Karen L West – Author and Photographer



Are you sitting at home and looking at two feet of snow? Or maybe you have a wonderful inch thick ice coating the roads. Tried of shoveling snow and chipping ice? Come to the Desert SW and enjoy warmer weather.

There is more than just sand, dust and gambling here. If you slow down enough, you will find a large variety of beauty to see. Start with the Sandhill Cranes at Whitewater Draw and Wilcox, AZ. The migrate here for the winter and you can watch and photograph them as the fly in or out of the fields. If you arrive at either location in the NE area of AZ, you will see them fly to the water in group of three (mother, father and child) but in the hundred of thousands. They are amazing to watch as the circle around in front of the mountains in the distance, then soar down to the water. If you want you can take a drive over to Bosque del Apache and see more cranes and snow geese.




Gilbert Water Ranch Riparian Preserve just east of Phoenix is a wonderful place to visit also. It consist of even or slightly rolling walk-ways around seven reclamation ponds. It offers places to see and watch water fowl and birds all around the area. If you go early mornings or late evening, you might catch the coyote group at the very back of the park.

Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson is another water wildlife area to visit and walk. There you can see migrating birds and water fowl. The offer guided walks on Wednesday mornings. If you are lucky enough during the morning hours you may get to see the resident bobcat family.

Don’t forget to visit Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon, Reid Park Zoo, Phoenix Zoo, Litchfield Wildlife Area, and SDM.

SDM is the Sonora Desert Museum and is a wonderful place to walk. They even have a small food café. They have desert animals to view and a Raptor Flight that you can see. This allows you to get a close of view of birds of prey as the fly from post to post on both sides of the people watching.

My favorite is the Hummingbird House. If you are there January to March you will get to see them building nest or see eggs or babies in nest. They are wonderful to watch and if you are patient, you can get some wonderful pictures of them. Each one has a special place it likes to sit for several minutes.

Twins ready to fly
Hummingbird eggs





Spring at the Saguaro National Park is amazing. The park actually has two separate locations – East Park and West Park. Be sure to visit both as they offer different views and animals. The best thing about spring is the cactus flowers. We are getting lots of rain this winter, so the flowers should be awesome this spring (Mid-March, April and early May). The flowers come in a variety of colors and sizes. From the barrel cactus to the large and tall Saguaro cactus.

The nice thing about the Desert SW is you are only a few hours away from several other locations you might enjoy such as the Imperial Sand Dunes, Salton Sea, Bosque del Apache, White Sands National Park, Santee Lakes and San Diego.

So if you need a break from the snow and ice, come and visit for a few days, weeks, or a couple of months. You will enjoy the beauty of the desert.