Few places in the U.S. offer the remarkable combination of scenery, biological diversity, and experience like the sky island mountain ranges of Southeastern Arizona. These ranges rise from deserts and grasslands; the elevation changes afford rich biodiversity, rare in such a small geographic area.

This tour coincides with spring migration, which peaks from late April through mid-May. Spectacular residents like Elegant Trogon, Red-faced Warbler, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher range north here from Mexico and Central America. They arrive keen to set up breeding in this almost subtropical realm. On cool, shaded trails, walk between yucca, tall pines, and a host of plants more commonly seen on the Mexican plateau.

Begin with a scenic drive from Tucson, Arizona, to the southeast corner of the state, exploring the remarkable Amerind Foundation Museum and the oasis Twin Lakes ponds near Willcox for migrating shorebirds. Spend three days in the magical Chiricahua Mountains, where Mexican species breed in cool mountain canyons below spires of welded volcanic tuff.

Next, stay three nights at the delightful Casa de San Pedro from which we explore cool, lush canyons of the Huachuca Mountains in search of Mexican Spotted Owl, Olive Warbler, Greater Pewee, and more. We often find Elegant Trogon at The Nature Conservancy’s Ramsey Canyon Preserve, and ahead of dining in historic Bisbee, we explore an excellent wetland at Whitewater Draw.

Finally, explore the corridor south of Tucson, Madera, Box and Florida Canyons, Kino Springs, Patagonia State Park, and The Paton Center for Hummingbirds, all from wonderful digs at the Amado Territory Inn. All hotels selected offer premium location and hospitality. Join us to discover the region’s birding hotspots, scenic vistas, and local restaurants.

  • “The field trips were well planned, timed, and executed. Both guides were excellent. Their knowledge of birds and the area were what we have come to expect. Both guides worked hard to make sure everyone saw all the birds. The Casa de San Pedro was awesome - 5 star. The rooms were excellent and the meals creative and excellent. This was a wonderful surprise.” — Richard Braley, 2023 Traveler
  • “It was fantastic! The guides were excellent! The lodgings were wonderful. I got to see a beautiful part of the world that I'd never seen before. For me, a "non-list-keeping" birder, whose interests include horticulture, history, and more, this checked all my boxes.” — Donavee Copenhaver, 2023 Traveler
  • “This tour visited a part of the country that is unique in so many ways, from its geological origins, to its flora and fauna; it was truly an honor and privilege to have been able to visit it. I'd never birded in this part of the country, so most of what I saw was new. (I counted 93 new life birds!) It truly was the trip of a lifetime.” —Frances Delwiche, 2023 Traveler
  • “This trip was just what I enjoy in a birding trip! A wonderfully friendly, knowledgeable, approachable birding guide, great birding comrades both new and veterans, fantastic birds, scenery and accommodations.” – Laurie Latchaw, 2023 traveler
  • “Ten days of intense exceptional birding across the deserts, forests and canyons of SE Arizona. From hummingbirds to raptors, from warblers to trogons - one of the great birding destinations in North America. A must for every serious and not so serious birder.” – David Schankler, 2023 traveler

Tour Highlights

  • Explore Southeastern Arizona’s Sky Island Mountains at the peak of spring migration
  • Enjoy delightful lodges; feel a bit pampered with special meals and hospitality
  • Visit Old Bisbee, with its mining history and eclectic locals
  • Experience many photo opportunities—colorful birds and other wildlife abound
  • Get an up close and personal study on hummingbirds—over a dozen species!
  • Join an owl-prowl to find Whiskered Screech Owl, Elf Owl, and more

Trip Itinerary

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

Tues., May 6    Arrival in Tucson | Willcox Playa | Portal

Welcome to Southeast Arizona! You arrive today in Tucson, a vibrant city surrounded by mountain ranges that rise dramatically from the Sonoran Desert floor. Please plan to arrive no later than 1:00 PM.

About 1.5 hours from Tucson is our first official stop of the trip. Not only is this a wonderful stopover on our way to Portal, but its also a prime stopover for migrating shorebirds. Lake Cochise & Twin Lakes Golf Course ponds, near Willcox,  should be teeming with migrant shorebirds and waders this time of the year. American Avocet, White-faced Ibis, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Western and Eared Grebes, and various phalaropes and sandpipers are often present. This is also a terrific place to see Scaled Quail. We will spend an hour or two here, then a quick stop at the store before our journey to Portal. 

Tonight, we stay in the charming village of Portal with stunning views of the Chiricahua Mountains. Settle in and enjoy dinner and an overview of the week to come. Enjoyed a leisurely catered meal with mountain vistas all around.
Accommodations at Cave Creek Ranch, Portal (D)

Wed., May 7     High Mountain Birding | Owling

Today we head to the top of the Chiricahuas, on a dramatic mountain road from which we witness the epic drama of fires that roared through the Chiricahua and Huachuca Mountains in May and June of 2011. Between dramatic views of the peaks and surrounding desert, we find still lovely conifer forest to hunt for Mexican Chickadee, a specialty of the Chiricahuas. Look for Red-faced and Olive Warblers, as well as Greater Pewee. Explore beautiful mountain streams, picnic in high mountain meadows, and enjoy the peaceful setting while you discover new birds, wildflowers, and mammals like Apache Fox Squirrel, possible Coatimundi, Javelina, Coue’s White-tailed Deer—even Black Bear is possible!

Tonight, we return for an early dinner at our lodgings. Learn more about the region’s small owls; afterwards we venture out to hear and see them.
Accommodations at Cave Creek Ranch, Portal (B,L,D)

Thurs., May 8      Cave Creek Canyon | Southwestern Research Station | Grasslands | Portal

Enjoy dawn in a magical realm. Bird calls echo through the canyons. Dusky-capped and Brown-crested Flycatchers nest in the area, as do a host of interesting warblers such as Grace’s, Virginia’s, Lucy’s, Olive, and Red-faced. Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay quickly makes their presence known in the lower grassland reaches, while the highly-social Mexican Jay holds its own amid the oaks.

Cave Creek Canyon is one of the most biologically diverse places in the United States; here, the ecosystems of the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Madres, the Chihuahuan Desert, and the Sonoran Desert intricately combine. In the maze of volcanic rock pinnacles with crenellated walls of orange tuff, you see contrasts like yuccas standing above bracken ferns, and Douglas Fir entwined with Arizona Sycamore. Several pairs of Elegant Trogon have nested in the canyon for many years; their ecological story is closely tied to neighboring Mexico and the Sierra Madres. While walking the cool and shaded paths of the canyon, we’re also likely to see Painted Redstart, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Acorn Woodpecker, and Arizona Woodpecker — just to name a few highlights!

Visit the American Museum’s Southwestern Research Station and learn more about research and programs conducted by biologists from around the world that recognize the special biodiversity of the area.

Portal is a birder’s mecca, and this afternoon we walk the streets of this picturesque village, seeking out tanagers, orioles, and other species that use the verdant oasis. We also stop at local feeders that can be very productive. We then visit State Line Road looking for grassland specialties such as Scaled Quail, several thrashers, and Greater Roadrunner, and take a peek at what migrants abound at Willow Tank, a birding hotspot.

Tonight, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant and indulge in fabulous views of the Chiricahuas.
Accommodations at Cave Creek Ranch, Portal (B,L,D)

Fri., May 9      Chiricahua National Monument | Bisbee | The San Pedro River

Today we say farewell to Portal and retrace our route up and over the mountains to the rock wonderland of the Chiricahua National Monument. In this area of spectacular rock pillars, formed by volcanic activity and erosion, famous Apache leaders Cochise and Geronimo and their followers once hid from American troops. Today, Zone-tailed Hawk and Peregrine Falcon patrol the rugged rock landscape. Learn more about the geological processes that formed the park and walk the trails between the rock formations, looking for Rock and Canyon Wrens, Painted Redstart, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Red-faced Warbler, and Mexican Jay. With luck, we may spot an inquisitive Coatimundi, a relative of the raccoon. Claret-cup Cacti and Yucca should be in bloom and we enjoy a picnic lunch.

Then we head west across extensive grasslands under the shadow of the Dos Cabezas Mountains, watching for raptors and Lark Bunting. Visit the famous old west town of Bisbee to stretch our legs and look around, get a coffee or an ice-cream.

We then head to our most delightful lodgings at the Casa de San Pedro, on the San Pedro River south of Sierra Vista. Casa de San Pedro is a nationally acclaimed inn; they say it is 90 miles from Tucson and inches from heaven. We agree! We find it 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, as well as surrounding grasslands and the nearby Huachuca Mountains, a Mecca for hummingbird enthusiasts. You soon discover why so many guests return here again and again.

After a full day of learning and exploring, we enjoy a catered dinner at the Casa.
Accommodations at the Casa de San Pedro (B,L,D)

Sat., May 10      Ramsey Canyon | Ash Canyon Feeders & Favorite Local Spots

Today we visit The Nature Conservancy Preserve at Ramsey Canyon—one of the first well-known birding sites in Southeast Arizona. Each canyon of the Huachucas has a flowing stream, with good monsoon flow water descending through oak woodlands, creating habitat for massive Arizona Sycamores, the favored nesting trees of Elegant Trogon. Walking up the well-maintained trail, we could see Coatimundi, Wild Turkey, Arizona Woodpecker, Golden Eagle, Black-throated Gray and other warblers, and a variety of colorful hummingbirds at close range. Butterflies occur here in abundance, as do a number of reptiles, amphibians, and dragonflies.

We enjoy a picnic lunch near local feeders at Ash Canyon where we hope to see Lucifer Hummingbird, as well as more regular Anna’s, Black-chinned, and possibly migrant Rufous Hummingbirds. Acorn, Ladder-backed, and Arizona Woodpeckers, Mexican Jay, White-winged Dove, and up to three species of orioles (including Scott’s Oriole) are all expected at the feeders. We visit a few more favorite local spots before returning to the Casa with our sights set on the B&B’s famous pie!

This evening’s dinner is at a favorite local restaurant.
Accommodations at Casa de San Pedro, Hereford (B,L,D)

Sun., May 11      San Pedro River Walk

After morning birding, we return to the Casa this afternoon and enjoy some walking time along the San Pedro River. Birds of interest here include Swainson’s and Gray Hawks, Black Phoebe, Cassin’s Kingbird, Abert’s Towhee, Summer Tanager, Blue Grosbeak, Bell’s Vireo, Lucy’s Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, and several species of grassland sparrows. Rarely, a Green Kingfisher is present along the river or at a nearby pond.

Dinner tonight is catered at the Casa.
Accommodations at the Casa de San Pedro (B,L,D)

Mon., May 12     Patagonia | Patagonia Lake | Roadside Rest

After breakfast, we head to the little hamlet of Patagonia, site of one of The Nature Conservancy’s very first preserves. As we enter Patagonia, we stop at the municipal butterfly garden close enough to the Mexican border to host an unusual stray. Learn more about native plants that frequent the area's butterfly gardens. We drive through extensive grasslands near Sonoita, where we look for Pronghorn and Chihuahuan Raven.

In Patagonia we visit hummingbird feeders at the Tucson Audubon Society’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds. The former home of the late Wally and Marion Paton, who invited visitors to their backyard feeders, the property was purchased in 2015 by the chapter to protect it for posterity. In addition to their usually reliable Violet-crowned Hummingbird, 211 other species have been recorded onsite.

The Nature Conservancy has a preserve here with very similar habitat to that of the San Pedro River. We make a short visit to their visitor site so you can learn more about their conservation work, and we always network for recent bird sightings.

After lunch in town, and depending on our time today, we may bird the riparian shoreline of Patagonia Lake State Park, a hidden treasure in the rolling hills. A beautiful creek trail provides a home for many species, including Canyon Towhee, Inca Dove, Vermilion Flycatcher, Black Vulture, and several species of hummingbirds. It is a good place to try for rare Black-capped Gnatcatcher, seen on a regular basis.

A visit to the famous Patagonia Roadside Rest shows off some stunning geology and can reward us with views of Thick-billed Kingbird, Black Vulture, and Yellow-breasted Chat flitting among ash, walnut, and cottonweed trees. Then it’s on to our lodgings in Green Valley, a retirement community south of Tucson close to some very birdy canyons of the Santa Rita Mountains.
Accommodations at Best Western Green Valley (B,L,D)

Tues., May 13     Florida, Box, & Madera Canyons

Florida, Box and Madera Canyons are carved out of the Santa Rita Mountains. Florida Canyon gives us the chance to look for Rufous-capped Warbler along with Broad-tailed, Broad-billed, and Anna’s Hummingbirds, Cactus Wren, and Black-headed Grosbeak. Box Canyon for the last two years have had Five-striped Sparrow and recently, there have been Black-capped Gnatcatchers here as well!

Madera Canyon, one of the most famous birding areas in the United States, is a north-facing valley in the Santa Rita Mountains with riparian woodland along an intermittent stream, bordered by mesquite, juniper-oak woodlands, and pine forests. Madera Canyon is home to over 250 species of birds, including 15 hummingbird species, as well as avian specialties like Elegant Trogon, Elf Owl, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, and Painted Redstart. Arizona Gray Squirrel can be found here, and Black-tailed Jackrabbit are found in the grasslands surrounding the peaks. It is also a great place to spy nesting Elegant Trogons. We walk Madera Canyon trails along the creek beneath white-barked Arizona Sycamore trees, where a pair of Cooper’s Hawk is likely nesting and where we can learn about plant communities. Flame-colored Tanager have been seen for a number of years here — a colorful highlight! Acorn Woodpecker call from their food-storage trees and even visit local feeders to join the array of hummingbirds. In the lush Madrean-oak woodlands, Painted Redstart appear almost tame; we may also see Common Bushtit and Hutton’s Vireo. At local feeders, we are likely to find Black-headed Grosbeak, Scott’s and Hooded Orioles, and Mexican Jay.

In grasslands adjacent to the Santa Rita Mountains, we look for Botteri’s, Rufous-winged, and Rufous-collared Sparrows, as well as other specialties of the area. As the afternoon draws to a close, we drive east, crossing a lush grassland area with Pronghorn.

Enjoy dinner in Tubac, an artisan’s village where good restaurants abound.
Accommodations at the Best Western Green Valley (B,L,D)

Wed., May 14      Canoa Ponds | Tumacacori | Pena Blanca Lake

The corridor south of Tucson is replete with birds, some of the migrants arriving here first due to the river area’s lower elevation. Along the Santa Cruz River we may find specialties such as Rose-throated Becard, Gray Hawk, or even the rare Sinaloa Wren.

Canoa Ranch Conservation Park has a very productive pond where we add water bird species to our growing tally of Southeast Arizona’s avifauna. The Santa Rita Mountains loom behind and we watch the sky for Golden Eagle and other raptors.

Going south to Rio Rico, we take in a few more birding hotspots close to the historic mission at Tumacacori, an impressive site. Pena Blanca Lake is a delightful final stop.
Accommodations at the Best Western Green Valley (B,L,D)

Thurs., May 15     Departures from Tucson

We offer an optional bird walk along the Santa Cruz River early in the morning, or a chance to visit a very special local feeder site that has an excellent pollination garden. We then pack up and drive to Tucson for flights out. (B)

  • Birding Arizona, Bird Watching Arizona, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Sky Islands, Saguaro National Park

    Pyrrhuloxia by Bryan Calk

  • Birding Arizona, Bird Watching Arizona, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Sky Islands, Saguaro National Park

    Cave Creek Scenic by Bryan Calk

  • Birding Arizona, Bird Watching Arizona, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Sky Islands, Saguaro National Park

    Pena Blanca Lake by Bryan Calk

  • Birding Arizona, Bird Watching Arizona, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Sky Islands, Saguaro National Park

    Bisbee, Arizona

  • Birding Arizona, Bird Watching Arizona, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Sky Islands, Saguaro National Park

    Group Birding by Bryan Calk

  • Birding Arizona, Bird Watching Arizona, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Sky Islands, Saguaro National Park

    Western Tanager by Bryan Calk

  • Birding Arizona, Bird Watching Arizona, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Sky Islands, Saguaro National Park

    Chiricahua National Monument

  • Birding Arizona, Bird Watching Arizona, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Sky Islands, Saguaro National Park


  • Birding Arizona, Bird Watching Arizona, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Sky Islands, Saguaro National Park

    Tucson, Arizona

  • Birding Arizona, Bird Watching Arizona, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Sky Islands, Saguaro National Park

    Painted Redstart by Bryan Calk

  • Birding Arizona, Bird Watching Arizona, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Sky Islands, Saguaro National Park

    Group Birding by Bryan Calk

Cost of the Journey

Cost of the Journey is per person, based on occupancy: $TBD DBL/ $TBD SGL, from Tucson, AZ. The tour price includes airport transfers, 9 nights’ accommodation, ground transportation in vans, professional guide services, park and other entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. The tour price does not include Round-trip airfare to and from Tucson, personal expenses such as laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, and gratuities for luggage handling or other services. Guide gratuities are at your discretion.

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 Hopkins International Airport (TUS)

Arrival Information: Please plan flights to arrive by May 6, 2025, before 1:00 PM

Departure Information: Please plan your flight after 12:30 pm on May 15, 2025. 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 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 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 May 6 if you are not staying at an airport hotel.

Items of Note

PACE: Moderate, with full days of birding and walks on quiet roads and trails. A typical walk is less than two miles and often we have a series of walks at different spots that are a half-mile each, several times a day. DINING: Casual, a mix of local restaurants and both restaurant and picnic lunches.

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


Monsoon Madness

Sunshine & Saguaros

  • Carlos Sanchez

    Guide and client-favorite Carlos Sanchez has deep experience guiding in Central and South America (and in Spain!) for Naturalist Journeys. Carlos has also birded Thailand many times and he guides for us there as well. Before joining us, he was a resident guide in both Brazil and in Ecuador. A Miami native and Northern Virginia resident, he leads the new-and-notable Homestead, FL, Christmas Bird Count, is active in the Tropical Audubon Society and contributes to the blog 10,000 Birds.

    Other trips with Carlos Sanchez

Map for Southeast Arizona

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 clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com.
  • 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 clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com 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 warm, with highs in the low-80°s to 90°s and lows sometimes dipping down to the low 50°s or even 40°s. We suggest packing a medium jacket and layers. Check your favorite weather website like, www.weather.com, closer 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. 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

  • Lightweight 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-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

  • E-ticket confirmation
  • 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, memory cards, 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 (essential!)
  • Walking stick (optional but recommended if you usually use sticks when hiking)
  • Water bottle (or plan to refill one bought on location)
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Toiletries
  • Gel bandana for cooling (optional)
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect repellent
  • Sulphur powder for possible chiggers (found at garden store)
  • Portable packages of facial tissues
  • Small flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries
  • Alarm clock (or use your cell phone)
  • Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing
  • Umbrella, compact and not brightly colored (optional, but useful for protection from rain if not windy)
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Earplugs (optional)
  • Small bottle of antibacterial gel
  • 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 (and copy of vital prescriptions, including glasses – or have at easy reference to call or fax from home) and any medical alerts
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van, drives, etc.
  • Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments (including band-aids, moleskin, etc. for blisters)
  • Tweezers
  • Health insurance information
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts


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 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 

National Audubon Society Sibley Guide to Birds

Hummingbirds of North America: The Photographic Guide

A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America

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

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

Peterson Field Guides: Hawks

Peterson Field Guides: Warblers

Natural History

Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding

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

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.

Useful Links +

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







Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Birding Lake Patagonia

Birding Amado WTP – eBird Sightings

Hotspots in the Huachuca Mountains and the San Pedro River (SABO.org)

Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area – Birding Hotspot

Canoa Ranch – eBird Hotspot Sightings

Peña Blanca Lake – Birding Hotspot

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

Birding Madera Canyon

Reptile and Amphibian Accounts


Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Tucson Audubon Society

Cave Creek Canyon – Coronado National Forest

Southwest Research Station (SWRS)

Chiricahua National Monument – Coronado National Forest

San Pedro River

Huachuca Mountains

Friends of Madera Canyon – Conservation Efforts

Ramsey Canyon Preserve – The Nature Conservancy

Tumacacori National Historical Park

Geology & Geography

Geology of Arizona

Geography of Southern Arizona

History & Culture

Tucson’s History and Culture

A Brief Overview of Tucson’s History

Culture History of Southern Arizona – American Era

Canoa Ranch: THEN AND NOW - A Historic View

Amerind Foundation

History of Bisbee

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: Saguaro National Park, Saguaro National Park Landscape, Chiricahua National Monument, Roadrunner, Black-throated Gray Warbler (Bryan Calk), Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet (Bryan Calk) Thumbnails: Western Tanager (Bryan Calk), Broad-billed Hummingbird (Bryan Calk), Harris' Antelope Squirrel (Bryan Calk), Elegant Trogon (Bryan Calk), Tufted Flycatcher (Bryan Calk), Red-faced Warbler (Bryan Calk), Bullock's Oriole (Bryan Calk), Blue-throated Mountain-gem (Bryan Calk)


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