AZ Secluded Sky Islands

NATURALIST JOURNEY

The Sky Islands mountains of Arizona harbor many remote and off-the-beaten-path destinations that promise both scenic beauty and memorable wildlife encounters. Reserve a Private Tour with Ravens-Way Wild Journeys and Naturalist & Wildlife Biologist Vincent Pinto for either a 2 or 3 – day exploration  into several remote and captivating Sky Island mountains.

Your Private Tour will travel along scenic backcountry routes en route to our numerous destinations. Over the course of your tour you will explore a wide range of native habitats, including: Riparian Forests, Chihuahuan Desert, Grasslands, Oak Woodland, Chaparral, and possibly Coniferous Forest (as weather permits).

The famed Sky Islands of Arizona harbor a truly dazzling array of species that collectively constitute a world renowned biodiversity. Here the temperate and the tropical realms artfully meet, proffering a wide array of flora and fauna.

Within the U.S. our region hosts a very impressive and unique Biodiversity featuring:

  • the most Bird species
  • the most Sparrow species
  • the most Hummingbird species
  • the most Mammals
  • the most Reptiles
  • the most Snake species
  • the most Lizard species
  • the most Ants
  • the most Bees

During your 2 or 3-day Private Tour, you may well encounter species as diverse as Golden Eagle, White-nosed Coati, Pronghorn, Bridled Titmouse, as well as other characteristic fauna that inhabit the wide range of plant communities we’ll be exploring. Wintering Raptors, Waterfowl, Sparrows, and a wide range of other birds promise great birding along the way.

With luck we will also spot Whitetail Deer, Mule Deer, Bobcat, Coyote, Collared Peccary and other mammals characteristic of these secluded Sky Islands. We even have a possibility to spot an errant Elk, as they have wandered down from the White Mountains in recent years!

During each day of your Private Tour Vincent will lead you into the fascinating geology realms of the mountain ranges we will explore, while searching for and enjoying it’s unique wildlife and native plants.

As a passionate Ethnobotanist, Vincent will also teach you the uses of a number of local native plants, hearkening to a time when this ethnobotanical knowledge was crucial to everyday life. He will also point out any wildlife tracks and signs, memorable land features, and significant historic sites. Our travels will take us to the verge of the San Carlos Apache Reservation, which Vincent will put into an historical context.

Our Naturalist Saunters will be comprised of a series of short, easy, and slow-paced walks designed to maximize our chances of encountering wildlife. The total distance covered each day on foot will be 2 – 3 miles over terrain that varies from flat and easy to occasionally steep in short sections. Overall we rate the walks as moderate.

As weather conditions permit, we may venture into the high country of the Sky Islands, where even a bit of snow is possible during certain months of the year! We will be monitoring the weather forecast regularly, and two weeks before your private tour, we will send you a complete gear list to insure that you will be prepared for a wide range of meteorological conditions.

Private Tour participants choosing the 3rd-day extension will enjoy a more in-depth exploration of the region. Winter weather permitting, this may well include a trip into the high country of the lofty Pinaleno Mountains – the tallest Sky Island in the Madrean Archipelago.

The Pinaleno Mountains have over 7,000 feet of vertical relief, more than any other range in the state. The mountains are surrounded by the Sonoran-Chihuahuan Desert.  Subalpine forests cover the higher elevations.  We will search for the elusive Mount Graham Red Squirrel and other denizens of this massive Sky Island.

Desert scrub and grasslands surround the base of this impressive mountain range. Deep canyons often have running water and support lush understory vegetation. Therefore, our  side trips will increase the chances of encountering a wide range of wildlife.

LODGING

The RWWJ group will be lodging and dining in the Safford-Thatcher area, which will serve as our trip base. While there are many similar options available in the area, we suggest the Copper Canyon Hotel & Suites – a Best Western property recently renovated property. Every participant is responsible for making their own reservations via the various hotel search engines that promote hotels in Safford, AZ.

TRANSPORTATION

Unless you prefer to request a Private Tour with transportation at an extra charge, every participant is responsible for their own transportation throughout our RWWJ Private Tours. We thank you in advance for choosing to carpool with your friends to minimize the number of vehicles. All participants must provide the type/model/license plate of their vehicle and the names of the participants who will share the ride.

PARK ENTRY FEES

As our itinerary will likely include a stop at an Arizona State Park, please be advised that there is an entry fee of $10.00 per vehicle (1-4 adults).

MEALS

The Copper Canyon Hotel provides a very basic continental breakfast that is included in its rates. You may, however, choose to dine at any number of nearby restaurants in Safford. Lunch will always be in the field, and it is your responsibility, whether you choose the 2-day or the 3-day option. Each room has a small fridge to store perishables. Dinner will be on your own, and fortunately, there are many options at local restaurants in Safford.

RWWJ TUITION

2-DAY OPTION

The tuition for your 2-day Naturalist Journeys with an expert Ethnobotanist, Wildlife Biologist, Professional Birder, Naturalist, and Wilderness Survival Instructor is $350 per person with your own transportation or $300 including transportation, and it is paid directly to RWWJ by check. Tuition Excludes: Lodging, All Meals, Park Entry fees, and Gas.

3-DAY OPTION

The tuition for your 3-day Naturalist Journeys with an expert Ethnobotanist, Wildlife Biologist, Professional Birder, Naturalist, and Wilderness Survival Instructor is $450 per person without transportation or $600 with transportation in a Toyota 4-Runner, and it is paid directly to RWWJ by check. Tuition Excludes: Lodging, All Meals, Park Entry fees, and Gas.

RWWJ REGISTRATION

1. Please be advised that every participant needs to complete a Waiver & Registration Form. To download please click: RWWJ REGISTRATION FORM & RWWJ WAIVER FORM
Please include any pertinent medical issues and current medications, as well as valid Emergency Contact information on the Registration Forms.

2. Please send both RWWJ Registration Forms back to us along with your Tuition check to:

RAVENS-WAY WILD JOURNEYS LLC
P.O. Box 393
Patagonia, Arizona, 85624