November 10, 2020
By Steven J. Cary
Marcy and I laid out our October travel plans in four parts: (1) Bryce Canyon, UT; (2) Grand Canyon’s North Rim, AZ; (3) Palm Desert and San Diego, CA; and (4) Huachuca Mountains, AZ. I did not expect butterfly opportunities at every location and I was not surprised when lateness of the season, high altitude, and ongoing regional drought nixed meaningful butterflying at Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon. We had to settled for scenery — poor us! San Diego was essentially a fun family visit in a huge urban area, though we did see one Monarch. Palm Desert worked out very nicely for butterflies as I posted last month in “Palm Desert.”
Upon leaving San Diego, we returned eastward along I-8 and I-10, then made camp in the Huachuca Mountains of southeastern Arizona, about halfway home. Place names such as Coronado National Forest and Cochise County tell you a lot about the area’s deep history. That region is highly regarded for its sky island landscapes in which geologically upthrust mountain ranges punctuate broad, down-dropped, desert basins, creating physiographic relief exceeding more than 5,000 feet. Resulting local ecosystems encompass desert scrublands and semi-arid grasslands up through oak/pine/juniper woodlands and even mixed conifer forests where summits approach 10,000 feet above sea level. In this biologically rich area, the Mexican Sierra Madre exerts a strong influence over flora and fauna, making it unique within the boundaries of the US. New Mexico’s Bootheel exhibits similar zoogeographical affinities, but not to the same degree or with the same public access.
Read more Huachuca Dreams