AZ Secluded Sky Islands


February 9 – 11, 2019

The Sky Islands mountains of Arizona harbor many remote and off-the-beaten-path destinations that promise both scenic beauty and memorable wildlife encounters. Join Naturalist & Wildlife Biologist Vincent Pinto for 2 or 3 full days of leisurely Nature walks into several remote and captivating Sky Island mountains.

We 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

We 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’ll 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!

Each day we’ll delve into the fascinating geology of the ranges we’ll encounter, 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.

Typically the weather in early February fluctuates from cool-to-warm in all the wilderness areas that we will explore. As conditions permit, we may venture into the high country of the Sky Islands, where even a bit of snow is possible! We will be monitoring the weather forecast regularly, and two weeks before the tour, we will send you a complete gear list to insure that you will be prepared for a wide range of meteorological conditions.

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.


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, located at 450 E. Entertainment Avenue, Safford, AZ. 85546. Every participant is responsible for making their own reservations via the various hotel search engines that promote hotels in Safford, AZ.  We encourage you to reserve your room as soon as possible either online or by calling the hotel directly: (928) 348-9400.


Unless you choose to travel with Vincent in his Toyota 4-Runner at an extra charge, every participant is responsible for their own transportation throughout the event. 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.


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).


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 be in the field and is your responsibility on both Feb. 8 and 9, as well as the both if you choose the 3-day extension. Each room has a small fridge to store perishables. Dinner will be on your own, including many choices at local restaurants in Safford.


2-DAY OPTION – FEBRUARY 9 & 10, 2019

The tuition for your 2-day Naturalist Journeys with an expert Ethnobotanist, Wildlife Biologist, Professional Birder, Naturalist, and Wilderness Survival Instructor is $250 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  – FEBRUARY 9, 10 & 11,  2019

The tuition for your 3-day Naturalist Journeys with an expert Ethnobotanist, Wildlife Biologist, Professional Birder, Naturalist, and Wilderness Survival Instructor is $330 per person without transportation or $430 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.


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:

P.O. Box 393
Patagonia, Arizona, 85624