Sparrows and allies winter in profusion, many from the Great Plains region. Southwestern mammals such as Coati, Javelina, and even Ring-tailed Cat can be found. Raptors abound: Red-tailed Hawk of varied color phases, Ferruginous Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Peregrine, Merlin, and more.

  • “A scenic and birdy venture to southern Arizona. The sky island terrain is unique and it's a great time of year for the trip.” — Paul Pilch, 2023 Traveler
  • “An excellent trip! Great pace with options for hikes along with ample birding in a wide variety of environments. Food and lodging were great along with the trip leaders.” — Sandra Kemper, 2023 Traveler
  • “I have done nine Naturalist Journey's trips and this is one of my favorites. I loved the landscape and birds. It was a great group and the places we stayed facilitated the group with catered meals and gathering space rather than all restaurants.” — 2023 Traveler
  • “This was such a great trip. I had no idea what to expect in SE Arizona and it was marvelous. This is a good time of year to visit because the weather and trees were perfect.” — 2023 Traveler

Tour Highlights

  • Visit two famous birding lodges of Southeast Arizona
  • Find grand fall birding at hotspots like the Paton Center for Hummingbirds, Ramsey and Ash Canyons, local feeders along the San Pedro River, and more
  • Marvel at the spectacle of tens of thousands of overwintering Sandhill Cranes! Watch them fly-in to roost at sunset and also observe them feeding during the day
  • Experience prime time for wintering raptors in the Sulphur Springs Valley
  • Let an expert teach you ID skills for abounding sparrows; last year a small pond had three species of longspurs!
  • Spend time in the tiny village of Portal, a birding mecca and home to Naturalist Journeys
  • Immerse yourself in fall color and improve your photo skills at Cave Creek Canyon
  • Find winter hummingbirds, Vermilion Flycatcher and several species of quail
  • Explore Bisbee, a colorful, historic mining town; enjoy lunch and the chance to shop or check out the Smithsonian-affiliated museum
  • Find camaraderie at catered meals and dining at our favorite local restaurants (be sure to save room for homemade pie at the Casa)

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Sun., Nov. 3      Arrivals in Tucson | Ash Canyon

Welcome to Arizona! As you land in Tucson, we can pick you up at the airport or a nearby airport hotel. We then head east, leaving the city behind. Shapes of multiple sky islands immediately appear—we are surrounded by a series of small, but fascinating mountain ranges. We arrive in time for a wonderful afternoon at the world class Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary.  

In the evening, we check into our lodgings at the Casa de San Pedro—a beautiful B&B on the west bank of the San Pedro River. The Casa de San Pedro is a nationally acclaimed inn, described as “90 miles from Tucson and inches from heaven.” Guests have labeled it the most upscale bed and breakfast in Southeast Arizona. We find it to be the ideal location for our group—with meeting space, incredible hospitality, active bird feeders, a pond, and the San Pedro River right outside our door. From the Casa we can explore cottonwoods that fringe the river, perhaps flaunting a little fall color, as well as surrounding grasslands and tall peaks of the nearby Huachuca Mountains, a mecca for hummingbird enthusiasts. You quickly find out why so many guests return here again and again.

Those who wish can stay at this little paradise and relax, or visit local feeder sites, where hummingbirds linger through the winter. Often, we find Arizona Woodpecker, Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay, possibly Wild Turkey, and a host of resident species. If booked early, there may be a chance for you to spend time in a photo blind at one of the feeder sites—ask us for details and a booking (additional cost). Dinner tonight is catered at the Inn
Accommodations at Casa de San Pedro (B,L,D)

Mon., Nov. 4        Ramsey Canyon | Elgin Grasslands

The morning starts off with a wonderful Casa de San Pedro breakfast. After that, we head to The Nature Conservancy Preserve at Ramsey Canyon—one of the first well-known birding sites in Southeast Arizona. Here, Ramsey Creek descends through oak woodlands—its banks lined with massive, sculptured trunks of Arizona Sycamores. We hope to see Wild Turkey, some wintering warblers such as Townsend’s and Painted Redstart, and perhaps Red-naped Sapsucker and Hutton’s Vireo. Hummingbird feeders may delight us with a sighting of Blue-throated Mountain-gem, the largest hummingbird species in the United States. Walk the trails, browse the bookstore and gift shop, or park yourself under a tall, bending sycamore to wait for the birds to come to you! 

After lunch, we head out to the Southern Arizona Grasslands in search of sparrows and other grassland species. We also keep our eyes peeled for a herd of Pronghorn. This is a stunning setting in the afternoon light, with Northern Harriers gliding across the landscape and the occasional Short-eared Owl making an appearance. We're also be treated to views of one of the tallest mountains in Southern Arizona: Mt. Wrightson at 9,456 ft. 
Accommodations at the Casa de San Pedro (B,L,D)

Tues., Nov. 5         Whitewater Draw | Sulphur Springs Valley & Sandhill Cranes | Bisbee

This morning, after a scrumptious Casa de San Pedro breakfast, those who enjoy birding can head out to Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area. Many of the wintering Sandhill Cranes have arrived (numbering some 35,000 birds in the Sulphur Springs Valley at the peak of winter!), and we look for them in ponds and in farm fields where they feed on corn. Depending on water levels, Whitewater Draw may be one of the only local sites hosting shorebirds, and with luck we may see the area’s resident Great Horned Owl. The entire valley is a major wintering ground for raptors and some of the northern species, like Ferruginous Hawk, can be found here.

Mid-day, those who wish can take a break and explore Bisbee. Our keen photographers may prefer to stay at Whitewater Draw, where photo subjects are plentiful. We will have done some scouting for local raptors, and by 2:00 PM we meet back up to angle our way up to Willcox and the Twin Lakes ponds where ducks and cranes are plentiful.

We plan to watch the Sandhill Cranes come in to roost; this “fly-in” is typically active from about 4:00 to 5:30 PM. We then return to the Inn for another catered meal.
Accommodations at the Casa de San Pedro, (B,L,D)

Wed., Nov. 6         Chiricahua National Monument | Cave Creek Canyon

Today we discover a wonderland of rock at Chiricahua National Monument, on our way to Portal. We start the day with a southwestern breakfast before heading to Chiricahua National Monument. After making our way across the valley, we enter the Monument's rugged terrain, where the Apache leaders, Cochise and Geronimo, took their last stand until the late 1800s, when cattle ranching became a way of life. Today we also gawk at huge pillars of rock in the realm of Rock and Canyon Wrens, a jagged rock landscape that was born of explosive volcanic activity. We have a picnic lunch near the visitor center, and then you can choose to do a loop walk through the wonderland of rock or visit the historic Faraway Ranch and do some birding.

After our time in the monument, we reach the high country on our way to Portal by crossing the spine of the range on a winding road with spectacular views amid patches of fir, spruce, and Ponderosa Pine. This is the realm of the Mexican Chickadee, Yellow-eyed Junco, and other bird specialties. Listen for raucous Steller’s Jay, and look for the small resident Coue’s Whitetail Deer. A stop at Pinery Campground along the route can also be a productive break. 

In the late afternoon, we arrive in the small village of Portal (population: 300), where Cave Creek Canyon presents a magical realm of massive, colorful cliffs that rise over 1,000 feet. Its vegetation is rich and diverse—here yuccas mix with pine. Thick stands of maple decorate the stream, while shrubs turn colors of the rainbow. Hummingbirds linger, some for the winter, and we may find late-season flowers, raccoon-like Coatimundi, or even a herd of curious Javelina.
Accommodations at Cave Creek Ranch, Portal (B,L,D)

Thurs., Nov. 7        Fall Colors of the Canyon | Chiricahua High Country | Paradise

Early this morning, we offer an optional birding walk down the main street of Portal—a simple walk with stunning vistas, bird feeding stations, and a picturesque library and post office. Then, enjoy a hearty breakfast at the Portal Café.

Mid-morning, we take a scenic ramble up South Fork, one of the Chiricahuas' most spectacular canyons. You may want to linger along the creek reveling in the maples' fall colors while others may want to ascend the trail to reach outstanding vistas. There are pools of water that make great hideaways for photographers; a couple of hours spent at one of these pools should net images of Canyon Wren, Spotted Towhee, Red-naped Sapsucker, and more.

After a morning in the lower canyon, we make our way back to Cave Creek for a nice catered lunch. Then we head out for a loop drive, on the prowl for Mexican Chickadee, Apache Fox Squirrel, and other species. We visit the smaller village of Paradise, once a thriving mining community, to learn a bit of history and visit the feeders of a local hummingbird expert who has participated in banding and monitoring projects for many years. She often has Juniper Titmouse and several hummingbirds coming in to the feeders, even at this late date in the year.

There are wonderful feeders right at our lodge, too, with natural perches to delight photographers and observers alike. Blue-throated Mountain-gem often overwinter here; it’s fun to watch them chase off Pine Siskin—a mix of northern and southern species for sure. Watch the late-day feeding frenzy at our lodge’s feeders as you return, freshen up, and then enjoy a catered meal at the ranch.
Accommodations at Cave Creek Ranch, Portal (B,L,D)

Fri., Nov. 8        Grasslands & Local Feeders | Chiricahua Desert Museum

This morning we explore the lower elevations near Rodeo, New Mexico, a wetland oasis and a grassland area that is usually very productive. Following local sightings from previous weeks, we plan our route. A dedicated following of local birders is always on the lookout for rare Crested Caracara, and a variety of sparrows and longspurs, as well as Horned Lark and up to three species of thrashers. This is a region of open vistas, fabulous for landscape photography.

Enjoy lunch in the Sky Island Grocery and Grill, with a fine view of the mountains, and Greater Roadrunner and Lark Bunting coming in to the feeders. A local rancher invites us to his home to see birds at the feeders and, with luck, to hear some of his stories.

Finally, we enjoy time at the Chiricahua Desert Museum, where live animals in natural habitats are displayed and make for some wonderful photo subjects. And, for the history buffs in our group, there is a fantastic exhibit on Geronimo and the Chiricahua Apache. We end the evening with some additional hiking options for those still wanting to get out and moving, or a nice relaxing early evening with more time at the fantastic Cave Creek feeders before a catered dinner at Cave Creek.
Accommodations at Cave Creek Ranch, Portal (B,L,D)

Sat., Nov. 9          Willcox | Saguaro National Park | Tucson

After breakfast at the Portal Café, we get on the road back to Tucson. Along the way, we stop off at a fantastic shorebird and migrant trap in Willcox. Cochise Lake in Willcox also gives us a little more time with the always charismatic Sandhill Cranes while we search for exciting shorebird species; we also have a chance to fill in a few missing waterfowl for our list. After lunch in Willcox, we make the final push back to Tucson.

On the way back to Tucson, we have time to do a scenic loop through Saguaro National Park East. This 8-mile loop offers up great chances for a few more desert species such as Rufous-winged Sparrow and Gilded Flicker. It's also our only opportunity on this trip to be immersed in a true Saguaro Forest. It's an amazing setting to cap off a wonderful trip into Southeast Arizona. 

Tonight, enjoy a catered dinner with time to celebrate highlights of the great week we’ve had.
Accommodations at Lodge on the Desert (B,L,D)

Sun., Nov. 10        Departures from Tucson | Connect to our Arizona Sunshine & Saguaros Tour

Not ready to go? Join our guides who meet the group heading out after a rest day on our Sunshine and Saguaros tour for a lovely trip through the very unique desert southwest.

After a final delicious breakfast, we head to the airport. (B)

  • Acorn Woodpecker, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys Photo-Friendly
  • Bridled Titmouse, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys Photo-Friendly

    Bridled Titmouse by Bryan Calk

  • Arizona Woodpecker, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys Photo-Friendly

    Arizona Woodpecker by Hugh Simmons

  • Greater Roadrunner, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys Photo-Friendly
  • Wild Turkeys, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys Photo-Friendly
  • Coati, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys Photo-Friendly
  • Sandhill Cranes, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys Photo-Friendly
  • Mexican Jay, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys Photo-Friendly
  • Scaled Quail, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys Photo-Friendly
  • Bisbee Town, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys Photo-Friendly
  • Rufous-collared Sparrow, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys

    Rufous-collared Sparrow by Peg Abbott

  • Red-naped Sapsucker, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys

    Red-naped Sapsucker by Peg Abbott

  • Fall Arizona, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys

    Fall Arizona by Peg Abbott

  • Canyon Wren, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys

    Canyon Wren by Peg Abbott

  • Sandhill Cranes, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys

    Sandhill Cranes by Hugh Simmons

  • Coronado, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys

    Coronado, by Hugh Simmons

Cost of the Journey

Cost is per person, based on occupancy: $3090 DBL / $3835 SGL from Tucson, AZ. The cost includes accommodations for seven nights, meals as specified in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner), professional guide services, park and program entrance fees and miscellaneous program expenses. The cost does not include: round-trip airfare to and from Tucson, items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone, time in the photography blind if scheduled, drinks from the bar, or gratuities for luggage handling or personal services.

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival & Departure Airport: Tucson International Airport (TUS)

Arrival Information: Please plan flights to arrive by November 3 before 1:00 PM

Departure Information: Please plan your flight after 12:30 pm on November 10. 
If you wish to extend your stay in Tucson, you could use the below hotel recommendations or plan accordingly on your own.

Hotel Recommendations: If you want to relax and stay near the airport after arrival (we can pick you up at these hotels), we recommend: La Quinta Inn Tucson Airport (520) 573-3333 and the Courtyard by Marriott Tucson Airport (520) 573-0000. Does staying downtown and exploring the many shops and restaurants sound interesting? We would recommend: Home 2 Suites by Hilton (520) 274-7400 and The Leo Kent Hotel by Marriott (520) 549-5330. If you have a rental vehicle and plan on visiting Tohono Chul, a great hotel in that area is La Posada. There are many restaurants in this area as well. La Posada Lodge & Casitas (520) 492-6637

Travel Tip: If you want to arrive a day or two early, Tucson is a great city to explore. The world-renowned Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a fun place to spend part of a day with a zoo, natural history museum, and botanical gardens all in one location. Tohono Chul Botanical Gardens offers easy nature trails through a variety of gardens and Saguaro National Park is a great place to visit for scenery, hiking, and to see the iconic saguaro cactus. The downtown area, which is close to the University of Arizona campus, offers many restaurants and shops. Downtown Tucson is about 8 miles from the airport and can be reached by a taxi, Uber/Lyft, or renting a car. You will need to return to the airport by 1 pm on November 3 if you are not staying at an airport hotel.

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.


Monsoon Madness

Sunshine & Saguaros

  • Troy Corman

    Troy has been an avid birder since high school. Raised in rural south-central Pennsylvania, he moved to Arizona in 1980 to pursue higher education and new adventures. For several years he conducted wildlife inventories on the upper San Pedro River for the Bureau of Land Management. He has worked for the nongame Branch of the Arizona Game and Fish Department since 1990, conducting surveys and coordinating projects for species of concern. He coordinated the Arizona Breeding Bird Atlas project from its inception. His passion for birds has taken him as far away as Peru and East Africa, and he plans to increase his world travels.

    Photo credit: Hugh Simmons

    Other trips with Troy Corman

  • James Petersen

    James grew up in New Jersey and started birding at a young age. He continued that passion by getting an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Maine. Since then, he has worked and birded extensively across the United States, including conducting point counts and banding ducks in Maine; identifying and counting waterfowl in Nebraska; counting migrating raptors in Texas, Arizona and Wyoming; and surveying for Northern Goshawks in northern California. The past three springs he has been a bird guide in the Chiricahua mountains in southeast Arizona, and he enjoys sharing his passion for birds with others. His favorite bird is the Red-headed Woodpecker.

    Other trips with James Petersen

Map for Southeast Arizona: Sky Island Fall Sampler

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of Your Tour

  • Please talk with your doctor about general health needs. It is a good idea to consult with your doctor about general vaccinations recommended for travel.
  • Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed. After you make travel reservations, please send a copy of your travel itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office at
  • Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Remember to pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Health Information

We will share a copy of your health and emergency contact information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important in case of a medical emergency. In addition to bringing any prescription medications with you, we recommend that you have a copy of the prescriptions in case of loss.

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.  

We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.

Food & Drink

We carry water and juices/cold drinks in the cooler each day, and sodas if people like them. Please also plan on bringing and filling your water bottle for hiking each day. We try to use as few plastics as possible!

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Please pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Dress is informal and is casual even at restaurants. Layering is a great way to stay comfortable. Protective clothing is essential, whether it be from sun, rain, cold, insects, or vegetation. You need closed toe shoes, and wear comfortable walking shoes with good tread. Hiking boots with good support for hiking and on rocky terrain can work well.

Spending Money

Many people ask how much to plan to bring as spending money. Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. Most shops will take VISA and MasterCard or American Express. Typical items people purchase include local souvenirs and T-shirts, caps, and natural history books.  You may want to bring cash for drinks with dinner (if available) or smaller local purchases.


Expect the normal tipping protocol to apply for hotel maids and bar service. If at the end of the tour, you would like to show your appreciation to your guides, tipping is entirely appropriate but at your discretion. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. Gratuities for group meals are included. For your birding tour guide, we suggest $10-$15 per day per guest. Note that if there is more than one guide, this amount can be split among them.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

Wi-Fi and cell phone service are available in most US destinations, although there are some exceptions in remote locations. Wi-Fi is generally provided in all hotels, lodges, and restaurants you visit, at least in public areas. Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers unless it appears to be an emergency as this disrupts other guests – please plan cell phone calls on your own time.


Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.


For this tour, your guides will drive travelers in either full-size or mini-vans or a combination of those two. We ask all attendees to please rotate your seating, so you ride with different drivers and alternate between front and back seats.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives permission to record photos and/or video of your participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochures, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.


Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.


Packing List +

Please pack light! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please pack light!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds.  Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.

In general, the weather should be mostly chilly, with highs in the low-60°s and lows sometimes dipping down to the low 30°s or even 20°s.  We suggest packing a medium/heavy jacket and layers. Check your favorite weather website lcloser to your departure to better predict what the weather will be on your adventure.

Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long-sleeved shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation.  But if you like to wear them, by all means bring some shorts. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are comfortable and easy to wear. Note on clothing colors: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors, though camouflage clothing is not recommended.

Clothing & Gear

  • Long pants, 2 pairs
  • Shorts (1 pair or use a pair of zip-offs that give you both short and long)
  • Long-sleeved shirts (2)
  • T-shirts or equivalent (remember you may be buying some there anyway)
  • Lightweight raincoat or poncho (rain not likely, but possible)
  • Windbreaker type jacket (can be same as above)
  • Hat with broad brim
  • Personal underclothing
  • Socks, long enough to tuck in your pants – lightweight and easy to wash and dry
  • Comfortable walking shoes and lightweight hiking boots – good tread is essential!
  • Medium to heavy weight jacket
  • Warm fleece/sweater/sweatshirt
  • Gloves, warm hat, scarf for mornings and evenings
  • Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field cloths or a skirt, etc.)

Equipment & Miscellaneous

  • Airline ticket
  • Photo identification
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Binoculars (a clear shower cap works well to keep off rain and mist)
  • Camera and extra batteries, battery chargers, film or digital chips, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
  • Spotting scope and tripod (optional, guide will have one)
  • Small daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear
  • Walking stick (optional but recommended if you usually use sticks when hiking)
  • Water bottle (or plan to refill one bought on location)
  • Alarm clock (if you use your phone, be sure to turn off data roaming)
  • Sunscreen/lip balm with SPF
  • Toiletry articles
  • Gel bandana for cooling (optional)
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect repellent
  • Sulphur powder for possible chiggers (found at garden store)
  • Umbrella, compact and not brightly colored (optional, but useful for protection from rain if not windy)
  • Small flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Earplugs (optional) 
  • Portable packages of facial tissues
  • Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing
  • Small bottle of antibacterial soap
    Rechargeable power bank (optional)

WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing, and your mind will be at ease!

Medical & First Aid Items

  • Personal medication
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed
  • Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments (including tweezers for spines)
  • Copy of eyeglass prescription, medical prescriptions and any medical alerts
  • Health insurance information
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
  • Band-aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
  • Antibacterial soap in small container for quick handwashing


Suggested Reading List +

There are many titles of interest for Arizona; the following are a few that we Read more

There are many titles of interest for Arizona; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.

Top Picks

Field Guide to the Birds of North America

Merlin App. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Download it for free here.

General Reading

Mountain Islands and Desert Seas:  A Natural History of the U.S./Mexico Borderlands

The Deserts of the Southwest: A Sierra Club Naturalist’s Guide

Natural Environments of Arizona: From Desert to Mountains

Roadside Geology of Arizona

Field Guides

Birds of Southeastern Arizona

Sibley Guide to Birds

Hummingbirds of North America: The Photographic Guide

A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America (Peterson Field Guides)

Butterflies of North America; Kaufman Field Guides

Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Southwest

A Birder’s Guide to Southeastern Arizona

Tucson Audubon’s Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona

Please note that your guide will have a full set of local identification guides for plants, reptiles and amphibians, mammals and butterflies. For those who would like further detail: 

A Guide to the Identification and Natural History of the Sparrows of the United States and Canada  

Hawks in Flight

A Field Guide to Warblers of North America

Natural History

Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding: Understanding What You See and Hear

 The Birder’s Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds


The Complete Birder: A Guide to Better Birding

 Lives of North American Birds

Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion: A Comprehensive Resource for Identifying North American Birds

There is a good selection of books available for sale at visitors’ centers, and your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.


Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more




Sulphur Springs Valley




Casa de San Pedro Bed and Breakfast – An Environmentally Friendly Inn

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Paton Center for Hummingbirds (check out the live cam link!)

Birding Lake Patagonia

Hotspots in the Huachuca Mountains and the San Pedro River (

Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area – Birding Hotspot

Sandhill Cranes Return to Whitewater Draw - Article

Desert Adaptation of Birds & Mammals (AZ-Sonora Desert Museum)

Reptile and Amphibian Accounts


Pollinator Conservation Resource Southwest

Pollinator Plants of the Desert Southwest, Native Milkweeds

Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and Plants

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Tucson Audubon Society

Sky Island Alliance

Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve 

Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory

Ramsey Canyon Preserve – The Nature Conservancy

San Pedro River

Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area IBA

Cave Creek Canyon

Chiricahua Mountains & National Monument

Chiricahua Desert Museum

Geology & Geography

Geology of Arizona

Geography of Southern Arizona

History & Culture

Tucson’s History and Culture

A Brief Overview of Tucson

Culture History of Southern Arizona – American Era

Canoa Ranch: THEN AND NOW - A Historic View

Bisbee - History

Southern Arizona Cuisine

Helpful Travel Websites

Tucson International Airport

Homeland Security Real ID Act

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

ATM Locator

Date & Time

Photo credits: Banners: Whitewater Draw Sunset by Hugh Simmons Photography; Sandhill Cranes in formation by Peg Abbott; Chiricahua National Monument by Hugh Simmons Photography; Greater Roadrunner by Hugh Simmons, Whitewater Draw by Hugh Simmons; Vermillion Flycatcher by Hugh Simmons; Sandhill Cranes by Peg Abbott. Canyon Wren, Peg Abbott; Fall Colors, Peg Abbott; Rufous-collared Sparrow, Peg Abbott; Roadrunner by Peg Abbott; Coati by Peg Abbott; Red-naped Sapsucker, Peg Abbott; Fall colors, Peg Abbott; Group, Hugh Simmons; Sandhill Cranes, Peg Abbott; Western Meadowlark, Hugh Simmons; Violet-crowned Hummingbird, Hugh Simmons; Northern Pintail, Peg Abbott; Snow Geese, Peg Abbott; Sandhill Cranes flying, Peg Abbott; Bobcat, Peg Abbott; Bendire’s Thrasher, Peg Abbott; Group walking, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Marsh Wren, Peg Abbott; Northern Harrier, Peg Abbott; Vermilion Flycatcher, Steve Bull; Arizona in the Fall, Peg Abbott; Bisbee Town, Hugh Simmons Photography; Coronado, Hugh Simmons Photography; Sandhill Cranes, Hugh Simmons Photography; Canyon Wren, Peg Abbott; Fall AZ, Peg Abbott; Red-naped Sapsucker, Peg Abbott; Rufous-collared Sparrow, Peg Abbott;


Like what we do?

Sign up for our weekly eNews to stay up to date!

Get to know our favorite destinations each week. We promise no spam.

No Thanks