You’ll pass the Cornado National Forest Ranger Station as you head up to the 300-acre Ramsey Canyon Preserve, an easily accessible stream-influenced canyon protected by the Nature Conservancy (27 Ramsey Canyon Rd., 520/378-2785, www.nature.org, Mar.–Oct. daily 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Nov.–Feb. daily 9 a.m.–4 p.m.).
Ramsey Canyon is a very popular area with bird-watchers, who come to see the more than 14 species of hummingbird and other avian species that stop over in the cool riparian canyon, fed by babbling Ramsey Creek, protected by high canyon walls, and crowded with sycamores, maples, and columbines.
The upper part of the canyon is within the Miller Peak Wilderness Area. Make sure you stop at the Nature Conservancy’s excellent visitors center, which has maps, trail guides, books, T-shirts, and helpful, friendly volunteers. It’s a good idea to get there early; this area is very popular and the parking lot only has 23 spaces—first-come, first-served.
To reach the preserve, take Ramsey Canyon Road west from Highway 92 south of Sierra Vista (6 miles south of Fry Blvd.); the preserve is at the end of the road, four miles west of the highway.
Also along Ramsey Canyon Road, before you reach the preserve, you’ll find the Arizona Folklore Preserve, a quaint little theater along the creek where Arizona State Balladeer and nationally known folky Dolan Ellis puts on acoustic folk concerts on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. The shows are popular, so call ahead (520/378-6165, www.arizonafolklore.com) for a reservation.
© Tim Hull from Moon Tucson, 1st Edition