A Morning in Ramsey Canyon

By Maryann Gaug

On a sunny, but breezy, morning, twenty-eight RMOWPers were treated to our own private tour in the Nature Conservancy’s Ramsey Canyon Preserve on a day they are typically closed.

in Ramsey Canyon AZ
Learning about the ecology and history of Ramsey Canyon © Maryann Gaug

Our guides, Eric and Tom, not only pointed out the features of the beautiful canyon in the Huachuca Mountains, but also the history of this little piece of paradise on the side of a rather dry, desert area. Ramsey Canyon is full of deciduous trees from four ecological areas. The sky island of the Huachuca Mountains lies where four different sections of country converge: Rocky Mountains, Sierra Madre (mountains), Chihuahuan desert, and Sonoran desert. As a result, birds such as the elegant trogon from Mexico can be seen if lucky, and Apache, Chihuahua, piñon pines and Douglas fir grow next to each other along with cacti, yucca, and agave. In April, part of the dry season, some of the trees lose their leaves which return again after the monsoons of July and August. Mountain lions and bobcats reside in the area as do jaguars and coatis which typically live in Mexico.

colorful water tank
A colorfully painted water tank in the canyon © Maryann Gaug

Since humans had suppressed forest fires, the forest in Ramsey Canyon had grown in thick and unhealthy. The Nature Conservancy has been thinning the forest to what would have been its natural state.

Because of the winds, the little hummingbirds hid away from view, and other birds kept out of sight. Not so the big tom turkey who strutted his stuff and big tail fan up in the woods. Little Coues deer, a subspecies of white-tailed deer, shyly wandered around. We saw water tanks colorfully painted by local children with their impressions of Ramsey Canyon. Two old houses provided ample photo opportunities.

Whether or not you’re a birder, Ramsey Canyon is a real gem of ecological variety to visit.