Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Boyce Thompson Arboretum is a definite must see near Phoenix. For those who have yet to make the trip, I would recommend going now-ish. The arboretum is great to visit in the spring and summer (though it might be a bit warm!). Not only does the arboretum contain a great diversity of plant life, but it also attracts a large number of animals, especially birds, especially during spring migration.

IMG_3102

I recently went to Boyd Thompson with my mom when she visited. We had some weird weather (cold and rainy) but still saw a lot of cool animals and enjoyed many spring flowers.

IMG_3032IMG_3029IMG_3016

The cool thing about Boyce Thompson, is that it has more than just a Sonoran desert environment, which is still awesome by the way! There is a Chihuahuan desert area, an Australian area – complete with a eucalyptus forest! – a Sonoran desert riparian area, and a South American area. Here are a few images of some of the environments you can visit:

IMG_3015

A view of the Sonoran desert area

IMG_3045

This is a view of the Sonoran desert riparian zone before the trail depends into its heart.

The hummingbird garden was also fun to visit, especially now, as you can see several species of hummingbird there. Here is a picture of a broad-billed hummingbird, which is typically only found in Arizona and Mexico.

IMG_3037

There is also the demonstration garden, which has many different plants arranged to fit different garden plans/types. There were lots of things flowering while we was there, and I was able to get some pretty awesome bird photos.

IMG_3051

A flowering bottlebrush plant.

IMG_3048

IMG_3099

A curve-billed thrasher

IMG_3024

This male Gambel’s quail posed for us for quite some time.

IMG_3088

A verdin picking at a flower.

The best moment was when a northern cardinal got within a few feet of me and let me take some really up close photos. Here is the best one!

IMG_3070

Again, I would highly recommend visiting this place; you will see amazing things and learn a great deal about plant diversity and natural history!

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness

Many of you have probably been to or at least heard of Oak Creek Canyon, which extends from Sedona into and up the Mogollon Rim. It is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Arizona, and it is also incredibly varied in habitat type. You start along Oak Creek in a mid elevation desert riparian area and then slowly transition into a high elevation mixed forest/riparian area. I’ve mentioned this place in previous blogs, and I highly recommend visiting it.

DSC00490

A view down Oak Creek Canyon in the Summer

However, I’ve always had one issue with this place, and that is it is full of people! Well I believe I’ve found a way to remedy that problem. To the west is another canyon that follows a similar trajectory, called Sycamore Canyon. This canyon also happens to be a wilderness area, which means much fewer people and no man-made structures (roads, buildings etc.). I’ve been very interested in visiting this large wilderness area, and finally did recently.

IMG_2807

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness area is beautiful and quite large and has a good network of trails running through it (check it out here). Because it was still quite cold and wintery in the upper portions of the canyon, I decided to stick to the lower portions of the wilderness area for this trip. Plus, I want to save the upper portion for when all the deciduous trees have regained their leaves. The trail I decided to do was the Dogie Trail. This trail and others in the lower portions of the canyon can be accessed through Sedona or Cottonwood, while the upper portion are accessed through Flagstaff.

This trail starts in the wilderness area, but not in the main part of the canyon. It winds through the lovely red-rock country as it makes it way towards Sycamore Canyon.

IMG_2834

Along the way, I was treated to the spectacular contrast between the green vegetation and orange-red rocks.

IMG_2829IMG_2817

I was also given some great views of the Sycamore Canyon/Mogollon Rim walls.

IMG_2847

This trail stuck to the arid mid-elevation deserts and pinyon-juniper forests found throughout much of central Arizona.

IMG_2862

I was not able to make it to the lush desert riparian areas (deep in the main canyon), though I was also able to find several side canyons that at the right times of year would be flowing with water.

IMG_2853

This was definitely a very beautiful and wonderful wilderness area. Now that I’ve seen the lower portion of Sycamore Canyon, which does look very similar to the dryer, lower portions of Oak Creek Canyon, I am very excited to check out the upper portions and riparian areas of this canyon. More to come in the future from this very special place!