In 1934 the Civilian Conversation Corps – referred to as the CCC (also nicknamed the Tree Army) – enlisted young men who were hit hard by the Great Depression to help with road access throughout this area. The amount of rock that was moved to carve out these roads was unbelievable. Bonita Canyon Drive reaches a mighty 6,870 ft. to the summit.
Wilderness. . .wildlife. . .they kind of go hand and hand in this part of the country. Finding a place to stay for the night was our next priority after leaving the rock pinnacles in Chiricahua country. With our paper directions in hand from our Day’s End boon docking information we didn’t have too far to travel to Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area where we could park free for three days. This 1,500 acre wildlife parcel is owned by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and is touted as the best viewing site in Arizona - and major roost site - for the sandhill cranes; 20,000+ at the height of the crane-watching season (October-March 15). What we did see was enough to give you goose bumps, as we witnessed the crane numbers changing each day as more of them took flight to new destinations.
Located within the Chihuahuan Desert in the area known as Sulphur Springs Valley, this grassland habitat consists of extensive open-water areas, marshlands and mudflats. Quite the site to attract the birds throughout the winter, spring and fall seasons. Walking trails, interpretive signs and viewing decks with scopes added to our enjoyment during our stay here.
What’s pretty amazing is the daily agenda of the sandhill cranes during this time. They spend the night standing in the shallow waters to evade predators and then fly out each morning to feed and socialize in the surrounding area. They return in the afternoon and evening after grazing on corn available in harvested grain field.
In addition to sandhill cranes, this area’s waters attracts many types of birds: Whiskered Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owls, Northern Shoveler, Greater Roadrunner, Cooper’s Hawk, Vermillion Flycatcher and Cinnamon Teal to name a few. If you can identify them from these next pictures, you get a gold star!
Each stop brings something entirely new for us. It’s time to take a walk into the past as we now travel to the areas of Tombstone and Bisbee, Arizona.
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” ~ John Muir, Naturalist and Author