This granite outcropping is an igneous rock formation that forms a natural dam. This causes the land above the dam to form into a lush wetland supporting the types of life you see along the trail. This formation formed about 1.4 billion years ago when molten materail deep inside the earth slowly cooled.
The main trail from the Visitor Center/Gift Shop to Ramsey Overlook crosses Ramsey Creek in several places. Ramsey Creek is an important tributary to the San Pedro River. This aids in the diversity of the plant and animal life in the area. If you are patient you may see some wildlife along the creek. Sometimes after a rainstorm you cannot cross the creek.
Ramsey Canyon is nestled between Hereford and Sierra Vista in Southeast Arizona. It has a very diverse ecosystem because four different ecological areas converge here. The Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts; the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Madre all converge here. This combined with the elevation difference between the desert floor and the mountains allows you to see an incredible diversity of wildlife and plantlife in a small area. The preserve is open 8 AM to 5 PM February through October, and 9 AM to 4 PM November through January. It is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's days. Entrance fees are $5.00 per person. Conservancy members and Cochise County residents, $3.00 per person. Children under 16 are Free. There is no admission charge the first Saturday of every month.
The trail up Ramsey Canyon to the Overlook rises 700 feet in 1 mile. It is fairly rocky and has a number of switchbacks. The trail follows the creek and crosses it several times. If you hike about .5 miles past the overlook you will join other trails.
I always feel one of the most interesting things to do anywhere is meet the locals. For Sierra Vista, I will start with Rikki. One look at her and you can tell she is an interesting person. Nice eyes and a great smile too. Here also is Stephanie, Charley (if you need to know anything about books or horror movies ask him) and last but not least Tiffany and Angel.
A major portion of the San Pedro House Trail leads along the San Pedro River. The amount of water in the San Pedro varies a lot by the time of year and the recent weather. This area has a wide variety of wildlife and is a very popular area for birdwatching. 375 species of birds transit, or live, in this area.
The San Pedro House sells books and gifts and dispenses information about the San Pedro Riparian Area, and other attractions near the San Pedro River. There is also a small interpretive Trail by the house, and a longer interpretive trail. The San Pedro House is open daily from .9:30 AM to 4:30 PM. This area has been designated a Globally Important Bird Area. The house itself was built in the 1930s by the Boquillas Land and Cattle Company as the home for the Ranch Manager. There used to be 10,000 head of cattle grazing in this area, before it was aquired by the government and designated a Conservation Area.
Currently, one of the plants growing in this area is the Yucca. This plant is very useful and was long used as medicine sore joints and arthritis, shampoo, ropes, clothing, building materials and food.
At this site, archeologists found evidence of Clovis People hunting a large female mammoth. The layer of soil indicated that the hunt occurred during a time of drought when the hunters could lay in wait near watering holes. Several Clovis Points were found here too, giving testimony to the epic battle fought.
The earth has recorded its own history like pages in a book. This history is recorded in the sand, clay, dirt, limestone, decayed plants and animals, and artifacts left behind. It forms a story for those who can read it. The story tells of changing climates and wondrous animals that became extinct years ago. Changing conditions like climate cause the formation of different layers. These layers are frequently named for people or locations in the area. If you look closely at the layers in the photo, you can pick out a dark grayish layer called the Clanton Clay Black Mat. The evidence of Clovis Man's existence was found below this layer. The Clanton Clay Black Mat layer was formed about 11,000 years ago. It was named after the infamous Clanton Family from Tombstone, and was probably caused by a sudden rise in the water level in the San Pedro Valley. Did some massive flooding 11,000 years ago drive the Clovis People from their homes here?
Most of North America was still covered in ice. In Arizona, what is now a semi-arid high desert was a lush green valley abundant with water, filled with lots of green trees and plants, and teeming with wildlife. Massive animals like Mammoths, Bison, Camels, Giant Sloths, Saber-toothed Tigers, and Dire Wolves roamed the area. This abundance of food attracted the Clovis People. Evidence of this hunting has been found in the form of Clovis Points, a distinctive fluted spearhead used exclusively by the Clovis People. Some of the evidence of the Clovis People living in this area was found in these natural washes, others by digging.
The Murray Springs Clovis Site is one of the oldest sites ever excavated in North America. It shows evidence of human habitation in the San Pedro Valley area 13,000 years ago. That would make it during the end of the last ice age or during the Pleistocene Era. It offers a rare glimpse into conditions and life during that time. There are more Clovis Sites in the San Pedro Area than any other place on the continent. Clovis Sites get there name from the first such site discovered just outside Clovis, New Mexico in 1932. It is widely believed the Clovis people came from Asia and walked across a land bridge to the Americas about 15,000 years ago, arriving in what is now Arizona about 13,000 years ago.
Currently the Murray Springs Clovis Site has a short interpretive trail loop that is very informative for anyone wishing to learn more about life in the area 13,000 years ago. It also has a trail that connects with the San Pedro Trail and leads to other attractions. The San Pedro Trail will eventually become part of the Arizona Trail which will reach from Mexico to Utah.
The Coronado National Monument is located in Southeast Arizona along the Mexican Border. It consists of 4750 Acres of Oak Woodland and mountainous terrain. It is through this area that Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and his expedition traveled in their search for the fabled "seven cities of Cibola" from 1540 to 1542. The national monument has a visitor's center with a small museum/gift shop, a short trail with exhibits, the Coronado Cave Trail (3/4 mile each way with a steep and rocky climb; bring a flashlight and sturdy waking shoes), Joe's Canyon Trail leading to Montezuma Pass Overlook (3.1 miles each way; great views of Arizona and Mexico. joins up with the Montezuma Pass Parking Area), Yaqui Ridge Trail (a 1 mile detour off Joe's Canyon Trail with a steep descent) leading to the Mexican Border and representing the start of the Arizona Trail a trail leading from Mexico to Utah (not complete yet), and a the Coronado Peak Trail a short detour from Joe's Canyon Trail leading to the top of Coronado Peak offering historical information along the way. Joe's Canyon Trail rises 1300 feet in the first mile and is not easy. Bring water and protection from the sun. For more details about the monument see my Coronado National Monument Page.
The Fort Huachuca Museum had so many interesting exhibits that they had to open an annex across the street. The annex is housed in a former movie theater. Photo 1 shows the annex. Photo 2 shows a recreation of a campsite. Photo 3 shows an old style US Army wagon. Photo 4 shows a display about Ed Schieffelin the guy who founded Tombstone. Photo 5 is about intelligence on the border.
Every since Fort Huachuca was established in 1877 to help protect the settlers coming into Tombstone and other areas in Southeast Arizona, African-American Soldiers have been important to the function of the fort and its history. The museum has a good display honoring the contributions of these soldiers. The name "Buffalo Soldier" came from area Native Americans who gave the soldiers that name because their hair was curly like that of a buffalo, and more importantly as a sign of respect for the strength and stamina the soldiers displayed. The buffalo was revered by the Native Americans so this was a term of respect. I am glad they included a woman in the display too, because it honors the contributions women have made and continue to make to the US Army. The Fort Huachuca Museum is open from 9 AM to 4 PM Monday through Friday, and 1 PM to 4 PM, Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.