Tucson – May 2022 – Butterflies

Amazing as it may seem the Tucson area is home to 3 very impressive botanical gardens. The smallest is the Tucson Botanical Garden, based on 5 acres in the middle of the city.

After taking the car in for service on a Saturday morning I was looking for something to do and found the gardens was a short distance from the garage. So off to the gardens!

Amongst the floral and fauna was an indoor space for orchids and butterflies (complete with humidity). The butterflies were amazing, and very tranquil. And don’t let anyone tell you differently – 80 and humid feels far worse than 95 and not humid, as we stepped back outside to the comfort of no humidity!

Tucson – May 2022 – A Close Look at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum was established in 1952 as a zoo, botanical garden, natural history museum and art gallery.

While there are a few animals in enclosures there, the highlight of the grounds is the botanical gardens. Most of the shots here were taken with a 400mm Canon lens, showing the amazing detail of the blooms of the desert vegetation, as well as close ups of the birds and butterflies.

Patagonia, Arizona – April 2022 – Birders Paradise

The small mountain town of Patagonia was named when Welsh miners who had gone to Patagonia in Argentina migrated to the area to work in the silver mines of Arizona. They thought (correctly) that it resembled the area they came from in Argentina so they named it after their former home.

The entire area is well known as a birders paradise, with Patagonia Lake, a creek and a hummingbird sanctuary drawing people from all over the country. We stopped by for a brief visit, and was entertained by the birds, and the people.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona – April 2022 – Sonoran Desert Specialty

The Organ Pipe Cactus is very different from the more prevalent Saguaro in that rather than 1 large trunk with arms growing off of it, the Organ Pipe cactus has numerous small ones, making it somewhat bushy, resembling the pipes of an Organ (hence the name)

It is very rare in the United States, with the national monument just north of the Mexican border being the predominant one.

In addition to the Organ Pipe Cactus and the Saguaro, the park has many other examples of desert flora.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument – April 2022 – A Look Before The Wildfire

On a recent long weekend road trip around Arizona we stopped by Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. We were fortuitous in that a week later the ‘Tunnel Wildfire’ impacted the area. Fortunately it did not damage the visitor center but much of the forest was burnt.

Sunset Crater is a result of an eruption approximately 1000 years ago, leaving this impressive landscape.

The Painted Desert – April 2022 – Colorful Badlands

The Painted Desert is a result of siltstone, mudstone and shale containing iron and manganese compounds, that erode easily. The result is a very colorful landscape, void of vegation.

While the Painted Desert goes for about 100 miles north of the Petrified Forest National Park, you get plenty of examples within the park itself.

Clifton, Arizona – April 2022 – The Big Pit

The towns of Clifton and Morenci Arizona are home to one of the largest copper mines in the world, having been that way for well over 100 years. Clifton has had booms and busts, leading to an interesting mix of seemingly desolate, but next door to the massive, very active mine.

The train station however has been beautifully restored, offering a view of the houses along the hillside across the tracks.

As you leave town headed north for the Coronado Trail (U.S. 191 – formerly Arizona 666) you reach the mine, completely destroying the mountains.

Fortunately after a couple of miles you leave this behind and arrive to a wonderful 100 miles of nature.