Arizona Here We Come

The community of Sierra Vista, in the scenic southeastern corner of Arizona, is the site of the 2017 conference of Rocky Mountain Outdoor Writers and Photographers. The conference is scheduled from the afternoon of Sunday, April 23 through the evening of Wednesday, April 26, but with all the extra points of interest in the area conference attendees will probably want to schedule a little extra time.

October sunset at our campground about 10 mi. north of Sierra Vista © Don Laine
October sunset at our campground about 10 mi. north of Sierra Vista © Don Laine

Activities include a guided nature walk in the Nature Conservancy’s Ramsey Canyon Preserve, a 380-acre streamside oasis of Arizona sycamore trees known for its diversity of plants and wildlife, including numerous birds, especially hummingbirds. We’ll also have a guided field trip to the ghost town of Fairbank with a walk up the hill to its 19th-century cemetery.

A nature walk along the San Pedro River, in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, is scheduled, and we’ve booked a walking tour with an historian in nearby Tombstone, “The Town Too Tough to Die”.

There will be writing and photography workshops, and a pre-conference bird photography workshop with our own Tom Ulrich is in the planning stages. We hope to also offer small-group jaunts to see the area’s famed elf owls.

Conference headquarters will be the Sierra Suites motel, 391 E. Fry Blvd. (; 520-459-4221). When calling for reservations, tell them you’re with RMOWP. Our daily group rate for one or two people is $59 for a standard king room (one bed) and $69 for an executive double queen room for those that want two beds. ADA rooms are the same price, there are both smoking and non-smoking rooms, and a limited number of pet rooms are available at $10 per pet per night extra. Rates include a hot breakfast buffet and rooms have refrigerators and microwaves. Sierra Suites also has an outdoor heated pool and an exercise room.

Registration forms with detailed costs will be sent out soon, but it looks like this will be one of our cheapest conferences in years. In addition to the bargain lodging rates dicussed above, the registration fee is expected to be about $50 per person, meals will be in the $20 to $25 range, and cost for the Tombstone walking tour is $20 per person.

Sierra Vista is south of I-10, about 90 minutes from Tucson International Airport, and most of the areas we’ll be exploring will be below 5,500-feet elevation (slightly higher than Denver and Albuquerque).

Although we can’t guarantee perfect weather, there is usually very little rain in southeastern Arizona in late April, average high temperatures for Sierra Vista at that time are in the low to mid-70s and average lows are in the upper 40s.