Whitewater Draw is just a 45 minute drive from Sierra Vista and is home to about 22,000 wintering Sandhill Cranes. There is a half mile looped path that is close to parking, easy to walk and has benches along the way, two viewing platforms with telescopes, and close access to see not only cranes but other birds. Overnight camping is allowed, there are bathroom facilities and a few picnic tables. There is no fee. None of us are bird photographers and we don't have any of the long focal length lens that serious birders use. But, just getting out there and being so close to the cranes, watching them fly in and out by the hundreds, listening to them call, and watching them preen was more than enough for me.
I think Jon and Phyllis have lived a charmed life filled with travel to more than 100 countries. Their master photography library contains roughly 150,000 images and they have boxes and boxes of slides and paper photographs that are slowly and lovingly being scanned. That is why they must have grimaced when asked for just a few of their favorite photographs with reflections. They have curated their collection and have sent along a few to share.
Staying in Huachuca City meant one thing . . . we must loop the grand mountain. We took off and drove through Patagonia, stopping for breakfast, before heading eastward on Harshaw Creek Road. Along this stretch of the trip we saw cattle ranches, dry creek beds, lots of old interesting Cottonwood trees and the hint of a grassy valley. We veered off Harshaw Road onto the San Rafael Valley Road, crossing a wide grassy valley surrounded by mountains. More trees, one really good water spot at the San Pedro River and a few more cattle ranches. There were lots of Border Patrol folks present in the area. We drove over the Canelo Pass and then south on SR 83 past Parker Canon Lake. We stopped there for coffee but interestingly, none of us took any photographs of the lake!! It was cold and windy so that may have been the reason we kept our hands wrapped around warm cups rather than a cold camera body. We stayed on 83 up to Montezuma Pass, a wonderful high point that we will re-visit. It gives a wonderful, almost 360 degree of view to the Dragoon Mountains on the northeast and southward into Mexico. Our final leg was a very cured, at times hairpin curved dirt road down into the south side of Sierra Vista. Much of our trip was on dirt roads but they were mostly just fine with some washboarding in places. I hope you enjoy our looping day!
There is a 22 mile hiking trail up and over the Huachuca Mountains. It is part of the AZ Trail system. We chose not to take that route but my impression is that it would be one great hike with the rugged mountain and great vistas.