Page 1

Reflections from AWC Honors Students

Desert Hiking Handbook

Let’s Take a Walk


Copyright 2010 by the authors of this book: Arizona Western College Honors Desert Hiking Class Fall 2010. The book authors retain sole copyright to his or her contributions to this book.

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Hiking is exercise and anyone reading this book should first consult a physician before exercising. Hiking is an activity with inherent risk and can be hazardous. This guide is designed to be a resource, general guide, not a substitute for professional training and or personal experience. The publisher and the author make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaim all warranties, including, without limitation, warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every individual or situation. The creators, producers, participants, and distributors of this book do not assume liability for injury or loss in connection with this material. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for damages arising herefrom. Please exercise common sense in applying any principles in this book to your specific level of expertise. 2


let’s take a walk Reflections from AWC Honors Students

Editors Petronella Newhard Tiffany Mullennix

3

Written by Arizona Western College Honors Desert Hiking Class 2009


Acknowledgements

The following people made especially significant contributions to this book for which we are extremely grateful Elizabeth Renaud, Professor of Early Childhood Education and Honors Director, Hiking instructor, and supervisor for the creation of this book. George Montopoli, Professor of Mathematics, Hiking Instructor, and creator of the maps and geographical information included herein. Barbara Belobaba, Professor of English/Journalism, editor, and kind supporter through our struggles to bring this to fruition. Michael Oliveros, Graphic Designer and mastermind of “the guide“ Arizona Western College’s Fall 2009 Honors Hiking Class, the contributors of the information included in this guide. Oscar Cabrera

Petronella Newhard

Kasey Fry

Andrehina Rodriguez

Sara Gregoire

Jessica Saucedo

J. Christian Guerrero

Laura Vasquez

C. Anthony Gutierrez

Kimberly Nikki Wade

Suyana Lozada

George Yanez

Tiffany Mullinnex

And many more of our friends & relatives who supported us along the way… Thank you, Petronella Newhard & Tiffany Mullinnex 4


Reflections from the AWC Honors Director Recognition, Prestige and Commitment to Excellence: the distinction edicts of the Arizona Western College Honors Program. Tall order for young adults climbing that mountain towards personal and professional enlightenment. Yet, these exceptional students accept and surpass these program standards everyday and within every aspect of their lives. To promote healthy lifestyles, foster fellowship and build a community of compassionate learners sensitive to their role in protecting the environment, the AWC Honors Program offered the course HON 297 Honors Desert Hiking during the academic year 2009-2010. “Let’s take a walk!“ Thirteen Honors students accepted the invitation to explore our desert home. The quest included “guided exploration of southwest wilderness partnered with research documentation of the outdoor experience.“ (AWC HON 297 syllabus 2009) Our journey over seventeen weeks included seven hikes, visiting four mountain areas within Yuma County. Prior to our hikes, the students collaboratively researched chosen topics of general interest to prepare for the quests. Teams of students gathered beta during the hike/event with personal accounts, photographs and a GPS, global positioning system. Student teams submitted research and documentation at the close of the semester resulting in the awardment of college credit. Two of the thirteen Honors students, Petronella Newhard and Tiffany Mullennix, edited the content submitted by their peers as an Honors Capstone Project, HON 285. This guidebook Let’s take a walk; Reflections from AWC Honors Students is a collection of research of AWC Honors Students, fall 2009.

Liz Renaud Honors Director, 2008-2011 Arizona Western College

5


Our desert home, Yuma, Arizona Deserts cover about one fifth of the Earth's land surface. Desert areas receive less than ten inches of rain and evaporates more than 10 inches of rain annually. There are four deserts in North America: the Great Basin, Mojave, Chihuahuan, and the Sonoran. The Sonoran Desert is a subtropical desert covering 120,000 square miles in southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. In the United States, it covers southwestern Arizona and southeastern California. In Mexico, it includes most of Baja California and the western half of the state of Sonora. Yuma sits in the hottest and driest region of this desert, the Lower Colorado River Valley. More rain falls on the Sonoran Desert than any other desert. Sufficient rainfall during winter and summer months foster spring and summer blossoms. Most of our precipitation annually is thankfully due to the summer monsoon season, a large scale weather pattern which causes thunderstorms. More than half of our annual rainfall is received during the monsoon season. The key to our unique climate is the amount of rainfall at any given date and time. When it rains, the desert is damp and the air is cool. In the absence of rain, the desert is dry and hot. If the desert is windy, sandstorms are likely. Particular wind patterns create whirlwinds or dust devils. Desert valleys are hot, while mountains are cool. Some mountains, dependent on elevation, may be snow covered.

Sources: Adams, D.K., and A.C. Comrie, 1997: The North American Monsoon. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 78, 2197-2213. Douglas, M.W., R.A. Maddox, K Howard, and S. Reyes, 1993: The Mexican monsoon. J. Climate, 6, 1665-1667. NOAA/National Weather Service. (2004). The North American Monsoon. Reports to the Nation on our Changing Planet. August 2004, from http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/outreach/Report-to-the-Nation-Monsoon_aug04.pdf . “Protect the Sonoran Desert“, http://www.sonorandesert.org “Sonoran“, http://www.npca.org/explore_the_parks/new_parks/sonoran.asp “Sonoran Desert &endash; DesertUSA“, http://www.desertusa.com/du_sonoran.html “Sonoran Desert Naturalist Homepage“, http://arizonensis.org/sonoran/index.html

6


Emergency Contact List BLM Yuma Field Office

2555 E. Gila Ridge Rd, Yuma, AZ, 85364....................................................... (928)317-3200

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

9300 E 28th St, Yuma, AZ 85364............................................................... (928)783-7861

US Customs & Border Patrol, Information Line.................................................................. (877)CBP-5511 Yuma County Sheriff’s Department

200 West Court Street, Yuma, AZ 85364....................................................... (928)783-4427

Yuma Police Department

1500 South 1st Avenue, Yuma, AZ, 85364..................................................... (928)373-4700

Inform at least two seperate people of your plans to explore. Provide your location, vehicle information, wardrobe (identifiable clothing i.e. yellow shirt) & approximate time of arrival. If you know your path/trail, provide that info accordingly. Lastly, give yourself a time limit. Your contacts will call for help if you do not return in a timely manner.

7


First Aid Personal First Aid Kit CHECKLIST: (Each hiker should pack his/her own kit.)

❑ Sterile gloves ❑ Carbo/ Protein Bars ❑ Bandages; Elastic roll, adhesive bandages (various sizes), butterfly, and gauze pads. ❑ Electrolyte replacement (powdered and/or gel) ❑ Alcohol pads, antiseptic ointment, chemical heat and cold packs, antimicrobial hand wipes

❑ Over-the-counter drugs: (Antacid, Antihistamine, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, etc.) ❑ All in one tool: Knife, pliers, tweezer, can opener and flashlight.

It is important to examine kits before each outing. Make sure all supplies are in good condition and replenish any missing items. If there are expired medications, it is probably best to replace them with a newer stock.

Sources: Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration - SymptomsofDehydration.com Assembling a Basic First Aid Kit for Home or Travel - essortment.com 4 Ways to Prevent Common Hiking Injuries - LIVESTRONG.com Checklist for a Fist Aid Kit - Trails.com Pack a First Aid Kit for a Hike - Trails.com Outdoor First Aid - hiking dude.com Dealing With Emergencies-First Aid and Incident Management for Walkers, Hikers, and Ramblers - go4awalk.com Dealing With A Bleeding Wound/ Sprains and Strains - Lifetips.com How to Avoid Injuries by Hiking - mamashealth.com

8


Getting Started

Common Injuries & How to Deal With Them: Minor Cuts, Scrapes, and Bleeding Wounds  This is where that First Aid kit comes in handy. When dealing with minor bleeding wounds cleanliness is of the utmost importance. If a second person is going to be taking care of the injured person, the second should wear some sterile gloves. If the wounds are still bleeding, pressure should be applied with a clean cloth or even a gauze pad. Then wounds should be cleaned with alcohol pads and covered with bandages. Blisters  Blisters are usually caused by poorly fitting footwear. Be sure to have shoes made for such activities as hiking and make sure that they fit properly. Moleskin adhesive bandages can also be used to help prevent blisters from occurring. Just put them on susceptible areas like heels and toes beforehand. If blisters do develop, there are special blister bandages that can be put over them to keep them from becoming more irritated, which will help them heal. Ankle Injuries, Sprains, and Strains  It is easy enough to injure an ankle just walking around the grocery store, imagine how much easier it is to do so on rough, desert terrain. The injured person will first want to immobilize the injured area and ice it (in this case one would probably use a cold pack). This will keep swelling down. Next wrap ankle with an elastic roll bandage. Once free and clear of the trail and in the comfort of home, the hiker should elevate the injured area and continue to ice it off and on for approximately 72 hours. It may also help to apply heat using a heat compress or heating pad, to help speed healing. Dehydration  Dehydration is a possibility in any environment, but it can especially become a problem in the desert. Carrying ample water (about a gallon per person) is a great way to stay hydrated. Take a drink every now and then; do not wait for thirst to set in. Early symptoms of dehydration include: thirst, dry skin, skin flushing (turning red), dry mouth, weakness/fatigue, chills, and head rushes or dizziness. If these symptoms are experienced, they should be treated right away. The dehydrated person should be taken to a cool, shady area, and given plenty of water, but they should drink it slowly and in small sips. It is also important to replenish lost electrolytes, so the dehydrated person should be given something like Gatorade in order to do so. Prevention of Injury  The best way to prevent injury while hiking is to exercise caution and be prepared. Having the proper clothing is very important, as well as having plenty of water and, of course, a First Aid kit.

9


Hiking Attire The terrain of the Lower Colorado Valley consists mostly of broad, flat valleys with widely scattered, small mountain ranges of barren rock. Also referred to as a Rocky Plateau Deserts, features of this type of terrain include dense and light rubble with minor undergrowth. Rubble includes rocks and stones. Dense rubble references larger stones in size within a small area. Light rubble indicates smaller rocks making swift and agile movements difficult. Proper Footwear marks the true adventurer. Whether you choose ankle high boots or hiking shoes, either will suffice, there are a few criteria your footwear choice should meet: • Lightweight, mixture of mesh and leather shoe/boot body • Vibram rubber soles marked by the famous yellow octagon • Lengthy shoe laces to double knot the tie •C  omfortable fit with perhaps some room in the toe area. Descending mountainous terrain slides foot forward within the shoe/boot.

High wool blend socks will protect your ankles from prickly desert shrubbery and wick moisture away from your skin. Wool blends also minimize foot odor.

Clothing should be comfortably fitting. Clothing options are dependent upon the time of year heading into the hills. It is likely for mornings to be cool with temperatures increasing as the day wears on. Garment layering of clothing is always the best course of action. Hikers may take off or add a layer of clothing as needed throughout the day. Begin with an undergarment layer that breathes. Polyester microfiber is suited for warm weather while polypropylene is preferable for cool weather. For the active female, athletic camisoles rank high for undergarment tops. Synthetic 10


Getting Started

materials draw moisture away from the skin as you sweat from activity. The moisture in the fabric evaporates away leaving you the hiker comfortably dry. Clothing helps to maintain thermal eqilibrium. The next layer includes a top and bottom. Dependent upon the season of the year, that top and or bottom could be long or short. Fabric should be lightweight if wet, dries quickly. In the case of bottoms, there are ‘tear away’ pants that become shorts by simply unzipping the pant below the knees. To protect skin from damaging rays of the sun, a top should always be worn, but what kind of top is more of a preference of style and comfort. A female hiker may opt a light weight long sleeved button top over a camisole or tank top, another may choose to wear the camisole or tank top alone. The next layer is the outer shell. On brisk mornings, a pullover fleece sweater will beat the chill. Lightweight zipper jackets may serve as windbreakers while keeping the body’s core warm. The best outerwear is both wind proof and water resistant. Headgear should be considered. During warmer days, a brimmed hat or cap serves as personal shade. On cooler days, a skull cap that covers your ears protects your head from the elements. Heat exits the body as sweat from the top of your head.

Extra layers for extremities may be necessary in cold weather. Gloves, scarves and hats add comfort and may be packed away easily when and if the temperature warms.

Sources: http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Desert_Terrain

11


Hiking Gear The Essentials Backpack  One of the most important aspects of a hiking backpack is a comfortable fit. You do not want a backpack that is too large or too small. You also want a pack that can hold enough gear to suit your needs (including food and water). When hiking you have to keep the weather in mind. Despite being in a desert, a waterproof backpack is still encouraged just in case. First-Aid Kit  It is a good idea to be prepared for the unexpected, first-aid kit is a necessity. A personal first aid checklist has been provided on page 8. Water  Water is one of the most important things you can take on a hike, regardless of the weather or time of year. Water can be stored in BPA plastic bottles and stainless steel bottles or Camelbacktm water bladders carried, or you can use filtration system/capsules to purify water you find on your hike. Drinking water from a stream, lake or river may cause sickness, no matter how clean it looks. The amount of water that you should bring with you is discussed on page 14. Food  Food is an absolute must on a hike, whether it is long or short. Eating while on a hike helps you to maintain a decent level of energy. Plus, the extra food will come in handy if the hike lasts longer than expected. It is important to carry healthy and nutritional foos rich in complex carbohydrates and protein. More information concerning food will also be discussed on pages 14-15. Sunscreen/Hat/Sunglasses  These particular items are especially important when hiking in the desert. It is best to carry a sunscreen with an SPF of 15, at the least. A hat serves as extra protection for your face and head. Plus, as elevation increases, so does light intensity so sunglasses might be a nice item to carry as well.

Sources: http://www.hikingbackpack.net/ http://www.outdoorplaces.com/Features/Hiking/Equip/hikequip3.htm http://travelingforever.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=41&Itemid=43 www.outdoorplaces.com/gear/lists/dayhikelist.htm www.backpacking.net/gearlist.html www.vmisublime.tripod.com/id15.html http://www.yart.com.au/pa/page.aspx?ID=46

12


Getting Started

Knife/Multi-Tool  Having a knife or multi-tool can have several benefits. It can aid in opening and repairing things, even first-aid. Pliers ease removal of desert prickly plants. Compass/Whistle  A compass is important when it comes to navigating. Therefore, you should note that a compass will do you no good if you are unfamiliar with how to use it, so it is vital that you learn to properly use your compass before you go hiking. It is also recommended that you carry a whistle (preferably plastic). If you were to become lost or injured, a whistle will help others locate you. Flashlight  The flashlight that you carry should be lightweight, and preferably waterproof. Pack extra batteries, just in case. Matches  You should always bring waterproof matches on your hike, or at the very least, “strikeanywhere“ matches in a waterproof container.

Optional Gear: Camera  It is always nice to record the wonderful memories you will have while hiking! Field Guide  If you are interested in the plant and wildlife that is in the area surrounding your hiking spot, a field guide might be nice have on hand to help with the identification of specimens. Binoculars  Binoculars are not necessary but could be nice for viewing landmarks and wildlife. GPS  A GPS (Global Positioning System) can be useful, but only if you know how to use it! Make sure to read the instructions before setting off on your hike. Insect Repellant/Lip Balm  Bug spray is useful to have, especially at night, and in hot conditions lip balm helps to prevent cracked lips.

“Chance favors the prepared mind.“ -Louis Pasteur

One of the most important things that you should have when going on a hike is a plan. You should know where you are going and be prepared in case of an emergency. Never hike alone, and tell someone where you are going to be. 13


Water & Food Water  Before the hike, participants should eat a generous amount of fruits, vegetables, and drink a large amount of water so as to help prepare the body for the challenging conditions that compose a desert hike. On the trip, hikers should have at least two quarts of water (though a gallon per hiker would be better) and drink 1/2 to 1 cup every 30 to 45 minutes. Even if the hiker does not feel thirsty, he or she should still take a drink every now and then. When a person exerts themselves in a physical activity like hiking, they are losing moisture and need to replenish it. After a hike, participants should drink additional water until they need to use the toilet. Do not chug it, instead, drink about a 1/2 cup every five minutes or so. Electrolye replacement is very important during hiking. Each hiker should carry at least 12oz. of electrolyte replacement fluid, ie. Gatorade, Powerade, for an average day hike. Powdered products can be purchased to add at will to fresh drinking water during the excursion. Your first aid kit should include single packs of powdered electrolyte replacement. A wise option could be to carry a seperate portable water bottle in your backpack specifically as an electrolyte replacement drink. Food  Consuming more calories when outdoors off sets burning off more calories than normal. One day of hiking and eating high-fat food probably will not hinder the hiker’s performance, but it also will not make the hike any more productive. Calories from simple sugars, complex carbohydrates, and fats are useful in different ways to the body. For ongoing energy boosts while hiking, the quickly metabolized carbohydrates are best. Trail mix is one of the best snack foods out there because it is healthy, easy to make, and there are a variety different combinations of ingredients.

14


Getting Started

Trail Mix Recipes Toss and Go Trail Mix Recipe  Combine one quart (or four cups) of cereal with two cups each of a dried fruit and a nut or seed. For example, one quart of Cap’n Crunch Cereal with two cups of walnuts and two cups of apricots. Alternatively, try one quart of Oh’s Cereal with two cups of mixed dried fruit and two cups of sunflower seeds. Toss it all together and take it on the road! Basic Trail Mix Recipe  Combine one quarter cup each of the following ingredients: unsalted peanuts, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried apricots, raisins, chocolate chips, pretzels, Cheerios, Chex, and granola. Feel free to leave out any ingredients that don’t sound good. Mix the ingredients together in a big bowl. Store the mix in an airtight container or eat it immediately. Healthy Trail Mix  Trail mix can be a snack food of good nutritional value if the right ingredients are chosen. This simple recipe relies on a set of truly healthy ingredients. Combine equal parts white raisins, raw almonds, raw sunflower seeds and dried pineapple. Make sure that the pineapple is organic, unsulfured, unsweetened dried pineapple. Mix together completely. Enjoy!

Other Snacks   Tuna and grain crackers are also a good source of carbohydrates. Breads and crackers are a good choice for day hikes. Tuna fish contains high protein and is a good meal with cheese and crackers. In order to keep packs light, instead of purchasing canned tuna, buy tuna in foil pouches. Granola and energy bars are also good snack choices. These treats can be found in any grocery store. They pack a lot of calories in a small bar. Jerky (dried meat) is not a source of carbohydrates, but it is a nice treat on the trail. Do not forget a sturdy zip-lock bag for trash. During hikes, extending through the normal lunch hour, a meal should be packed to supplement the energy snacks mentioned above: convenient lunches include your favorite sandwich with a fruit or a canned food, ie. Spaghetti O’s with a pull top cover. Do not forget your spork..

15


Leave No Trace The basic concept of “Leave No Trace“ is merely the notion of not littering. However, there is far more to this model in terms of responsibility and reward. The following information includes the basic ethics to guide you on your hike, as well as interacting with other hikers. First and foremost, planning ahead for your trip is of extreme importance. You can not be fully prepared to pack all that you need, or to preserve the natural environment while you are hiking unless you plan out your activities and have a good idea of what gear and other items you will need to bring along in order to have a successful and fulfilling experience. The following is a list of subjects to consider and how to deal with them. Food  Package food so that you reduce the amount of waste you will be carrying out. Consider zip type baggies which will reduce the odor of food and lighten pack weight, and always bring an extra bag for trash. Never use burying food as a means of disposal. Animals will dig the food up and can get sick, or even die, after being exposed to our foods. In addition the wildlife’s digging can impact the natural ecosystem. Observe Only  Nature and cultures that have come before us have created an incredible array of items to discover, observe, and wonder over. Touching or moving any items such as plants, rocks, and soil, or introducing these items or animals from elsewhere can harm the equilibrium of the ecosystem as well as extinguish the chance for others to enjoy the same experiences. Like our mothers always said: “Look, but don’t touch.“ Wildlife  Never intentionally feed wild animals, and remain in control of your food and trash at all times. Outside food can make animals sick, change their behaviors, and sometimes kill them. Observing quietly will maintain the purity and sanctity of the animals and habitat you are observing.

16


Getting Started

Traversing  When hiking through your selected area you can even minimize the effect of your footsteps by being aware of where you walk. Whenever possible use existing trails and when a trail is not available try to use durable surfaces to walk on like gravel, rock, or dry vegetation. Waste Disposal  Anything you take into the wilderness you must also take with you when you leave. Also consider removing trash left behind by others. In this way you are removing any negative trace and discontinuing harm done to the environment. Human Waste Disposal  Because some wildlife are attracted to salt, and salt is found in our urine, it is important that hikers relieve themselves in an area that will cause the least amount of damage should an animal be attracted to the salts. Therefore, urinate in clearings or on rocks so that delicate foliage and plant life will not be harmed by any wildlife that may become interested in the future. On the other hand, solid waste should be deposited into a cat hole. Select an area at least 200 feet from any water source and in which you are confident will not easily be discovered by others, and dig a hole 4 to 6 inches in depth and diameter. When finished, fill in the cat hole with the original soil. Please note that toilet paper and any other hygiene products should be taken with you when you leave, so be sure to carry a bag for such items.

These are suggested “leave no trace“ guidelines for hiking. If you decide to camp there are other ethics and models you will need to consider. Doing some research on the area you will be visiting and its current camping guidelines is the best way to assure a positive experience for all involved

Sources: http://www.lnt.org/programs/principles.php http://www.blm.gov/education/lnt/packing/cathole2.htm http://www.outdoor.com/skills/backpacking-skills/leave-no-trace/ http://www.blm.gov/education/lnt/ http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Falls/9200/negative_trace.html http://www.lnt.org/ http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Falls/9200/lnt_dune_hiking.html

17


Muggins Loop Approaching the north saddle

Pagoda Peak

Pagoda Peak 18


Muggins Loop 19

Slot Canyon


Oscar resting on

Flag Mountain

Jessica, Andrehina & Liz on

Flag Mountain

Oscar & Chiu on

Flag Mountain George Montopoli on

Flag Mountain

Class resting on

Flag Mountain

George & Laura on

The Muggins Loop Trail

20


Saguaro on

Signal Peak Trail

Cholla at 21

Castle Dome

Rugged

Laguna Mountains


American Flag waving at summit of Memory Plaque on

Airplane Wreck Trail

Flag Mountain View west

Airplane Wreck Trail

wreckage on

Airplane Wreck Trail

22


Castle Dome

View from 23

Castle Dome Trail


24


Hikes Gila Mountains Airplane Wreck 27 Flag Mountain 35

Kofa Mountains Castle Dome 43 Signal Peak 53

Laguna Mountains Rollercoaster 63

Muggins Mountains Muggins Loop 73 Pagoda Peak 85

Plants & Animals Yuma Area Vegetation Plants 92

Southwestern Desert Fauna Mammals 108 Insects 116 Birds 118 Reptiles & Amphibians 120 25


THE AFFLICTION, WHICH WAS THE

AIRPLANE B-17 CRASH

JUNE of 1944, MARKED ONE OF THE SADDEST DISASTERS THAT OCCURRED IN

IN ARIZONA HISTORY...

26


Gila Mountains

Airplane Wreck Basic Information Distance

2.4 miles

Duration

3 Hours, 30 Minutes

Elevation

Trailhead: 795 ft. Summit: 2,138 ft.

Level of Difficulty

Mild/Moderate

Amenities

Roadways: No Handicap Accessible: No Potable (Drinkable) Water: No Campsites: No Bathrooms: No

Brief History of the Area  Being one of the many places available to hike in Arizona, the “Airplane Wreck“, located in the Gila Mountains, is probably not only recognized by being a great place to hike, but also by a calamity that this place was witness to. The affliction, which was the airplane B-17 crash that occurred in June of 1944, marked one of the saddest disasters in Arizona’s history. This tragedy ended with the lives of five men being lost. These men were in flight training. When returning to the Yuma army air field they hit a peak in the Gila Mountains. The airplane was blown into little pieces by the explosion caused by the sudden crash. Now this place where the crash took place sixty-five years ago serves as a hiking destination to many people in Arizona. However, the death of the five B-17 crewmen -Second Lt. William A. Richell, Second Lt. Sheridan B. Marek, Second Lt. Angus W. MacArthur, Sgt. Manteu P. Jones, and Corp. Merle G. Ice- are always being remembered and respected by everyone that passes by the remaining pieces of the plane that are scattered among the boulders of the Gilas.

27


Airplane Wreck

Maps and Directions  From Yuma, drive east and I-8 and exit on Fortuna Road heading south. Turn east on South Frontage Road; continue driving until South Frontage Road ends. Turn south on South Avenue 15E. Continue on the road past the golf course on the left and right, until the “No Trespassing“ signs stop. Make a left as soon as possible and drive east along the primary 4-wheel drive dirt road that eventually travels along a ridge toward Flag Mountain. Before arriving at the Flag Mountain trailhead (about ¼ mile from it), turn left (north) and eventually west along an auxiliary dirt road. You must circle around the prominent south ridge of Airplane Wreck Mountain to get to the trailhead. We advise scouting out the access beforehand, as it is quite involved. Access in the past was much simpler prior to the creation of the golf course and private landowners that closed access to the trailhead (there is a direct access road to the trailhead through the golf course if permission is obtained).

28


Gila Mountains

Risks & Dangers  The trail can be hazardous due to its many loose rocks. Therefore, people need to be extra careful and watch where they step when hiking. There are also pieces and parts of the fallen B-17 strewn everywhere. Some of the said pieces are sharp and knifelike and can be extremely dangerous so it is wise for the hiker to be alert and cautious.

29


Airplane Wreck Photo Guide

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

30


Airplane Wreck trailhead 795 ft summit 2,138 ft

1.

More wreckage pieces

4.

Looking northwest

31

2.

Memory plaque

5.

Looking west. foothills developments present

3.

Cross

6.

Flag waving at the rocky peak


32


Gila Mountains Airplane Wreck

Personal Accounts “Hiking the ‘Airplane Wreck’ Gila Mountains was a great experience which we will never forget. We have to admit that it was a bit challenging, but not impossible. Sometimes there were little loose rocks that made our walking a little insecure but it was fun trying to avoid them while getting to our goal, the highest peak of the mountain. Having reached the top we felt like everyone else, extremely joyful for having achieved our goal. Even though getting up was a little risky, getting down was much more challenging.“

–Jessica & Andrehina

“Well, the hike was not that long, but it was a little hard. However, I really liked it. I enjoyed viewing the pieces of the airplane that were in our path. It got me interested in finding the history of this place. I totally recommend bringing a jacket if you are planning to hike this place in November, trust me you will need it.“

Sources Beitler, Stu. “Yuma, AZ (near) Bomber Crash, June 1944.“ 16 Nov. 2009. 22 Nov. 2009. http://www3.gendisasters.com/arizona/14133/yuma-az-near-bomber-crash-june-1944. “Gila Mountain B-17 Training Mission Waymark.“ 26 Nov. 2005. 22 Nov. 2009. http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM45F_Gila_Mountain_B_17_Training_Missio.

33

–Oscar Cabrera


THE GILA MOUNTAINS IS A MOUNTAIN RANGE IN YUMA COUNTY

RUNNING NORTHWEST-SOUTHEAST FOR ABOUT 26 MILES.

34


Gila Mountains

Flag Mountain Basic Information Distance

2.8 miles

Duration

4 Hours

Elevation

Trailhead: 742 ft. Summit: 1,901 ft.

Level of Difficulty

Mild/Moderate

Amenities

Roadways: No (need vehicle with high clearance) Handicap Accessible: No Potable (Drinkable) Water: No Campsites: No Bathrooms: No

Brief History of the Area  The Gila Mountains is a mountain range in Yuma County running northwest-southeast for about 26 miles. This fault-blocked mountain system connects with the Tinajas Altas Mountains to the south and border northwest with the Laguna Mountains of Arizona. The mighty Gila River flows between the Gila and Laguna Mountains before joining the Colorado River approximately 6 miles to the west. To the northeast of the Gila Mountains lies the low-elevation basin, Dome Valley, tucked snugly between the Muggins Mountains and Muggins Wilderness to the northeast. The highest point of the rugged Gila Mountains is Sheep Peak at 3,156 feet. Access to the trailhead for this difficult hike is from the east of the Gila Mountains through the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range (BMGR). Range permits are necessary to enter BMGR and are free of charge through the Marine Corps Air Station. Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gila_Mountains_%28Yuma_County%29 http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/9010038 http://www.worldlingo.com/ma/enwiki/en/Gila_Mountains

35


Flag Mountain

Maps and Directions  From Yuma, drive east on I-8 and exit on Fortuna Road heading south. Turn east on South Frontage Road; continue driving until South Frontage Road ends. Turn south on South Avenue 15E. Continue on the road past the golf course on the left and right, until the “No Trespassing“ signs stop. Make a left as soon as possible and drive east along the primary 4-wheel drive dirt road that eventually travels along a ridge toward Flag Mountain. The trailhead is located at the base of a long prominent NNW ridge that descends from the summit of Flag Mountain. A plywood (mostly empty) information billboard is located at the trailhead.

36


Gila Mountains

Risks & Dangers  The trail can be hazardous due to its many loose rocks. Therefore, people need to be extra careful and watch where they step when hiking.

Sources Beitler, Stu. “Yuma, AZ (near) Bomber Crash, June 1944.“16 Nov. 2009. 22 Nov. 2009 http://www3.gendisasters.com/arizona/14133/yuma-az-near-bomber-crash-june-1944 “Gila Mountain B-17 Training Mission Waymark.“ 26 Nov. 2005. 22 Nov. 2009. http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM45F_Gila_Mountain_B_17_Training_Missio http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gila_Mountains_%28Yuma_County%29 http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/9010038 http://www.worldlingo.com/ma/enwiki/en/Gila_Mountains

37


Flag Mountain Photo Guide

38


1.

From the very beginning, this hike is a thigh buster. well paved trail.

2.

Trail zigzags the mountainside, switchbacks

5.

Path swings to the westside of the gilas. during a morning hike, this provides respite shade. 8.

Looking east into a wash

39

Flag Mountain trailhead 742 ft summit 1,901 ft

3.

Looking back from whence we came. truck parked at trailhead.

6.

Resting in the shade before the trail vears east into the morning sun

9.

Starting to feel the burn in your legs and lungs

4.

Group heading up at a switchback

7.

Group exposed on the eastside of the mountain. This section is called the traverse.

10.

Path swings back to the westside of mountain.


Flag Mountain

Personal Accounts “BLM, Bureau of Land Management, maintains this trail as noted by the information billboard at the trailhead parking area. The trail is well defined and wide enough for single file ascents and descents. Let me share two of my most memorable memories from this hike. First of all, following a beautiful traverse on the east side of the Gilas, the trail is blocked with a deliberate wall of stones. Although the trail carries on beyond that point and around the bend. (On a previous adventure in this area, I scouted the path beyond. It lead to a sheer cliff to the wash to the east and scrambling up crags to the west.) If you look closely, the wall of stones also forms an arrow indicating to veer right. This is my favorite part of the trail. We ascend quickly scrambling up and around boulders. Near the top of this portion, the exposure factor is high. Hiking down this portion is slow going. Most students butt scooted the hairy areas not trusting their feet.

40


Gila Mountains

Secondly, near the final push to the summit on the west side of the mountain is a series of switchbacks. I counted about three separate trails all intersecting each other in various places. None of the paths were particularly safe. I slipped several times on sloped and eroded sections with slippery light rubble as footing. During this section I crawled at times always making sure my handholds were solid before bearing weight upon them. This portion is do-able but I believe this section needs immediate attention to ensure hikers continued safety. “

–Liz

41


THE YUMA COUNTY WAS ORIGINALLY CALLED

CASTLE DOME COUNTY AND THE

OF YUMA CITY WAS ALMOST NAMED

“CASTLE DOME“

42


Castle Dome Mountains

Castle Dome Basic Information Distance

6.2 miles

Duration

6 Hours

Elevation

Trailhead 1701 ft. Summit 3,788 ft.

Level of Difficulty

Extremely Advanced

Amenities

Roadways: Unpaved (need vehicle with high clearance) Handicap Accessible: No Potable (Drinkable) Water: No Campsites: No pre-set campsites; however, camping is possible at a natural rock lodge and the plateau. Bathrooms: At the Mining Museum. However; on the trail itself you will need to use cat holes.

Brief History of the Area  The geology of Castle Dome contains interesting rock formations abound, and yellow and white lichen can be seen covering some of the rock. The top most part of the mountain is rock, most of it razor sharp. These outcroppings range from granite to diorite porphyry and rhyolite porphyry. The largest makeup of the mountain is volcanic in nature and includes obsidian, basalt, rhyolite, andesite; in addition to this, and what makes the hike most scenic is the limestone, shale, sandstone, and quartzite which range from deep maroon, sea-mist green, grey, and purple. The rich geology of the area contributed to the silver and lead mining that has been done in the area for centuries.

43


Castle Dome Mountains

  First mined by local Native Americans previous to 1860, the Kofa Mountains where Castle Dome resides was mined through the later 1800’s by the N. Gunther & Co.; The Castle Dome Mining & Smelting Co. Mining for the most part ended in this area in 1880. The mining camp and town that lay shadowed in the mountain was called Castle Dome and now in the town’s place is the Castle Dome Mining Museum and ghost town replicated structures.   In 1993, the entire Lord our righteousness Church, a splinter group of the Seventh Day Adventists, camped at Castle Dome for the winter rather than suffer the cold in Sandpoint, ID where they had a permanent residence. Some years later Wayne Curtis Bent, later known as Michael Travesser, minister, was investigated separately by the FBI and New Mexico State Police as a cult taking part in ritualistic statutory rape of young girls.   Yuma County was originally called Castle Dome County and the city of Yuma was almost named Castle Dome because at the time the mining camp was larger than the nearby city of Yuma. Though some saw the resemblance to a castle in the shape of the mountain, early Spanish explorers saw the likeness of a giant’s head and therefore called the peak: Cabeza de Gigante.

44


45


Maps and Directions  From Yuma take Hwy 95 North to right on Castle Dome Mine Rd and drive North to the Mining Museum, about 10 miles. Castle Dome will be in front of you and will contour around the foothills to the North West side. Drive until you see two red markers with a parking sign on your left at the edge of a wash. There is ample parking in the wash. Hike through the main wash until you come to a cairn shaped as an arrow. Turn right, following the arrow, and make an almost immediate left to follow the ridge and trail. Once over the ridge, the hike starts off rather easy but then becomes a step scramble up the rocks to the slope below Castle Dome. You gain elevation rather quickly.

46


Castle Dome Mountains

Risks & Dangers  Described as the most difficult and dangerous hike in the Yuma Area. Beware also that there is a large amount of Ocotillo and Cholla Cacti. Susanna Henry, assistant manager of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge said, in a 2007 interview with the Yuma Sun, that “the thing that makes [Castle Dome] difficult is there’s a lot of loose rocks,“ and continued by saying that the mountain is “not ideal for climbing at all.“

47


Castle Dome

1.

Photo Guide

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

48


1.

The hike begins in a wide wash leading to Castle Dome

2.

There was a huge arrow made with rocks pointing to the trail out of the wash 5.

Views of the area as we gain elevation

8.

View on the way down

49

Castle Dome trailhead 1,701 ft summit 3,788 ft

3.

Trail meanders to the sheer castle dome mountains

6.

View from the summit

9.

Winding through ocotillo boulder fields

4.

Trail skirts along the base of the mountain heading east. turn south and head upward.

7.

View from the summit looking from whence we came

10.

Last look back


Personal Accounts One of the more experienced hikers remarked that he would never climb Castle Dome again. He had climbed this difficult peak two years ago, when he was beginning hiking, and therefore, thought the difficulty had been his lack of experience. However, after completing this hike again as a more skilled hiker, he expressed that he would never climb this peak again, as the descent is dangerous, strenuous, and grueling.

– Experienced Hiker “Had I known the climb was so dangerous I would have been less inclined to proceed past the ridge point at the midpoint of the mountain. The scenery was beautiful but, I was unable to appreciate my surroundings, especially on descent, because safety was such an issue. Overall, I like having the bragging rights that I climbed this mountain; but, I would have preferred to know the danger level ahead of time so that I could have better prepared myself, for example: eating a larger, carbohydrate filled meal the night before and using relaxation therapy to prepare my mind. I do not believe I will hike Castle Dome again.“

– Anonymous

50


Sources Cafesda.blogspot.com. http://cafesda.blogspot.com/2008/05/adventist-offshoot-makes-news.html Climer.org. http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.climber.org/DrivingDirections/images/KofaCastle.jpg&imgrefurl=http://climber.org DrivingDirections/KofaPeaks.html&usg=__VLjDjh55cENeYQEMqzT9q8mNsXA=&h=834&w=787&sz=219&hl=en&start=26&sig2=ZxDdDMrpYGqps9 NJmiSZw&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=X2KZ2hgL6hI1oM:&tbnh=144&tbnw=136&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dcastle%2Bdome%2Btopographical%2Bmap%2 ndsp%3D18%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1T4PCTA_enUS330US330%26sa%3DN%26start%3D18%26um%3D1&ei=APcfS7yUGILUsQOhva2WCg Jeff.scott.tripod.com. http://jeff.scott.tripod.com/yumaco.html Mindat.org. http://www.mindat.org/loc-31626.html Wikipedia.org. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Dome_Landing,_Arizona Wikipedia.org. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Dome_Mountains Yumasun.com. http://www.yumasun.com/news/dome-32912-castle-henry.html

51


THE HIGHEST ELEVATION OF THE

KOFA MOUNTAINS 52


Kofa Mountains

Signal Peak Basic Information Distance

4.2 miles

Duration

4 Hours

Elevation

Trailhead 2805 ft. Summit 4882 ft.

Level of Difficulty

Difficult hike. Very steep hike rock scrambling

Amenities

Roadways: Unpaved (need vehicle with high clearance) Handicap Accessible: No Potable (Drinkable) Water: No Campsites: No Bathrooms: No

Brief History of the Area  The Kofa Mountains are a northwest-southeast range with three notable peaks: Signal Peak at 4,877 feet, Squaw Peak at 4,416 feet and Polaris Mountain at 3,624 feet. These rugged volcanic mountains date back 65 million to 1.8 million years ago. Although not very high in elevation, this range rises sharply from the surrounding basin. Explorers traveled through the Kofa Mountains in southwest Arizona for gold, silver and minerals. The Kofa Mountains are named after the King OF Arizona gold mine discovered in King Valley in 1896. The mine used to stamp its property “K of A,“ and was commonly referred to as the Kofa Mine. The mine and the surrounding areas are now private property.

For non U.S. Citizens or permanent residents: in order to save time and prevent possible inconvenience, make sure to have the respective documentation that demonstrate your legal status in the United States. There is a Border Patrol control station enroute. 53


Kofa Mountains

A little known factoid about this area: most of the lead for World War II bullets were mined here. The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Kofa NWR, was established in 1939 and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge covers 665,400 acres of desert including Castle Dome Mountains to the south, the Tank Mountains to the southeast, the Kofa Mountains are centrally located and the New Water Mountains to the north. In 1990, about 82 percent of the Kofa NWR was declared wilderness. Wilderness areas are defined as “...an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain...“ (Public Law 88-577 (16 U.S. C. 1131-1136) The overarching goal of this status is to protect federal lands from from development and maintain its natural, wilderness character.

Sources Peter Massey & Jeanne Wilson, 2006, Backcountry Adventures Arizona, Adler Publishing http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/arizona/kofa/index.html http://www.surgent.net/highpoints/az/yuma.html

54


55


Signal Peak

Maps and Directions  From Yuma, take Hwy 95 north. Turn right, east, onto Palm Canyon Road. Drive east 3.2 miles to Kofa Queen Canyon (KQC) Road on the left heading north. Continue on KQC heading northeast into the canyon about 7.5 miles.The trailhead is at the mouth of Ten Ewe canyon on your right. A high clearance, 4x4 wheeled vehicle is essential to navigate the KQC road.

Pace yourself. Steep sections knock the wind right out of you. Take breaks as needed in safe and secure areas. There are two natural rest spots to look forward to: the top of Ten Ewe Canyon and the summit. As with Yuma desert environments, natural water sources are scarce and prickly plants are prevalent. Pack gear accordingly. 56


Kofa Mountains

Risks & Dangers  Route finding skills are necessary to find sections of the developed trail marked with cairns. Portions of the hike are extremely steep. Due to natural erosion and increased use of the trail, sections are covered by light rubble that slip and slide under your feet. Be ready to scramble along rocky sloped faces and crawl up steep switchbacks laden with tiny rocks that make for difficult standing.

57


Signal Peak

1.

Photo Guide

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

58


1.

Parking area looking into Ten Ewe Canyon. Developed trail is to the left of the dry waterfall 2.

Follow the wash from the trailhead into the canyon

5.

First natural landing to stop for a rest

8.

Second natural landing. Another break

59

Signal Peak trailhead 2,805 ft summit 4,882 ft

3.

Out of wash meandering deeper into canyon. rise begins with a gentle slope.

6.

Trail leads up the canyon along the left side of gulley toward the pointy rock above.

9.

Heading up, again

4.

Looking back toward trailhead. cairned trail begins in this area

7.

Meandering with rocky landmark/dry waterfall on the right

10. Trail follows from the bottom left corner of this photo & moves diagonally up & to the right. 2/3 the way up turn right into the draw leading to the summit


Signal Peak

11.

Photo Guide

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

60


11.

View from the draw after the turn

Signal Peak trailhead 2,805 ft summit 4,882 ft

12.

Last landing before final push to summit

15.

Don’t forget to sign in

61

13.

Communication tower seen before last push

16.

On the ride back, stop by the “stone head“

14.

View from top looking south

17.

View from the top looking at the road we travelled to the trailhead


THE LAGUNA

MOUNTAIN RANGE SITS AT

THE CONVERGENCE OF THE GILA & COLORADO RIVERS ABOUT 6 MILES SOUTHEAST OF

THE CITY OF YUMA. 62


Laguna Mountains

Rollercoaster Basic Information Distance

4.3 miles

Duration

3 Hours, 30 Minutes

Elevation

Trailhead 254 ft. Summit 703 ft.

Level of Difficulty

Mild/Moderate

Amenities

Roadways: No Handicap Accessible: No Potable (Drinkable) Water: No Campsites: No Bathrooms: No

Brief History of the Area  Rollercoaster, aptly named due to its series of ups and downs, is the perfect hike for any beginner, as well as those veterans out there. For the beginner, climbing the hills provides a challenge without pushing the hiker past their limits. And for the more experienced, Rollercoaster is a great hike for keeping your body in peak condition. The entire hike is about 5 to 7 miles, but completely doable. Once you are out there and are taking in the beauty of the wilderness around you, length simply does not matter.   The Laguna Mountain range sits at the convergence of the Gila and Colorado rivers about 6 miles southeast of the city of Yuma. Unfortunately, the Laguna Mountains are extremely under represented. Yet, despite there being little information, the history of the area is rather interesting. Prior to being given the name Laguna, the range was called the San Pablo Mountains. Here is an interesting tidbit of information: in 1780, on the other side of the Colorado river from the range, a Spanish mission by the name of San Pedro Y San Pablo de Becuñer was established. Surrounding this mission was gold. The Laguna area is rich in mining history. Mining started in the 1700s and continued through 1940. Suprisingly, the Lagunas have produced nuggets up to the size of 63


Rollercoaster

2 ounces! The Laguna District, which includes the Laguna Dam, at the south end of the Laguna mountains (though it was inactive from 1941 to 1959) produced approximately 10,500 ounces of gold up through that time, just to give a rough idea as to the importance mining played in the Laguna area.   Arizona is divided into three regions: the Colorado Plateau, the Central Highlands Province, and the Basin and Range Province. The Laguna Mountains are located in the Basin and Range Province. Arizona, including the Laguna area, has a rich cultural history, and the geological history to match. In order to appreciate the upcoming explanations, there are certain vocabulary terms that must be understood: Mesozoic  Belonging to or dating from an era of geologic time 250 to 65 million years ago, between the Permian and Tertiary eras, when dinosaurs, birds, and flowering plants first appeared. Tertiary  The first period of the Cenozoic era during which mammals became dominant and modern plants evolved, 65 million to 1.6 million years ago. Quaternary  Belonging to or dating from the most recent geologic period, spanning the last 2 million years. Conglomerate  Rocks that consist of pieces of multiple types of rocks. Andesite  A fine-grained grayish volcanic rock characterized by feldspar minerals   The Laguna range consists mainly of schist (which make up the eastern portion of the range) and gneiss (makes up the western portion) from the Mesozoic era, but there are also some Quaternary-Tertiary elements mixed in as well. These components include sands, silts, gravels, and conglomerates. Near Sugarloaf Peak, which is located on the western end of the Lagunas, there is a rather small area of Cretaceous andesite, which is igneous rock. This is said to be the only area where it exists in such manner throughout the Lagunas.

64


65


Rollercoaster

Maps and Directions  From the AWC campus, drive north to US Hwy 95 and turn left (west). Drive 1 mile and turn right (north) onto Laguna Dam road. Drive about 4 miles and turn right (east) onto E. County 5th Street. Drive about 2 miles, and after driving over the bridge that spans the Gila Valley Main Canal, take a left (north) onto the dirt road that runs along the canal (on the east side of the canal). After 1 mile of driving north on the canal road, it circles to the east at a wash inlet. Continue east on the dirt road that runs above the wash on its south rim for about ½ mile. Stop and park at a large parking area 200 yards to the southwest of a power line tower (do not ascend the small hill to its base). The hike returns along this road. Driving time is about 20 minutes.

This area contains a myriad of hiking, bike, jeep, and ATV trails. We describe one of our favorites (Roller Coaster trail) named for several up-and-down sections. We have hiked 50 to 100 variations of this trail and others in the area.

66


Laguna Mountains

Risks & Dangers  Rollercoaster is among the most basic of desert hikes, but that does not mean that it is without risk. The hiker should be mindful and remember that the desert is home to dangerous wildlife such as scorpions and venomous snakes. Also, because of the rocky terrain, it is easy to find unsure footing and thus, twist an ankle or fall. Therefore the hiker should always maintain a decent amount of focus while enjoying the hiking experience.

67


Rollercoaster

1.

Photo Guide

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

68


1.

Well developed trail along a rocky moonscape

2.

Walking the ridgeline

5.

View from the top looking NW. jeep trail cuts the ridgeline

8.

Looking SE. gila mountains on the far right.

69

Rollercoaster trailhead 254 ft summit 703 ft

3.

Summit pic. halfway there

6.

View from the top looking NW. sugarloaf in the distance

9.

Ridge hopping

4.

View from the top. castle dome in the distance.

7.

View from the top looking SSE

10.

Nose over toes as you descend toward the rollercoaster


70


Laguna Mountains

Personal Accounts “Going to the Laguna Mountains was worthy of my time! It was my first time hiking, indeed it was quite the adventure. The part I enjoyed the most was challenging my physical and mental abilities, I definitely recommend this activity.“

– George Yanez

“‘Rollercoaster’ was only my third hike, but it was probably the easiest of the three. If you are a beginning hiker just trying to get a feel for the activity, I highly recommend the ‘Rollercoaster’ hike. There is no climbing or scrambling involved, so you get an authentic desert hiking experience without overexerting yourself. This hike is great for beginners and for avid hikers alike.“

– Tiffany Mullennix

71


IT IS SAID TO HAVE BEEN DEVELOPED HISTORICALLY BY

VOLCANIC

ERUPTIONS

THAT OCCURRED ABOUT 4 MILLION YEARS AGO.

72


Muggins Mountains (Wilderness Area)

Muggins Loop Basic Information Distance

5 miles

Duration

4 Hours

Elevation

Trailhead 392 ft. Northsaddle 758 ft. South Saddle 700 ft.

Level of Difficulty

Intermediate

Amenities

Roadways: Definitely Need 4-wheel drive to drive down large wash, located 1/4 mile along with passing the border sign of Muggins Mountains Wilderness Area. This access is by high clearance only Handicap Accessible: No Potable (Drinkable) Water: No Campsites: No Bathrooms: No

Brief History of the Area  Along the Muggins Loop there is a variety of colorful “geologic strata“ similar in areas to the California border. The highest summits are Muggins Peak, Klothos Temple, and Long Mountain. The views from Muggins include irrigated fields that continue to the southwest regions, rocky slopes, color against the desert’s russet hues, and at times the trail contains steep, rocky slopes. Also, this trail has deeply cut drainages near the Twins Tanks Wash and Long Mountain Wash which dissects between them. It is said to have been developed historically by volcanic eruptions that occurred about 4 million years ago. Thus, making the “light-colored rhyolite (similar to granite rock),“ sharp-like peaks, and edges.

73


Muggins Mountains (Wilderness Area)

  Between 1952 and 1981 this planning area was withdrawn for Yuma Proving Ground military use. This public land became a “wilderness“ through the U.S. Congress legislation process and public law, which started near 1990 and finally enveloped it’s 8,855 acres. The Wilderness Act of 1964 states: “secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.“ The Muggins Mountains Wilderness forms part of the 109 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System and was named Muggins after a prospector’s burro.   While traversing this area you will find informational borders posted at the beginning of Muggins Wash, known as the “nonwilderness corridor,“ and signs posted on brass caps from the National Wilderness Preservation System; as well as carsonite signs used to mark the wild perimeter.

74


75


Muggins Loop

Maps and Directions  From Yuma, east on I-8 to the Ligurta exit. Then continue east to Dome Valley Road to County 7th Street and turn east. Proceed going east on 7th Street and pass the Dome Valley Transfer Station. This gives an entrance way onto the Muggins Wash stem. This is 1 ½ miles north of the Gila River preceding the Dome Valley exit, which is the northern boundary adjacent to the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground (YPG). Continue to the trail head marked by the deep wash.

76


Muggins Mountains (Wilderness Area)

Risks & Dangers  This is an intermediate hike made “moderately difficult“ because of the 5 mile loop. Basic route-finding skills are required.

77


Muggins Loop

1.

Photo Guide

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

78


1.

Parking Area

Muggins Loop trailhead 392 ft north saddle 758 ft south saddle 700 ft

2.

Following the wash

5.

Close up of muggins peaks

8.

A bit of climbing

79

3.

Initial wash heads directly for the muggins peaks

6.

Magical slot canyon

9.

Winter hike sports pools of water in the wash after recent rainfall

4.

Follow the wash leading left to circle muggins mountains clockwise

7.

Winter hike at the slot canyon

10.

Lovely saguaro along the path


Muggins Loop

11.

Photo Guide

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

20.

80


11.

Traversing behind muggin peaks

Muggins Loop trailhead 392 ft north saddle 758 ft south saddle 700 ft

12.

Approaching southern pass

15.

Follow trail from southern pass back into the wash. last portion narrow & steep.

18.

View of wash and trail leading out of wash after southern pass

81

13.

View west at the southern pass

16.

Explore a cave

19.

Rest in the shade whenever possible

14.

Looking back at muggins peaks after desending from southern pass

17.

Take trail left up and out of wash

20.

Before heading down & to the left toward the initial wash.


Muggins Loop

Personal Accounts “Hiking Muggins Loop was such a great experience. The Wash was especially beautiful in the early morning and it seemed like a totally different desert than the desert we drive by every day. One of the best things was getting the opportunity to talk to fellow Honors students, as well as other AWC students enrolled in the hiking class, during the hike. At school, our first and foremost priority is our classes and school, but being outside for that five miles allowed us to clear our heads and enjoy each other’s company. It even made this “moderately difficult“ hike seem easy and the time seemed to fly by because I enjoyed being outside on the hike, talking to people who also liked being there.“

– Kasey “Having the opportunity to hike near the Muggins Mountains Wilderness “Muggins Loop“ was definitely a great experience to undertake. Hiking in general as well is very stress relieving for me; therefore, it was a chance for me to separate from the world of academics and pressure and intertwine with nature in a more personal level. Being able to visualize the sunrise right before my eyes was such a great experience because it brought a whole new meaning to our hike and means to continue. In addition, we also found a cave that contained animal droppings and this was very interesting to go inside and peek. 82


Muggins Mountains (Wilderness Area)

Additionally, having the chance to see the enormous amount of vegetation that was throughout our whole trail was amazing. I certainly did take a picture of every different plant. Furthermore, I took other photographs of rock colorings, rock formations, slopes, animal droppings, human activity, and land markings. For my part, I above all took please in observing the stunning rock formations and was amazed how the incline and declines on various slopes lead us back to our starting point. Everything was appealing to me; even with the mental and physical challenges that arose with hiking were all positive to encounter. The reason being is that once I accomplish a mere activity such as this, I feel personally unstoppable and reenergized to take on new feats. Hiking has absolutely has given me a new perspective about myself, which is that everything is possible with faith, confidence, and practice. I also enjoyed the fact of having classmates for that extra support and bonding especially when something seems never ending. However, there were also times in which I would confide in myself to find inner-peace and tranquility. I reached this goal by taking deep and plentiful breaths throughout the hike, which unraveled my stress. I would positively say “yes“ to going on this hike and others fun because it captures your attention away from the craziness of the world and brings you to enjoy nature.“

– George

83


PRIOR TO 1942, RECORDS INDICATE 2,748 OUNCES OF PLACER GOLD WERE DOCUMENTED. 84


Muggins Mountains (Wilderness Area)

Pagoda Peak Basic Information Distance

5.5 miles

Duration

6 Hours

Elevation

Trailhead 350 ft. Summit 1,666 ft.

Level of Difficulty

Difficult

Amenities

Roadways: Definitely Need 4-wheel drive to drive down large wash, located 1/4 mile along with passing the border sign of Muggins Mountains Wilderness Area. This access is by high clearance only Handicap Accessible: No Potable (Drinkable) Water: No Campsites: No Bathrooms: No

Brief History of the Area  The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (PL 94-579) requires the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Bureau of Mines to conduct mineral surveys on certain areas to determine the mineral values, if any, that may be present. In 1987, the Bureau of Mines, United States Department of the Interior conducted a mineral resources study within the Muggins Wilderness Area (AZ-050-053A). The study area, 14,455 acres, was within the Muggins mining district. Prior to 1942, records indicate 2,748 ounces of placer gold documented. For thousands of years, mineralized quartz veins and exposed are bodies have weathered out and formed eluvial, hillside, and alluvial, stream, deposits. Many of the drainages surrounding gold mines contain deposits of placer, pronounced - plas-er, not pley-ser, gold due to the weight of gold being 19 times heavier than water. Large gold particles do not tend to move very far from the sources. Due to gravity, placer gold tends to sink within the other rocks. Over time, erosion occurs breaking the gold into smaller pieces naturally distributing amongst the earth. Man mines placer gold because of the ease with which it can be recovered. In modern times, the recreational treasure hunter utilizes new technology to find placer gold. The most popular tool is a metal detector.The results of the mineral resources study within the Muggins Wilderness Area of 1987 indicated gold distributions. Placer gold was found in four drainages but in low volume. Commercial mining would not be wise. 85


Pagoda Peak

Maps and Directions  From Yuma, access Interstate 8 and travel east toward Tucson. After going over Telegraph Pass, take the first exit (Lagurta/Dome Valley). Merge onto the frontage road running north of Interstate 8, drive through Lagurta (which has a great café), and turn left (north) onto the Dome Valley Road (S. Ave 20E). After about 4 miles, turn right (east) at the stop sign onto E. County 7th St. After about a mile the pavement ends. Continue following the dirt road past the Muggins Peak Wilderness Area Information Board for about ½ mile to its end (start of the Trailhead)

As with Yuma desert environments, natural water sources are scarce and prickly plants are prevalent. Pack gear accordingly. 86


Muggins Mountains (Wilderness Area)

Risks & Dangers  Route finding skills are necessary to find sections of the developed trail marked with cairns. Portions of the hike are extremely steep. Due to natural erosion and increased use of the trail, sections are covered by light rubble that slip and slide under your feet. Be ready to scramble along rocky sloped faces and crawl up steep switchbacks laden with tiny rocks that make for difficult standing. Once the ridge-hopping portion of the hike commences, little foliage/trees serve as shade. Take restful moments amongst rock formations creating tidbits of shade depending upon the angle of the sun during that particular time of the day. Be mindful that other creatures may seek the same respite as you in shaded areas.

87


Pagoda Peak

Personal Accounts We hiked Pagoda Peak Sunday, November 8, 2009. It was an unseasonably hot day in the desert southwest with temps approaching 90 degrees by afternoon. On average, the high during this time of the year is within the upper 70s. The increased temps coupled with the extreme exposure factor along the rocky ridges depleted our group water sources on the descent. The group gathered under a shady mesquite tree in the valley marked by the pointed rock formation. I was the only person with water left. My camelback was passed around until not a drop was left. 20 minutes later, the group reached the trailhead where a 5 gallon jug of chilled water awaited all. I remember hikers tanking water from their water bottles. One hiker ended up throwing up the water recently gulped. In situations like these, it is best to sip not gulp water that is chilled but not entirely cold. Seek shade, lower your core temperature slowly.

– anonymous hiker

Sources Wood, Robert H. 1988. Mineral Resources of a Part of the Muggins Mountains Wilderness Study Area (AZ-050-053A), Yuma County, Arizona. Bureau of Mines, United States Department of the Interior. http://www.goldplacer.com/placer-gold/ http://www.nuggethunting.com/

88


89


Pagoda Peak

1.

Photo Guide

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

90


1.

Sandy wash

Pagoda Peak trailhead 350 ft summit 1,666 ft

2.

3.

Heading west on a mesa

5.

Enter another wash heading north. wash becomes a slot canyon

6.

8.

9.

Portions of ascent include moderate climbing, scrambling on rocks

Exit slot by scrambling on slippery stone

7.

Rock formation at top of photo

Follow wash west toward landmark rock formation

91

4.

Proceed up the valley marked by the rock formation

10.

Portions of trail frankly lead upward

Trail takes the hiker to a ridge. the trail ridge hops next


The Yuma Area Vegetation

Plants The arid Southwest Sonora Desert might seem as if it is an ecosystem of death. However, you will be surprised to discover through your hiking experience just how much vegetation that the Yuma County area is host to. This brief compilation is designed to provide you with some general information about the plants, their uses, and even their possible toxicity. This knowledge will allow you to make your hiking experience more than a simple matter of walking. Instead it will be a learning experience that engages the hiker and connects them with the natural world that surrounds them.

Barrel Cactus Scientific Name  Ferocactus Wislizeni Common Names  Fishhook Barrel Cactus, Arizona Barrel Cactus, Candy Barrel Cactus, Southwestern Barrel Cactus, Compass Barrel Cactus Height  Usually grows roughly 2 feet in diameter and 3-6 feet high. Some barrel cacti have been recorded to be as wide as 3 feet, and as tall as 10 feet. Toxicity and Uses  Mules, deer, birds, and javelina eat the fruit; birds enjoy the seeds as well. The fruit has been used by the people of the Sonoran Desert for candy and jelly. The Seri natives eat the flowers, and the O’odham use the fruit as emergency fruit. It is also believed that the cactus is a source for water if someone is lost without any, but it contains an acid that may cause diarrhea if ingested on an empty stomach. Other Information  The fishhook barrel cactus is a cylindrical barrel shaped cactus native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. More specifically, southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, El Paso County, Texas and northern Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico. It tends to grow in gravelly or sandy soil, between 100-5300 feet above sea level. Its flowers are yellow to redorange and they bloom on top of the cactus fruit during the summer months. These cacti generally lean towards the south, towards the sun, which is where the compass reference comes from. The average life cycle for a barrel cactus is 50-100 years. 92


93

Barrel Cactus


The Yuma Area Vegetation

Blue Palo Verde Scientific Name  Cercidium Floridum Common Name  Paloverde Height  39 feet Use and Toxicity  In Arizona, the Pima and Papago tribes cook young blue paloverde fruits and seeds. They also grounded the seeds for porridge. In addition, the Pima tribe members carve blue paloverde into large serving spoons. Other Information  The blue paloverde is distinguished from the foothills paloverde because it is larger, presents fewer leaflets, and has all yellow flower petals with small red spots. It is also accompanied by seed pods which are slightly larger and flatter and have harder shells than Foothills Paloverde. This paloverde species has a bluer cast that its foothills counterpart and it is more restricted to plains margins of dry washes. The blue paloverde is the state tree of Arizona

Brittlebush Scientific Name  Encelia Farinose Common Names  Brittlebush, Goldenhills, Incienso, Height  2-5 feet tall Toxicity and uses  Native American tribes would chew the branches of the brittlebush and burn the plant as incense. Other Information  The encilia farinose is a rounded leafy bush that is a member of the sunflower family. It has long, ovate, silver-gray leaves that are 1 to 4 inches long, and bright yellow flowers about 2-3 inches wide that bloom from March to June. Each flower has between 8-18 pedals and the brittle, woody branches contain a fragrant resin. The brittlebush is usually located on the dry slopes and desert washes of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of southeastern California, across Nevada to southwestern Utah, western Arizona and northwestern Mexico.

94


Plants

Catclaw Scientific Name  Acacia Greggii Common Names  Devil’s Claw, Algarroba, Uña de Gato, Gatuño, Tesota, Tepame Height  33 feet Use and Toxicity  A. greggii beans were gathered and eaten by desert tribes of North America, including the Chemehuevi of the Southern Paiute, and stems were used in construction and tool making. No toxicity has been associated to this plant. Other Information  This plant is a large tree or shrub and is abundant in washes at lower elevations and on slopes at the upper limit of its range. The catclaw bears small leaves with 4-6 pairs of leaflets on each of the 2-3 pairs of pinnae. Pinnae are most frequently in two pairs, with the proximal pair perpendicular to the petiolule and the distal pair forming a V at the tip.

Creosote Bush Scientific Name  Larrea Tridentata Common Names  Chaparral (when used as a medicinal herb), Greasewood, Gobernadora, Hediondilla, Guamis Height  1.6 -11.5 feet tall Use and Toxicity  This plant is used as an herbal supplement and was used by Native Americans in the Southwest as a treatment for many maladies, including sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, chicken pox, dysmenorrheal, and snakebites. The Food and Drug Administration of the United Stated do not recommend the use of this plant as internal medicine and the Health Canada has issued the alert that this plant can produce damage to liver and kidneys. Other Information  The larrea tridentata is an aromatic dark green shrub with small yellow five-petal flowers. The 5,000-50,000 average flowers produced in a year by one plant attract various insects such as bees, wasps, and flies. The yellow flowers’ bloom peaks in March and April, and again through December to November. The bush is commonly found in flats, bajadas, and hills bellow 4, 500 feet.

95


The Yuma Area Vegetation

Desert Sunflower Scientific Name  Geraea Canescens Common Names  Desert Sunflower, Hairy Desert Sunflower, Desert Gold Height  1-3 feet tall Toxicity and Uses  The flowers attract bees, and the seeds are an important food source for birds and rodents. Other Information  The Desert Sunflower is a slender, hairy plant with sparse, gray-green, ovate; leaves grow to 3 inches long. Two-inch, golden-yellow flowers that are composed of 10 to 20 pedals. These flowers bloom between February and May and sometimes, with moist summers, again in October and November. The desert sunflower is usually located in sandy, barren desert flats and roadsides below 3,000 feet in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of southeastern California, southwestern Utah, Arizona and northwestern Mexico.

Desert Willow Scientific name  Chilopsis Linearis Common names  Desert Willow, Mimbre Height  Up to 25 feet tall Other Information  The desert willow is an upright shrub or small tree with dark scaly bark and narrow, light-green leaves that are 3 to 6 inches long with pointed ends. Its twigs are slender and brown and tend to be hairy. It is not an actual member of the willow family but instead is a member of the bignonia family. Its flowers are large, fragrant, and orchid-like. They are also between 1 and 1 ¼ inch long with white edges and pink or purple throats that normally bloom from April to August. It also produces a long brown cigar-like seed pod that is 4-8 inches long. The desert willow is found in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts from southern California to southwest Texas, and northern Mexico, and is commonly found along desert washes and creeks, stream banks and drainages. Toxicity and Uses  The wood of the Desert Willow is used to make fence posts, while a tea is sometimes made from the dried flowers and seed pods.

96


Plants

Elephant Tree Scientific name: Bursera Microphylla Common names  Elephant Tree Height  3-10 feet tall Other Information  The bursera microphylla is a very short and stout tree with a tapered trunk and branches that resemble the legs and trunk of an elephant. The scientific name, bursera microphylla, actually means “small-leafed“ because of its dull, light green, oblong shaped aromatic leaves that are about one inch long and are found on the cherry red branches of the tree.. The elephant tree produces a pleasant smelling 1/4 inch-long fruit in the autumn that contains one nutlet, and in the early summer it produces small 5-pedal, creamy white flowers that are less than 1/4 inch wide. The elephant tree is extremely rare, and is only found in the Sonoran Desert of western Arizona, the extreme southern region of California, and northwestern Mexico. It is commonly found in washes, gravely plains, rocky limestone, or igneous slopes, and with the slightest touch your fingers will smell of a delightful citrus scent. Toxicity and Uses  Medicines prepared from the elephant tree were used by Native American tribes, and these medicines were considered very valuable and powerful.

Engelmann’s Prickly-Pear Scientific name  Opuntia Engelmannii Common names  Nopal, Tuna, Abrojo, Joconostle, Vela de Coyote Height  2 feet Toxicity and Uses  The fruits were a dependable summer food for many native tribes of the area. Other Information  The nopal is the most common prickly-pear plants in Arizona’s deserts. Its branches of pads might be erect, ascending or sprawling. In addition, the joints may be 10 inches long. The spines may be flattened, straight or curve, brown or white. This plant has yellow flowers and a purplish- red fruit. Appearing in April and May, the flowers open around 8:00 am and close about 8 hours later. This plant lives at least 30 years.

97


Elephant Tree 98


Plants

Evening Primrose Scientific Name  Oenothera Primiveris Common Names  Yellow Desert Evening-Primrose, Yellow Cups, Hierba del Golpe Height  4-16 inches tall Toxicity and Uses  Native American tribes have used the evening-primrose for food and medicinal purposes. Birds and insects also feed on the nectar, and leaves of the plant. Other Information  The evening-primrose is a smaller plant with a large pale-yellow center of a rosette of leaves. Each flower has four pedals and bloom between February and May. The name is derived from the fact that the flowers are closed during the day and open in the evening. It is usually located in the desert flats and gentle slopes between 1600-5300 feet above sea level, and is found throughout southeastern California, Arizona, western Texas, and northwestern Mexico.

Fairy Duster Scientific Name  Calliandra Eriophylla Common Names  Fairy Duster, Calliandra, False Mesquite, Mesquitilla, Hairy-Leaved Calliandra Heigh  8-48 inches Toxicity and Uses  The fairy duster provides food to many desert animal, birds and insects. Other Information  The fairy duster is a short, thornless shrub that is low lying and densely branched. It is a member of the pea family, and blooms light pink to orange puffs that are about 2 inches in diameter and contain many flowers. They can be found growing in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts of southern California to southwestern New Mexico as well as northern Mexico. They tend to grow on open hillsides, sandy desert washes and slopes below 5,000 feet.

99


The Yuma Area Vegetation

Foothills Palo Verde Scientific Name  Cercidium Microphyllum Common Names  Paloverde, Yellow Paloverde, Littleleaf Paloverde, Dipua. Height  19.7 feet Use and Toxicity  The Seri people, a Native American group from northwest Mexico used to grind up the seeds for flour, boil the green pods with meat, and eat the sweet green seeds and the flowers. They also strung the seeds for necklaces. Other Information  This small tree is a Sonora Desert endemic abundant in upper bajadas, plains, and hill slopes. It presents between five and seven pairs of leaflets and bicolor small flowers of white and yellow. The foothills paloverde flowers may not bloom every year and when it does, the blooming time may be as brief as ten days. The paloverde is threatened by buffelgrass which is an exotic species of grass native to Africa and first introduced into the Sonoran desert for livestock grazing. Buffelgrass spreads very quickly and will often kill paloverdes by taking away nearby water. This could pose a serious threat to the tree in the future.

Ironwood Scintific Name  Olneya Tesota Common Names  Palo de Hierro, Desert Iron Wood Height  30 feet Use and Toxicity  The ironwood produces one of the heaviest woods in the world which is used for radiantly polished woodcarving of desert and sea animals by The Seri Indians. Another popular use of its wood is in the creation of knife handles. There is no toxicity associated with this plant. Other Information  It grows as a tree or a bush with spiny, green branches and light gray, fissured bark. Its small flowers vary in color ranging from deep violet to white, which gives it a pale purplish color. The flowers attract a variety of potential pollinators, including carpenter bees, honeybees, and humming birds. Bloom time occurs in late April and May. It seldom grows above an altitude of 2,500 feet and is commonly found on washes and slopes.

100


Plants

Jumping Cholla Scientific Name  Opuntia Fulgida Common Names  Jumping Cholla, Teddybear Cholla, Silver Cholla, Cholla Guera Height  3-7 feet tall Toxicity and Uses  A modern usage is that some use the Jumping Cholla in their yards for decorative desert landscaping. Other Information  The jumping cholla is a very spiny cactus, usually a shrub with several irregular jointed branches bearing sharp spines that are very difficult to remove if they happen to embed themselves in your skin. They are accused of “jumping“ because the joints of the branches separate easily and sometimes appear to jump off the branches. It can be distinguished by its dense, straw-colored spines and yellow to green flowers, which bloom from February to May. As this cactus ages, the spiny branches turn from a silvery white color to a dark chocolate brown or black color. Jumping chollas are usually found growing on the valley floors of the Sonoran Uplands between 100 and 2,000 feet, the Mohave Desert, California, and Sonora, Mexico.

Mesquite Scientific name  Prosopis Velutina Common names  Velvet Mesquite, Mesquite, Algarroba, Chachaca Height  55 feet Toxicity and Uses  Mesquite is known nationwide for its fine wood, which is often used to produce excellent quality furniture and firewood. It is also known for the mild-flavored honey produced by the bees that favor the mesquite’s flowers. Other Information  This shrub or tree contains 9 to 30 pairs of leaflets. The foliage and fruits are densely pubescent. An average sized tree produces up to 12 million flowers every season. The mesquite bloom initiates in late April, wanes by early June, then reinitiates in early August. Mesquite trees grow quickly and provide shade as well as wildlife habitats where other trees will not grow. It has spines and tightly coiled fruits.

101


The Yuma Area Vegetation

Ocotillo Scientific Name  Fouquieria Splendens Common Names  Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, and the Vine Cactus Height  7-32 feet Toxicity and Uses  The stems were used to support of thatched roofs and by Seri Indians, as framework for brush houses. Apache Indians bathed in a decoction of the roots to relieve fatigue and also applied the powdered root to painful swellings. A tincture of the inner bank can be used medically as well. No toxicity associated to this plant. Other Information  It is a candelabra-form shrub with a stocky trunk and 6-30 (rarely up to 100) spinose, wand-like, ascending steams. The bark basal stem is rough and fissured. This plant presents beautiful red flowers that bloom during the summer and the spring occurring as a group of small tube shapes at the tip of the stem. The ocotillo is common on rocky outwash slopes and plains and can be abundant on limestone, especially towards its upper elevation limits bellow 4, 500 feet.

Purple Fountain Grass Scientific name: Pennisetum Setaceum Common names  Fountain Grass, Purple Fountain Grass, Feather Bristle, African fountain grass, Tender Fountain Grass Height  2-7 feet tall Toxicity and Uses  Fountain grass is used mostly for decoration, either as landscaping or in floral arrangements. Other Information  Fountain grass is a dense symmetrical clump of grass that grows pale pink to purple feathery cylindrical flower clusters 3-12 inches long. These feathery flowers bloom from June to October and then turn brown and dry in the winter, becoming a fire hazard. The leaves are 1/8 of an inch wide and 8-24 inches long with a base that acts as a sheath for the base of the flower stems. It is located on roadsides and canyon bottoms, between 1000 -5000 feet in the Sonoran Desert, and most commonly found in Arizona. This plant is native to Africa and is a very invasive species.

102


103

Ocotillo


The Yuma Area Vegetation

Saguaro Scientific Name  Carnegiea Gigantea Common Names  Saraguro Height  45.3 feet Use and Toxicity  Native people of the Sonora desert used Saguaro as food and as building materials. Other Information  This is the largest cactus in the state of Arizona. The saguaro is a common plant on rocky hillsides and outwash slopes through its ranges. The night blooming flowers appear April through May and the sweet, ruby-colored fruit matures by late June. Each fruit can contain up to 2,000 seeds. Saguaro flowers are self incompatible and require a pollinator, and pollination requires large quantities of pollen. Bats visit the flowers at night and birds, bees, and other insects visit them during the day. The age of this monumental cactus can be determined by researchers based on its height and number of branches. Some Scientifics have found saguaros 200 years old. They have relatively a long life it takes 75 years for a saguaro to develop an arm. Nevertheless, it presents a very slow propagation.

Smoke Tree Scientific name  Dalea Spinosa Common names  Smoke Tree, Smoke Thorn, Indigo Bush, Indigo Thorn, Mangle, Corona de Christo Height  Up to 20 feet tall Toxicity and Uses  N/A Other Information  The desert smoke tree is a member of the pea family. Its name is derived from the plume-like growth and golden color that gives the tree the appearance of smoke. It has a small crooked trunk with scaly brown bark, and its leaves are only about a 1/2 inch long and only appear for a few weeks in the spring. The flowers are a magnificent dark purple to dark blue pealike flower that only bloom for about a month. This tree is usually located in the Sonoran Desert of extreme southern Nevada, southeastern California, western Arizona, and northwestern Mexico ,and is found along sandy or gravelly flats, arroyos and washes, usually at elevations below sea level to 1500 feet above sea level. 104


105

Saguaro


The Yuma Area Vegetation

Soaptree Yucca Scientific Name  Yucca Elata Common Names  Soaptree Yucca, Palmilla, Spanish Bayonet, Soapweed Yucca Height  Up to 23 feet tall Toxicity and Uses  The Tohono O’odham tribe harvested young leaves for weaving baskets. The roots can be pounded in water to yield a detergent and a shampoo, and other numerous Native Americans ate the flowers and fed chopped stems to the livestock in times of food shortage. Other Information  The soaptree yucca is a palm-like shrub that derives its name from the soap-like material in the roots. It is a long stalk that protrudes from a bush of grass-like leaves. It produces a creamy white flower that blooms from May to July, and a fruit is also formed that is 1 to 3 inches in length and matures during the summer, splits into 3 parts, and reveals a seed. It can be found at elevations between 1500-1600ft from southern Arizona to Texas and into northern Mexico, and tends to grow in dry, sandy plains, mesas, desert washes, as well as in desert grasslands.

106


Plants

Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muggins_Mountains http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Ironwood http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinsonia_microphylla http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creosote_Bush http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinsonia_florida http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferocactus_wislizeni http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geraea_canescens http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/parflo/all.html http://www.desertusa.com/dec96/du_elephant.html http://www.desertusa.com/magjan98/jan_pap/du_dwillow.html http://www.desertusa.com/sep97/du_smoketree.html http://www.desertusa.com/mag98/may/papr/du_chaincholla.html http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/jumping_cholla.htm http://www.desertusa.com/magfeb98/feb_pap/du_soapyucca.html http://www.desertusa.com/june96/du_far.html http://www.gardenguides.com/taxonomy/common-evening-primrose-oenothera-biennis/ http://www.desertusa.com/april96/du_britbush.html http://www.desertusa.com/mag99/feb/papr/desunflower.html http://www.aridzonetrees.com/AZT%20Interactive%20Buttons/Tree%20Index/Cut%20sheets/Psorothamnus/Psorothamnus%20spinosus.htm http://www.floridata.com/ref/p/penn_set.cfm Arizona Highways book. Desert Wildflowers by Desert Botanical Garden Stuff, Gary Paul Nabban, Mary Irish, Jane Cole, James R. Metcalf. Sonoran Desert Plants an Ecological Atlas Rymond M. Turner, Janice E. Bowers, Tony L. Burgess Sonoran Desert Wildflowers by: Richard Spellenberg.

107


Southwestern Desert Fauna

Mammals: Black-Tail Jack Rabbit Description  It color is buff, tanish peppered with black above and white below and the tail has a black stripe above. The ears are long and brown with black tips. They are though of as true hares because, unlike the cottontail rabbits, they do not build nets. Behavior  Active primarily at night. During the day they can be seen resting in the shade of a small bush or even a fence post. Weights

6 - 8 pounds

Length

18 – 25 inches

Sexual Maturity

Attained in the first 7 to 8 months, although females do not breed until shortly after the one year mark has passed.

Mating Season

In areas of higher temperatures, females may breed year-round.

Habitat

Prefers to live in valleys and flat open country.

Typical Diet

Strict vegetarians, eat a variety of herbs and shrubs.

Range

Found in all four southwestern deserts. Most common found all over California except in the mountainous areas at elevations above 12,000 feet.

Coyote/Prairie Wolf Description  A member of the dog family. In size and shape the coyote is similar to a mediumsized Collie dog, but its tail is round and bushy and is carried straight out below the level of its back. Behavior  One of the most adaptable animals in the world, the coyote can change its breeding habits, diet, and social dynamics to survive in a wide variety of habitats. They maintain their territories by marking them with urine and also use calls to defend this territory. Weight

15 - 45 pounds

108


Mammals

Length

40 - 60 inches

Sexual Maturity

1 - 2 years

Mating Season

January through March

Gestation Period

58 - 65 days

Lifespan

Around 15 years in the wild.

Typical Diet

Small mammals, insects, reptiles, fruit, and carrion.

Range

They are most at home in open grasslands, desert areas containing shrubs, and thinly wooded, bushy areas.

Desert Cottontail Description  The adult desert cottontail is light colored, tan to gray, with a yellowish tinge. The underside of the body is whitish in color. It often has an orange-brown throat patch. The tail is rounded and looks like a cotton ball, but is darker above, white below. Cottontails can run up to 20 miles per hour in zigzag patterns to escape predators. Behavior  Active early in the morning, late afternoon, and at night but may be seen at any time of the day. During the day they may rest in shade produced by large plants. In hot summers they conserve moisture and energy by avoiding activity during the daylight hours. Weight

2 - 3 pounds

Length

13 - 17 inches, although females are larger than males.

Mating Season

A female may bear up to eight months of the year if not all the year around.

Ear Length

3 - 4 inches long

Habitat

Desert cottontails thrive in a variety of habitats, including dry desert- like grasslands and shrub lands, riparian areas and pinyon-juniper forests.

Typical Diet

Cottontails are herbivores, therefore they eat a multiple types of plants, including grasses, forbs, shrubs and even cacti; however, ninety percent of their diet is grass. One interesting random fact is that cottontails are coprophagic, which means they eat their own feces. They get most of their water from the plants they eat or dew forms on the plants.

Range

Found throughout the Great Plains states from eastern Montana, south to west Texas, west to central Nevada and southern California, south to Baja California and northern Mexico. Found in elevations up to 6500 feet. Other species replace the desert cottontails at higher elevations.

109


Southwestern Desert Fauna

Desert Wood Rats Description  Wood rats are pale tan, gray, or reddish brown, usually with white undersides and feet. They have relatively large ears and, normally, hairy tails. There are 22 species of wood rats. They are commonly called Pack Rats or Trade Rats because they collect various objects and bits of material to deposit in, or use in the construction of, their nests. Behavior  Primarily nocturnal Length

8 - 20 inches, including their 3 – 9 inch tail.

Sexual Maturity

Approximately 60 days after birth

Habitat

Gravel desert lowlands, dry plains, brush lands and pinyon-juniper forests, from below sea level to 8,000 feet.

Typical Diet

Survive on a diet of spiny cactus, yucca pods, bark, berries, pinyon nuts, seeds, and any available green vegetation. They rely on succulent plants for their water since they do not have the refined metabolic and water conservation capabilities of Pocket Mice and Kangaroo Rats.

Range

Widely disbursed throughout all of the North American desert regions, and north to Canada.

Gray Fox Description  A member of the dog family, and the only one capable of climbing trees in search of refuge or prey. Its coloration is grizzled gray on top, with a white throat extending underneath and it is rusty-red along the sides. The tail usually has a black mane, with a dark gray or black tip. They have elongated muzzles and forward pointing ears. Gray foxes are smaller in size than coyotes. Behavior  Primarily nocturnal, although it may sometimes be seen foraging during the day in the search of food. Weight

7–11 pounds.

Length

Usually 32–45 inches.

Mating Season

February to Marh; generally foxes remain solitary during the winter.

Gestation Period

About 51 days.

Habitat

Chaparral, wooded areas, and among boulders on the slopes of rocky ridges in canyons and open deserts.

110


Mammals

Typical Diet

Usually small mammals and birds, but being an omnivore, it will also eat eggs, fruits, acorns, and berries.

Range

All four deserts of the American Southwest and beyond.

Kangaroo Rat Description  Kangaroo Rats have plump, dumpy little body with large hind legs, large eyes positioned on the side of their heads, and small rounded ears. They are pale in color with light pastel shades of tan, cream, and off-white. There is usually a white band of fur that crosses the hips from the base of the tail. The tail is always longer than the head and body, is covered with fur, and the end is tufted with longer hairs. There are 22 different species in the North America. Behavior  Kangaroo Rats are unique in the world because of their ability to survive with only trace amounts of water. They can convert the dry seeds they eat into water, and they neither sweat nor pant to keep cool. In addition they spend their days in their burrow where the air is moist and humid. Kangaroo rats come out only at night when it is cool. Weight

1 - 6 ounces

Length

6 - 12 inches

Sexual Maturity

12 - 13 weeks

Mating Season

January - May

Gestation Period

32 days

Habitat

They occupy sandy and rocky soils in desert locations with little vegetation. Their burrows enter the ground at an angle.

Typical Diet

Primary foods are seeds, mesquite, creosote bush, ocotillo, and grass. However some species also eat other green vegetation and insects.

Range

Found only in the more arid regions of the western and southwestern U.S. Several species are found in all four southwestern deserts. Many of the 22 species can be found only in California.

111


Southwestern Desert Fauna

Prairie Dog Description  Prairie Dogs are robust rodents, slightly grizzled and fat. They have broad, rounded heads, hairy tails, and short legs. Their color is yellowish, with darker ears, and a pale tan to whitish belly. They have white or tan patches on the side of their nose, their upper lips and around their eyes in the form of a ring. Prairie dogs can run up to 35 miles per hour in short distances. They are the most social members of the squirrel family and are closely related to the ground squirrel. There are five species in North America. Behavior  Their “language“ is considered to be one of the most sophisticated of all natural “languages“. They issue different sounds identifying various predators like hawks, owls, and eagles. Length

11 - 13 inches

Tail Length

3 - 4 inches

Sexual Maturity

1 year

Mating Season

March - April

Gestation Period

28 - 32 days

Life Span

3 - 5 years in the wild

Habitat

Prairie dogs dig burrows, and they are well constructed and frequently reinforced with a dike to protect the burrow against flooding from sudden rains.

Typical Diet

Almost exclusively vegetarian. Their diet includes grasses, roots, weeds, forbs, and blossoms. They acquire their water from the food they eat. Moreover, sometimes they include insects on their diets.

Range

Throughout most of the western United States from Canada to Mexico, Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and Wyoming, including higher elevations of the Mojave, Great Basin and Chihuahua deserts.

112


Mammals

Rock Squirrel Description  One of the largest members of the Scuridae family. In front and on top, their coat is a speckled grayish-brown. On the back and on the bottom the gray becomes a more mottled brownish black. They have a marked light colored ring around their eyes, and pointy ears that project well above their heads. When alarmed they whistle a short, sharp oscillating call. Most squirrels hibernate 6 - 8 months, from August through February. However, southern rock squirrels may not hibernate at all. Behavior  Burrows dug with their sharp claws and muscular legs shelter them, providing safety, living space, and food storage. Commonly burrow systems are complex and lengthy, and are enlarged over the years. Entrances are usually hidden beneath rocks. Moreover, rock squirrels are active in the early morning and late afternoons and can climb nearly as well as tree squirrels. They are social and live in colonies with several females and one dominant male that will fight against other males to protect the group. Weight

Around 1.5 pounds

Length

10 - 15 inches

Tail Length

8 inches

Mating Season

Early spring

Gestation

30 days

Lifespan

1 - 2 years and around 10 years in captivity.

Habitat

Live in arid canyons, rocky cliff areas, and boulder piles, but have also been known to burrow in urban or suburban areas under lumber piles or junk cars. They avoid open flats and mountain forest areas.

Typical Diet

They are omnivorous. Their diet consists of seeds, insects, mesquite beans, fruits, carrion, small birds, and eggs.

Range

They are found in the Sonora Desert, and from Southern Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, and through Arizona, New Mexico and into Mexico.

113


Southwestern Desert Fauna

White-Tailed Antelope Squirrel Description  Their color might vary depending on the season. In summer they have a tan color while in winter their color is grey. They have one narrow white stripe along each side of the body, a white belly, and a tail with a white underside. Behavior  Squirrels are highly social. Unlike other ground squirrels, they are do not hibernate. However, during the colder seasons of northern parts of its range some are found hibernating. They are most active in midmorning and late afternoon, though in winter they are most active in mid-day. They can be well adapted to tolerate high temperatures, including an increased body temperature that may reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they cannot adapt well to low temperatures. Length

7 - 9 inches

Life Span

Around 1 year, although some are known to live up to 4 years.

Habitat

The white-tailed antelope squirrel is usually found foraging on the ground, and abandoned burrows of other animals, or rock crevices.

Typical Diet

15 to 60 percent of their diet consists of green vegetation. Seeds make up of 50 percent their diet. Insects are also included in their diet, particularly grasshoppers. They are considered to be opportunistic feeders, meaning they make use of what is available in their environment.

Range

From south east Oregon, southwest Idaho, southern California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.

114


115

White-Tailed Antelope Squirrel


Southwestern Desert Fauna

Insects: Blister Beetle Description  Most have long, narrow, cylindrical bodies. The wing (elytra) covers are usually soft and pliable. Life Cycle

Generally, one generation occurs per year although some develop in 35 to 50 days, while in others development takes 3 years.

Habitat

Adults can be found on flowers or infesting crops. Blister beetles feed on flowers and foliage of a wide variety of crops including alfalfa, ornamental plants, potatoes, soybeans, garden vegetables and other plants.

Dragonfly Description  Large heavy bodies, big eyes on the sides of the head, some are even migratory. Males have three terminal abdominal appendages and a bump (genitalia) under their second abdominal segment. All females have only two terminal abdominal appendages and in many families they also have an ovipositor (where eggs are deposited), most dragonflies lay their eggs in water. Behavior  Most perch horizontally and fly out to hawk prey Length

19 – 86 millimeters

Habitats

Lakes and ponds, still waters of river pools

116


Insects

Empress Leilia Butterfly Description  The upper-side is chestnut brown. It has median white spots and 2 black eyespots near the outer margin. Forewing has 2 solid brown bars in the cell. Food Source

Sap and dung, occasionally flower nectar.

Habitat

Thorn scrub, washes, canyons, stream banks.

Size

Has a wingspan of 1 ½ - 3 inches (3.8 - 7.6 cm).

Fly Description  Three body parts head, thorax, and abdomen. One pair of fully developed wings. Adult mouth parts are sponging, lapping, or piercing. Antennae may be difficult to see. Food Source

Larvae feed on decaying meat and feces. Adult flies feed on sugary foods, including nectar and rotting fruit.

Habitat

Flies live in garbage and anywhere animal feces are available. Dead animals attract flies within hours of death. Most flies are diurnal (active during the day).

Harvesting Ant Description  Red Harvester Ants can be aggressive and have a painful sting that spreads through the lymph nodes, sometimes causing reactions, especially in animals allergic to their venom. They can also bite ferociously. Behavior  The ant looks for a mate to become fertile. Once she is fertilized she looks for a spot in the ground to were starther nest in. Once she has chosen a site, shesheds her wings and begins to reproduce, creating a new colony. She produces “worker ants“ for 1–20 years until her death. Typical Diet

Their main source of food is seeds

Length

5 – 7 millimeters

Habitat

Common in the southwest United States.

117


Southwestern Desert Fauna

Birds: Black-Tailed Gnatcatcher Description  Non-migratory bird that lives in pairs throughout the entire year. They forage among low shrubs and trees for small insects and spiders and are true desert birds. The gnatcatcher has bluish-gray upperparts, whitish chests, white eye rings, and thin, dark beaks. These birds have brownish wash on their wings, and long black tails with whitish outer feathers. They appear mostly black from underneath. The male has a black cap. Length

4.5 to 5 inches

Habitat

Desert

Food Source

Insects and spiders

Common Raven Description  Common ravens are large, black birds with a wedge-shaped tail. They have a welldeveloped ruff of feathers on the throat Lifespan

Approximately 13 years and 4 months, but captive birds may live much longer. One captive individual was recorded to have lived 80 years and captives at the Tower of London in England live for 44 years or more.

Range

Common ravens are one of the most widespread, naturally occurring birds worldwide.

Habitat

Open landscapes such as a treeless tundra, seacoasts, open riverbanks, rocky cliffs, mountain forests, plains, deserts, and scrubby woodlands.

Length

Reach up to 69 centimeters

Weight

689 - 1625 grams (about 24 - 57 ounces)

118


Birds

Costal Hummingbird Description  A desert hummingbird that has a mostly green upper-body. Male costal has iridescent violet crown and gorget (throat patch). Gorget extends out to the sides of the throat. Female costal has a white throat and lower half of the body, sometimes with some violet feathers. Habitat

Sonoran and Mojave deserts of California and Arizona. It leaves the desert in the hottest days of summer, moving to chaparral, scrub, or woodland habitats.

Length

3 to 3.5 inches

Food Source

Feed on flower nectar and any tiny insects that it happens to find in the flowers and on the petals.

Gilded Flicker Description  Large woodpecker, with golden yellow under-wings. It has gray and white throughout the whole body. Length

Approximately 29 centimeters

Habitat

The Gilded Flicker most frequently builds its nest hole in a saguaro cactus. Northern Flickers on the other hand, nest in riparian trees and very rarely inhabit saguaros. Gilded Flickers occasionally mate with Northern Flickers in the narrow zones where their range and habitat overlap.

Food Source

Ants and seeds

Verdin Description  One of the smallest birds from North America. It is mainly gray and white with a yellow tone on the head, and has a little bit of red above the wings. Length

9 - 11 centimeters

Habitat

Verdin lives in deserts, though it sometimes prefers places close to rivers.

Food source

Insects, nectar, seeds

119


Southwestern Desert Fauna

Reptiles & Amphibians: Banded Geckos Description  These reptiles have a soft skin, a short and stout body, large head, and limbs often equipped with suction-padded digits. Behavior  Nocturnal. It avoids the heat of the day by hiding under logs, debris and within moist rock crevices. When protecting its territory against other males, or when captured, they emit a squeak or chirp. Length

4 - 6 inches

Weight

20–30 grams (7 - 10.5 ounces)

Mating Season

During April and May, after emerging from winter hibernation.

Gestation Period

About 45 days

Habitat

Rocky or sandy desert and semiarid locales into oak and pinyon-juniper woodlands up to elevations of 5,000 feet.

Typical Diet

Hunt insects, spiders, baby scorpions and other small arthropods.

Range

Mojave and Sonoran deserts of southeastern California, south and western Arizona, and southern Nevada; southwestern Utah, southwestern New Mexico, and south into Baja California and northern Mexico.

Bullfrog Description  A large frog that is light green to dark olive green above, with dark spots and blotches. No dorsolateral folds. A short fold extends from the eye over and past the eardrum to the forearm. Behavior  Highly aquatic, and are rarely found far from water. Active both day and night. When startled the bullfrog usually emits a chirp or squeak, then jumps into the water. Length

3.5–8 inches from snout to vent. Males grow up to 7 1/8 inches, females up to 8 inches.

Mating Season

May - late August 120


Reptiles & Amphibians

Gestation Period

9–30 days.

Habitat

Inhabits warm, sunny, permanent water like lakes, ponds, sloughs, reservoirs, marshes, slow river backwaters, and slow creeks. Also found in grasslands, farmland, prairies, woodlands, chaparral, forests, and desert oases.

Typical Diet

Eats anything its can swallow including mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, and reptiles. Typical of most frogs, the prey is located by vision, and then a large sticky tongue is used to catch the prey and bring it into the mouth to eat.

Range

Native to the eastern and mid-western United States and southeast Canada. Introduced for food due to their large meaty legs in the 1920’s and are now established throughout most of the western United States and southwestern Canada.

Glossy Snake (Arizona Elegans) Description  This is a non-venomous snake with numerous dark-edged, tan, golden brown, or olive-gray blotches on a tan, light cream, pinkish, or gray background. The pupils are round. Behavior  It rarely bites when captured. This nocturnal ground-dweller is a good burrower that spends the majority of its time underground. It hibernates in an underground burrow during the cold months of late fall and winter. When threatened or harassed it often vibrates its tail. Length

Up to 42 inches

Mating Season

Spring, with one clutch of up to 23 eggs.

Gestation Period

4 - 5 months

Habitat

It inhabits from Arizona’s desert scrubs, through semi-desert grassland, and into the Great Plains and the Great Basin Grassland. It is usually found in relatively flat, open, shrubby areas with sandy or loamy soil. Typical Diet

Range

In Arizona this snake is found across the northeastern plateaus, the southwestern and western deserts, and the southeastern valleys. It occurs at elevations ranging from near sea level along the Colorado River to about 6,000 feet.

121


Southwestern Desert Fauna

Long-Nosed Snake Description  Non-venomous. The head is narrow, the lower jaw is countersunk, and in profile, the snout is pointed. The scales are smooth and shiny, the pupils are round, and the irises are red or orange. Body markings are highly variable but generally consist of black saddles surrounded by white, cream, or yellow interspaces with or without pinkish red suffusions. Behavior  Is almost nocturnal in Arizona. It is normally active from April through September, and hibernates underground during the cold months of late fall and winter. When captured or threatened it may writhe and hide its head beneath its coils, vibrate its tail, evert the lining of the cloaca, and release musk and foul-smelling waste. Length

This snake can grow to 1,520 millimeters but in Arizona most individuals are less than 890 millimeters or 35 inches in total length.

Mating Season

April and May, clutch size ranges from 3 to 11 eggs.

Gestation Period

42 - 90 days.

Habitat

Found primarily in sparsely vegetated desert scrub communities and semi-desert grasslands, but it extends up into the lower reaches of the woodlands in some areas. It inhabits low desert ranges, foothills, valleys, and flatlands with sandy, gravelly, or moderately rocky soils. It is usually absent from steep mountainous terrain.

Typical Diet

The Long-Nosed Snake is a constrictor that actively forages for lizards, small mammals, snake and lizard eggs, and occasionally grasshoppers. Whiptail lizards make up a large percentage of its diet. Small snakes feed almost exclusively on lizards. Larger individuals include small mammals in their diet.

Range

This common and widespread snake is found across the flatlands and valleys of southern and western Arizona at elevations ranging from near sea level along the Colorado River to about 6,000 feet. It is also found on the plateaus of the Arizona Strip (land north of the Colorado River).

Long-Tailed Brush Lizard Description  Gray-brown irregularly-shaped crossbars. The throat is usually yellow or orange. A single, wide, lengthwise strip of enlarged, keeled scales runs down the middle of the back. Behavior  An excellent climber, the brush lizard can commonly be seen basking and foraging on the branches of trees. It often seeks shelter in the sand or in a burrow on cool nights but may sleep in the branches after a particularly hot day. 122


Reptiles & Amphibians

Length

Up to 66 millimeters or 2.6 inches

Mating Season

Lays one or two clutches of eggs in spring and summer.

Gestation Period

Two months.

Habitat

Primarily an inhabitant of the Lower Colorado River Sonoran Desert scrub community and Mohave Desert scrub. It also follows riparian corridors and drainages into Arizona Upland Sonoran Desert scrub.

Typical Diet

The Long-Tailed Brush Lizard eats a variety of insects, spiders, and occasionally some plant material.

Range

Inhabits the Colorado and Mojave deserts from the slopes east and north of the mountains, east into southwest and south-central Arizona, southern Nevada and extreme southwestern Utah, and south into Baja, California and Sonora, Mexico

OrnateTree Lizard Description  Slim, gray-brown, or tan lizard with an ornate pattern of thin, dark lines on top of the head. Body markings are variable but usually consist of black or dark gray-brown, irregularly shaped blotches. Some specimens have lengthwise striations and some are plain. On the back are two parallel, lengthwise strips of enlarged, keeled scales separated at the mid-dorsum by a strip of small granular scales. Behavior  This diurnal lizard is an excellent climber and it is commonly seen basking and foraging on urban walls, fences, and building exteriors. In natural settings it climbs and basks on logs, boulders, and trees. It hibernates during the cold months of late fall and early winter. Males are highly territorial. The territorial display includes “push-ups“ and extending the brightly colored throat. Length

4.5 - 6.25 inches

Mating Season

Spring and summer. One or two clutches of eggs are laid during this time.

Gestation Period

Two to three weeks

Habitat

From Lower Colorado River Sonoran Desert scrub to the lower reaches of Petran Subalpine Conifer Forest. It is usually encountered in areas with plenty of features on which to climb such as wooded riparian corridors and boulder-strewn slopes.

Typical Diet

A variety of insects including aphids, beetles, flies, ants, bees, wasps, termites, moths, butterflies, grasshoppers, and crickets make up the diet of this lizard. It also feeds on a variety of spiders.

Range

Western U.S. from southern Wyoming to southeastern California and central Texas.

123


Southwestern Desert Fauna

Side-blotched Lizard Description  This lizard is generally brown in color, but it may be darker or lighter, and has a dark blotch located on each side of the chest just behind the front leg (hence, the common name). Small whitish spots cover the body. Behavior  These lizards do “push-ups“ which can signify territorial or mating behavior. One lizard may chase another from its turf. Length

4 - 6 inches from snout to tip of tail.

Mating Season

At the beginning of spring.

Gestation Period

61 days

Habitat

Dry sandy areas or gravelly areas with rocks and scattered plants. Found in elevations from below sea level to that of 9,000 feet.

Typical Diet

Ants, ant lion larvae, flies, mosquitoes, damselflies, dragonflies, beetles, bees, aphids, caterpillars, ticks, scorpions, and spiders.

Range

From central Washington, south to the tip of Baja, California, and on the east side of the Cascades and Sierras. East to western Colorado and west Texas, and into central Mexico.

Western Shovel-Nosed Snake Description  It uses mildly toxic saliva. This is a small snake with more than 20 dark brown to black bands on a cream to light yellow background. Some subspecies have secondary orange saddles between the black bands (see subspecies descriptions below). The snout is cream or light yellow. A black mask crosses the top of the head and covers the eyes. The pupils are round and the scales are smooth and shiny. Behavior  This snake is a ground dweller. It is primarily crepuscular but is occasionally active into the night and on mild days. Most surface activity occurs in spring. A good burrower, this snake spends most of its time under sand or sandy soil. It hibernates under the sand or soil during the cold months of fall and winter. Length

Up to 369 millimeters or 15 inches

Mating Season

Spring, clutch of up to 9 eggs.

Gestation Period

40 - 70 days. 124


Reptiles & Amphibians

Habitat

Lower Colorado River Sonoran Desert scrub and Mohave Desert scrub communities are home to this snake. It is usually found in or near sandy washes or dunes, in desert flats or on gently slopes.

Typical Diet

The Western Shovel-Nosed Snake feeds on a variety of invertebrates including insects, spiders, centipedes, and scorpions. It may occasionally eat reptile eggs.

Range

This snake is found in the low deserts of western and south-central Arizona, and California, at elevations ranging from near sea level to 2,500 feet. Populations in the eastern portion of this snake’s range appear to be in decline. Populations near Tucson and Paradise Valley have been extirpated.

Woodhouse’s Toad Description  Woodhouse’s Toads have a thick head, rounded snout and wide waist. Their hind legs are short and have a body color that is gray or yellowish-brown with a prominent white stripe down the back. Woodhouse’s have warty skins, horizontal pupils, large neck glands, lack an upper row of teeth and have prominent bony ridges just behind their eyes. The glands and warts produce a poison that makes the toad bad to eat. And to dispel the myth, they will not give you warts! Behavior  Woodhouse’s Toads are mostly active at night but can be seen in the daytime. The young toads may be easily seen in the daytime. Otherwise the toads burrow into the soil beneath low mounds or hide in debris piles. Length

2–5 inches

Mating Season

Breed between late April and July, depending on spring and summer rains. They tend to breed in streams, rivers, irrigation ditches, or in other sources of shallow water without a strong current.

Gestation Period

9–30 days.

Habitat

They live in wooded bottomlands, mountain canyons, riverbanks, marshes, irrigated farmland, gardens and residential areas. Generally found at elevations below 7,000 feet. One of the few toads to be seen around homes.

Typical Diet

In the wild they eat insects and spiders. In the zoo Woodhouse’s Toads eat crickets, mealworms, earthworms, and occasional pinkies (baby mice).

Range

Occur in the Intermountain West and Central states of North America, Northern Mexico, and from the Atlantic coast westward.

125


Southwestern Desert Fauna

Zebra-Tailed Lizard Description  The upper surfaces of the body are often marked with numerous cream-colored spots or flecks. The back of each thigh is marked with a distinct, dark, horizontal line. The tail is marked with gray-brown bands that become black on the underside where they sharply contrast with the white background. There are two dark bars on each side of the belly that extend up onto the sides just behind the forelimbs. On the body scales are small and granular. Behavior  After speeding away, this lizard sometimes stops far ahead in the open, but it will also run to the far side of a bush, out of view, or into a bush or burrow for protection. Length

Up to 102 millimeter or 4 inches from snout to vent

Mating Season

This reptile mates in spring and lays one or more clutches of eggs in summer.

Gestation Period

3 months

Habitat

Flatlands within the Sonoran Desert scrub, Mohave Desert scrub, and Chihuahuan Desert scrub communities are favored haunts for this lizard.

Typical Diet

This lizard sits and waits for prey to wander within a close proximity. It feeds on a variety of insects including grasshoppers, bees, wasps, caterpillars, beetles, and ants. It also feeds on a variety of spiders, small lizards, and occasionally plant material.

Range

Found across nearly all of southwestern Arizona, thewestern borderlands, and the southeastern deserts. In Arizona it occurs at elevations ranging from near sea level along the Colorado River to about 5,000 feet.

126


Reptiles & Amphibians

Sources: Mammals http://www.californiaherps.com/snakes/pages/c.c.laterorepens.html http://www.desertusa.com/mag99/apr/papr/packrats.html http://www.desertusa.com/june96/du_cycot.html http://www.sdnhm.org/fieldguide/mammals/cani-lat.html http://arizonensis.org/sonoran/fieldguide/vertibrata/salpinctes.html http://www.arizonensis.org/sonoran/places/hedgepeth.html http://www.desertusa.com/mag00/apr/papr/rabbit.html http://www.livingdesert.org/animals/default.asp

Insects http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_harvester_ant http://southwestdragonflies.net/swanisoptera.html http://insects.tamu.edu/fieldguide/bimg167.html http://insected.arizona.edu/flyinfo.htm http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species?l=1831&chosen_state=04*Arizona

Birds http://www.bird-friends.com/BirdPage.php?name=Black-Tailed%20Gnatcatcher  http://www.answers.com/topic/gilded-flicker-1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costa’s_Hummingbird http://www.wildlifenorthamerica.com/ylang/es/Bird/Verdin/Auriparus/flaviceps.html http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Corvus_corax.html

Reptiles and Amphibians http://www.californiaherps.com/lizards/pages/u.graciosus.html http://www.wildherps.com/species/U.graciosus.html http://www.desertusa.com/mag98/june/papr/du_wbgecko.html http://www.reptilesofaz.org/Lizards-Subpages/h-u-ornatus.html http://www.desertusa.com/mag99/aug/papr/wtoad.html http://www.californiaherps.com/frogs/pages/r.catesbeiana.html http://www.reptilesofaz.org/Snakes-Subpages/h-c-occipitalis.html http://www.wildherps.com/species/A.elegans.html

127


128

Let's Take a Walk | Desert Hiking Handbook  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you