Best Of Tucson®

Best Place To Go Birding

Ramsey Canyon

STAFF PICK: If you have a particular place in your heart for hummingbirds, as all right-thinking and good people should, then the birdwatching handbooks will properly tell you there's just one place to go: the Nature Conservancy's Ramsey Canyon Preserve, nestled in the foothills of the Huachuca Mountains of southeastern Arizona, just outside Sierra Vista. The preserve harbors nearly all of the hummingbird species known to visit the United States, among them the Anna's, magnificent, black-chinned, longbilled, white-eared, and rufous varieties. No other spot in the country -- at least none available to public access -- offers such a cornucopia of hummers. Because of this, in the prime season of April to October, amateur ornithologists crowd into the 300-acre preserve to catch a glimpse of a Costa's hummingbird or a redstart, to add some elusive species to the life lists that "power birders" religiously maintain. Small though it is, the preserve is full of wildlife, thanks to its flanking the 22,000-acre Miller Peak Wilderness next door. Lying at 5,500 feet and graced by a broad stream that flows year-round, even in the depths of this summer's drought, the preserve is also a cool sanctuary for animals and humans alike. These qualities, along with the scenic beauty of the Huachuca range that looms above, led to its having been named the nation's first United States Natural Landmark.