A frog almost entirely submerged in water, except for its head.
Chiricahua Leopard Frog Ramsey Canyon is home to the threatened Chiricahua leopard frog. © Mark Godfrey/TNC

Places We Protect

Ramsey Canyon Preserve

Arizona

Canyon walls create a cool environment for hummingbirds, black bears and threatened Chiricahua leopard frogs.

New fee rates in effect 10/4/18. Check the Visit tab for details.

Southeastern Arizona is an ecological crossroads, where the Sierra Madre of Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, and the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts all come together. The abrupt rise of mountains like the Huachucas from the surrounding arid grasslands creates “sky islands” that harbor tremendous habitat diversity and form stepping stones to the tropics. This combination of factors gives Ramsey Canyon Preserve its notable variety of plant and animal life, including such southwestern specialties as Apache and Chihuahua pines, ridge-nosed rattlesnake, lesser long-nosed bat, elegant trogon, and berylline and violet-crowned hummingbirds.

A spring-fed stream, northeast orientation, and high canyon walls provide Ramsey Canyon with a moist, cool environment unusual in the desert Southwest. Water-loving plants such as sycamores, maples, and columbines line the banks of Ramsey Creek, often growing within a few feet of cacti, yucca, and agaves. Communities ranging from semi-desert grassland to pine-fir forest are found within the vicinity of Ramsey Canyon Preserve.

Ramsey Canyon and the Upper San Pedro River Basin are situated within the Apache Highlands ecoregion, which encompasses central and southeastern Arizona, southwest New Mexico, and the northern Sierra Occidental of Mexico.

The preserve serves as a southeastern Arizona program office—a base for the Conservancy’s work with regional partners on large-scale projects such as fire management, stream restoration, and protection of rare species. Together, the Conservancy and these partners achieve much greater success than any one entity working independently. Multiple partners also ensure a broader perspective and more enduring conservation solutions.

Fees 

New rates effective 10/4/18

  • General Public: $8 per person.
  • Conservancy Members and Cochise County Residents: $5 per person
  • Children under 13: FREE!
  • Annual pass to Ramsey Canyon Preserve and Patagonia Sonoita Creek Preserve: $55
  • Group visits require prior arrangements. Please call 520-378-2785.

Parking

Preserve parking is limited to 27 spaces. These spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no parking along the road below the preserve.

Facilities

The preserve Visitor Center includes visitor parking, a nature center with a bookstore and hummingbird viewing. Here, visitors may learn about the preserve and its wild residents, the Upper San Pedro River Program, and the Conservancy by viewing interpretive exhibits, shopping in the bookstore, or simply enjoying the beauty of the lower canyon.

Please note, in consideration of canyon wildlife, pets are prohibited in the preserve. However, service animals are permitted. See additional guidelines under the “Preserve Regulations” heading below.

Bookstore

The preserve bookstore has nature-themed merchandise including adult and children’s books, birdwatcing accessories, shirts and decorative items. Proceeds help cover operations costs and conservation work across southeastern Arizona.

Guided Hikes

Ramsey Canyon Preserve offers guided walks March through November on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. The walks wander up an easy, shady trail and cover the lively natural and cultural history of the canyon. Leaders focus on birds and share information about The Nature Conservancy work here and beyond. Tours last about 2 hours.

The best months for birding at the preserve are April through September. Spring weather is unpredictable, though usually cool and dry. Early summer is generally dry and  warm. In July and August, brief afternoon rainstorms can be a daily occurrence.  Fall days are cool and bright. Occasional snows from late November through late March bring a dramatic change in the scenery. On average, temperatures at the preserve are 10-15 degrees cooler than those in Tucson.

The diverse wildlife and habitats of Ramsey Canyon may be viewed from the Hamburg Trail. This open-ended route parallels Ramsey Creek through the preserve before climbing 500 feet in a half-mile series of steep switchbacks. These lead to a scenic overlook in the Coronado National Forest one mile from the preserve headquarters. From the overlook, the trail continues upstream and enters the Miller Peak Wilderness Area where it joins other trails.

Gear

Sturdy shoes, hat, sunscreen, binoculars and plenty of water.

Voluntering

Want to volunteer at Ramsey Canyon Preserve? Fill out this volunteer application form and email to Debra Arbenz at darbenz@tnc.org.

Preserve Regulations

In consideration of the canyon's plants and animals, and staffing and space limitations, we ask all visitors and guests to observe the following regulations:

  • Please ask about policies governing photography before setting up equipment.  No buses, trailers, or large RV’s (over 20 feet) can be accommodated in the tight parking lot.
  • Smoking, pets, camping, fires, hunting, radios or tape players, collecting, feeding wildlife, motorized vehicles and bicycles are prohibited. Enjoy picnicking at the table near the entrance.
  • To preserve the natural character of our lands for our wildlife and the privacy of our visitors, we restrict the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), whether amateur or commercial, anywhere within this preserve.

Questions?

Contact preserve manager Peter Leiterman at 520-335-8740 or email him at peter.leiterman@tnc.org. For information about the gift shop, contact Debbie Arbenze at darbenz@tnc.org or call 520-378-2785.