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Cave Creek Canyon Birding At Portal

Program Number: 11973RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/25/2014 - 5/30/2014; 4/12/2015 - 4/17/2015; 4/26/2015 - 5/1/2015; 5/24/2015 - 5/29/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Portal, Arizona
Price starting at: $1,049.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Birding; Natural History
Meals: 15; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

One of the premier birding areas of the U.S., Cave Creek Canyon’s proximity to Mexico and unique highland habitat produce a rich mix of species. The Chiricahua Mountains provide a migration corridor above the surrounding desert and rise through seven life zones. Providing a wide range of ecosystems, it is one of only two sites in the U.S. where the Elegant Trogon nests and is home to 16 varieties of hummingbirds. Join a birding professional for daily field trips in our exploration of the mountains.




Highlights

• Journey to the San Simon Valley to view Bendire’s Thrashers and Inca Doves before searching local mountains for Mexican Chickadees and Painted Redstarts.
• Visit Cochise Lakes and the Willcox Playa, a habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds and a popular destination for birders.
• Dazzle in the spectacular views — and spot high elevation birds — during a field trip to Rustler Park, located high in the Chiricahuas.



Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile at a time; getting in/out of vans. Elevations of 8,000 feet.



So you can get the most out of your experience, all Road Scholar birding programs have a maximum participant-to-instructor ratio of 14:1. This program has a ratio of 8-1.




Date Specific Information

5-25-2014

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



4-12-2015

At this time, the spring migration has begun. There may still be lingering winter birds. Many ducks will be seen at Cochise Lake and the grasslands will yield many sparrows.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



4-26-2015

During this week, the spring migrating and arriving breeding species will be occupying the Mountains. This will be the time many warblers can be seen.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



5-24-2015

This week, the mountains will be teeming with spring migrating and arriving breeding species. This will be the most likley opportunity to see the Trogon.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.




Portal

Perched in the Chiricahua Mountains, this little town is an internationally known bird-watching retreat. With Mexico less than 40 miles to the south, Portal attracts many rare Mexican birds, which come to nest in the spring and summer. Natural history buffs, nature lovers and amateur astronomers are all frequent visitors to the area.



Accommodations
Small resort hotel in Cave Creek Canyon.
Meals and Lodgings
   Portal Peak Lodge
  Portal, AZ 5 nights
 Portal Peak Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: Southwestern-style rooms surrounded by a wooden deck furnished w/patio tables and chairs. Lodge is built beside Cave Creek behind the Portal Store & Cafe.
  Contact info: 2358 S Rock House Road
Portal, AZ 85632 USA
phone: 520-558-2223
  Room amenities: Coffee in each room. Color television and refrigerated rooms.
  Facility amenities: Each room has a furnished deck to enjoy the magnificient views of the area.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights prior: $95.00 When making reservations for an early or extended stay, mention you are participating in the Geronimo Road Scholar Program.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Additional nights after: $95.00 When making reservations for an early or extended stay, mention you are participating in the Geronimo Road Scholar Program.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check-In after 4:00 PM. You will be staying at Portal Peak Lodge that night.
  End of Program:
1:00 PM following lunch. You will be staying at Portal Peak Lodge the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free parking on paved surface for program participants. No covered parking available.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Portal, AZ
  Nearest city or town:  Douglas, AZ
  Nearest highway: Interstate 10 or State Hwy 80
  Nearest airport:  Tucson International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Portal, AZ
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Tucson AZ

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Geronimo Educational Travel Studies
phone: 520-432-5534
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$75
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

3 Hours 

 

Distance:

 

150 miles

   

Geronimo will offer one shuttle pick-up at 1 p.m. on the first day of the program and return to airport by 4 p.m. on last day of program.

 
Driving Directions
  New Mexico Traveling through New Mexico on I-10, before reaching the AZ border turn left on Highway 80 heading south towards Rodeo, New Mexico. Before entering Rodeo you will turn right on NM 533 towards Portal, AZ. This road will take you to Portal Peak Lodge and General Store on your left.
  Tucson, AZ Follow I-10 East into New Mexico. Approximately seven miles into New Mexico turn right on NM 533 towards Portal. Follow this road to Portal where you will see Portal Peak Lodge and General Store on your left.
Elevation Note: Portal Peak Lodge is located at 5000 ft. Field trips to approximately 7000 feet elevation.

Equipment Requirements: Good walking shoes, binoculars, spotting scope (optional).
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Check In at Portal Peak Lodge. Take this opportunity to observe the magnificent views of beautiful vistas, imposing canyon walls, and mysterious caves.
(Sunday, May 25)

Note: Orientation follows dinner. This will be an opportunity to find out about schedules, program activities and answer any questions you may have regarding the program.



   
 Arrive To: Check-In after 4:00 PM. This charming Lodge is located in a remote area surrounded by majestic mountains, abundant wildlife and diverse flora. Enjoy the tranquility of your surroundings before gathering at the Lodge restaurant for a 6:PM dinner.
 Dinner: Dinner served at Lodge at 6:00 PM. The restaurant will serve home cooked nutritious meals. This will be an opportunity to enjoy the company and camaraderie of new friends. The Lodge staff is very friendly, courteous and helpful.
 Evening: Orientation immediately following dinner. The group leader will review the week's itinerary, discuss what the birding species you can expect to see and introductions will be made . This is a remote area so be aware cell phones do not get reception and internet is not always available . This will be a week to leave the cares of daily life behind and enjoy the natural beauty of this area.
   
Accommodations: Portal Peak Lodge
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: The Chiricahua Mountains provide some of the greatest diversity of species in all of North America, for birds as well as mammals, reptiles, plants, and insects. Cave Creek is one of the few canyon areas in the US where the Elegant Trogon nests.
(Monday, May 26)

Note: Explore Cave Creek Canyon where the Elegant Trogon nests.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast served at 6:30 AM. Start your day with a delicious home-cooked breakfast. The coffee is always on. You may want to take an early morning walk around the Lodge grounds to observe the birds and wildlife.
 Morning: The Birding Adventure begins. Walk along Main Street starting at the Portal Peak Lodge and Store and enjoy the many bird feeders and hummingbird feeders. Arrangements have been made to visit some of the local feeders. Fourteen species of hummingbirds can be seen (Berylline, Violet-crowned, Lucifer, Broad-billed, White-eared, Blue-throated, Magnificent, Plain-capped Starthroat, Black-chinned, Costa’s, Anna’s, Broad-tailed, Calliope, and Rufous). There has been a Great Horned Owl nesting by the Portal Library for years and the Acorn Woodpecker colony is doing great. You will also start to see large Sycamore trees along Cave Creek so watch for Painted Redstarts and some of the lower canyon species mentioned below.
 Lunch: 12:00 noon lunch is served. The group will return to the Lodge for a hot lunch. Following lunch the group will be refreshed and ready for an afternoon of birding.
 Afternoon: Following lunch the birding adventure resumes at Portal-Paradise Road. This road starts out in a dry chaparral area just above Portal. Keep an eye out for Black-chinned Sparrows, Greater Roadrunners, Rock Wrens, and Scott’s Orioles. About two miles up you will notice a change in habitat to oak-juniper. Watch for Juniper Titmice, Phainopeplas, Red-breasted Nuthatches and all of the Thrashers. Check out the rock outcroppings for Rufous-crowned Sparrows . Visitors from around the world travel to the Chiricahuas to view the magnificent elegant trogon bird in its surroundings. This area is home to 330 species of birds which include 14 species of hummingbirds and 10 species of owls. Our group will be continously on the lookout for the elegant trogon which nests in this area.
 Dinner: Dinner served at 6:PM. Time for a home cooked meal prepared for the group. As this area is remote all of the group meals will be served at Portal Peak Lodge. The meals will be varied, prepared in the Lodge kitchen and most special request can be accommodated. This will be an opportunity to review the birding list and enjoy the company of new friends.
   
Accommodations: Portal Peak Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Rodeo, New Mexico is located in the San Simon Valley, a wide desert valley with the Chiricahua Mountains to the west and the Peloncillo Mountains to the east.
(Tuesday, May 27)

Note: Travel to the San Simon Valley to learn about and view the desert birds.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast served at 6:30 AM. Breakfast served at 6:30 AM. Start your day with a delicious home-cooked breakfast. The coffee is always on. You may want to take an early morning walk around the Lodge grounds to observe the birds and wildlife
 Morning: This morning the group will travel to San Simon and Rodeo. This road will have brushy areas with Bendire’s Thrashers, Cassin’s Sparrows and possibly a White-tailed Kite. While passing through Rodeo be on the look out for Inca Doves, Gila Woodpeckers, and Great-tailed Grackles.
 Lunch: 12:00 PM lunch served at Portal Peak Cafe. Return to the Lodge for a hearty lunch. This is a time to refresh and prepare for an afternoon of birding.
 Afternoon: Field trip resumes after lunch with Mountain birding.This afternoon you may have a good chance to find Elegant Trogons, Buff-breasted Flycatchers, Mexican Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches. Other species to be on the look out for are Montezuma Quail, Yellow-eyed Juncos, Painted Redstarts, Northern Pygmy-owls, Arizona Woodpeckers Bridled Titmice, Hutton’s Vireos and Virgina’s Warblers.
 Dinner: Dinner served at 6:00 PM. The Lodge will once again provide a home-cooked meal. After dinner the group will have an opportunity to relax around the dinner table and review birding lists.
   
Accommodations: Portal Peak Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Located near Willcox, AZ are Cochise Lakes and the Willcox Playa. This is habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds and is a popular destination for birders.
(Wednesday, May 28)

Note: Today the group will leave the Mountain for a scenic drive to the small historic community of Willcox, AZ, home to famed singer/entertainer Rex Allen. Located near Willcox are Cochise Lakes and the Willcox Playa. This is habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds. Enroute to the Lakes the group will be looking for Chihuahuan birds and hawks.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast served at 6:30 AM. Start your day with a delicious home-cooked breakfast. The coffee is always on. You may want to take an early morning walk around the Lodge grounds to observe the birds and wildlife
 Morning: The journey begins after breakfast. The group will leave the Mountain for a scenic drive to the small historic community of Willcox, AZ, home to famed singer/entertainer Rex Allen. Located near Willcox are Cochise Lakes and the Willcox Playa. This is habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds. Enroute to the Lakes the group will be looking for Chihuahuan Birds. We will also be on the alert for Zone Tailed Hawks and Golden Eagles.
 Lunch: The group will enjoy the local cuisine of Willcox, AZ.
 Afternoon: The birding continues after lunch. There are many birds to view and wildlife to observe. Early In the afternoon the group will start the return journey to Portal Peak Lodge. There will be an opportunity to view many birds along the way.
 Dinner: Dinner served at 6:00 PM. The Lodge has prepared a home cooked hearty meal for the group to enjoy. It has been a full day of birding while enjoying the beauty of the area. Following dinner the group will once again review birding lists. Rest will be welcomed.
   
Accommodations: Portal Peak Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Rustler Park is a wildflower-carpeted meadow high in the Chiricahuas. Around the turn of the century, rustlers concealed stolen stock there while altered brands healed and pursuit cooled. Many high elevation birds can be seen here.
(Thursday, May 29)

Note: View many high elevation birds at Rustler Park.



   
 Breakfast: 6:30 AM breakfast served. Start your day with a delicious home-cooked breakfast. As each day offers new findings, you may want to take an early morning walk around the Lodge grounds to observe the birds and wildlife
 Morning: All day birding field trip for a day of High Elevation Birding and a visit to Rustler's Park. Continuing up the road you will reach Onion Saddle. Species at this altitude include the Olive Warblers, Red-faced Warblers, Grace’s Warblers, Yellow-eyed Juncos, Pygmy Nuthatchs, and Flammulated Owls. Continuing up the Mountain the group will be looking for Hairy Woodpeckers, Greater Pewees, Steller’s Jays, Mexican Chickadees, Western Bluebirds and Northern Saw-whet Owls may be spotted in this area.
 Lunch: Boxed lunch served in field. There are so many birds to observe, natural beauty to enjoy and the excitement of wildlife that the group will enjoy a boxed lunch.
 Afternoon: Birding continues following lunch. At the top of the Mountain is Rustler Park. All of the high elevation species can be seen here. Spring and fall migration may bring mixed flocks of Townsend’s, Hermit, Yellow-rumped, Grace’s, Olive and Red-faced Warblers. Look around the Forest Service buildings. This is a favorite spot for the Mexican Chickadee. Check out the steep cleared area above the meadow. There is a spring on the left hand side and the Red-faced Warbler likes this area. This is an old burn area and wildflowers are prolific here.
 Dinner: Dinner served at 6:PM. Return to the Lodge for an evening meal. Following dinner the group will review the birding list while relaxing around the dinner table. The clean mountain air and a full day of birding will make for a good night's rest.
   
Accommodations: Portal Peak Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: A last birding expedition to Cave Creek Canyon with its running stream, an exceptional feature in the arid Southwest.
(Friday, May 30)

Note: Cave Creek Canyon is a birder's paradise. The beauty of this remote area will be forever in your memory.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast served at 6:30 AM. Start your last program day with a delicious home-cooked breakfast. The coffee is always on. You may want to take an early morning walk around the Lodge grounds to observe the birds and wildlife.
 Morning: Field trip to scenic Cave Creek. The group will return once again to this area of stunning vistas of the ragged cliff faces which are themselves marked with numerous caves. Nestled in the canyon this rich forest supports a diverse range of wildlife and birds. One could visit this magnificent area daily and never witness all that the mountains have to offer. Memories will stay with you for a lifetime. In fact, you may hear the Canyons calling you for a return visit.
 Lunch: 12:00 PM lunch is served. The Lodge will serve a farewell lunch. This week you have witnessed the wonders of nature and seen many species of birds. The week has gone by very quickly but the memories will linger for a lifetime. Program concludes following lunch.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


A Birder's Guide to Southeastern Arizona


Author: Lane, James A.


Birding Arizona


Author: McMillon, Bill


Davis and Russell's Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona


Author: Davis, William A. and Stephen M. Russell


Field Guide to the Birds of North America. Third Edition.


Author: National Geographic Society


Flowers of the Southwest Deserts


Author: Dodge, Natt


Mountain Islands and Desert Seas: A Natural History of the U.S. Mexican Borderlands.


Author: Gehlbach, Frederick R.


Shrubs and Trees of the Southwest Uplands


Author: Elmore, Francis H.


Trogons of the Arizona Borderlands


Author: Taylor, Richard Cachor




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