Fall color at Garden Canyon Trail Bridge © Courtesy of The City of Sierra Vista
It’s official. Sierra Vista, Arizona, is the Hummingbird Capital of Arizona. And it lays claim as the Hummingbird Capital of the United States since this area hosts the most hummingbird varieties that visit the U.S.—and welcomes one found nowhere else north of Mexico. Sierra Vista is truly an Instaworthy destination for birders or tweeple looking for scroll-
The list of bird species doesn’t end with 15 species of hummers! The high, cool canyons and lush riparian areas create a migratory superhighway that more than 350 bird species pass through or take up year-round residency around this southeastern Arizona community.
Those canyons ripple across the Huachuca Mountains that bracket Sierra Vista to the west and have earned international fame among birders for, well, birding. Miller Canyon, with trails leading to Miller Peak, the highest southernmost peak in the U.S. at 9,465 feet, offers fantastic birding spots. Part way up the canyon, Beatty’s Guest Ranch ($5 fee for birding), with charming cabin rentals, holds the record for the most hummingbird species spotted in one day—14! Public bird viewing areas offer a chance to see some of them, as well as a wide variety of
A bit further down Highway 92, Ash Canyon hosts the aptly named Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary ($10 recommended donation). Owned and managed by the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory, the sanctuary makes for excellent birding all year. Nearly 200 species have been spotted here, including some of the Southwest’s most sought-after and rarely seen avian species. Check the sanctuary’s website for directions and parking and to reserve a photo blind.
Ramsey Canyon Preserve, a 300-acre nature conservancy site, is world-famous for birding opportunities, and for good reason. Here you can spot some life-list birds, like the Elegant trogon, Blue-throated and White-eared hummingbirds, Sulphur-bellied and Buff-breasted flycatchers, and Painted redstart, to namedrop a few. While walking along the stream, Coues deer will pose for photos, and a Gould’s turkey or two might show up for a cameo.
A riparian excursion along the San Pedro River is an easy stroll that parallels the waterway. Although the riverbed may be dry in places, rest assured that water is flowing underground. Sometimes hidden, sometimes flooding, the San Pedro creates a lush life zone for Freemont cottonwoods—some more than a century old—and serves as a major resting place for migrating birds. Keep your binocs at the ready for Gray hawks, Bell’s vireos, and Yellow-billed cuckoos.
Bright Vermillion flycatchers are hard to miss in the spring and summer, and resident Kingfishers are always elusive. It’s like a treasure hunt without a shovel! Make your first stop at the San Pedro House visitor center for maps and helpful info about the wildlife that lives in this National Conservation Area.
Discover more about Sierra Vista’s extraordinary skies and the birds that fill them, plus cozy places to stay, tasty things to eat, and amazing places to explore at VisitSierraVista.com
Situated in the center of southern Arizona’s renowned wine growing regions and flanked by historic sites that tell the area’s rugged origin story, Sierra Vista is the perfect launch pad for day-trip discoveries. Explore the character-rich communities and astonishing landscapes that surround Sierra Vista — the heart of southeast Arizona.