Trip Number: 13440A
Staff: Audrey Cullen
- Experience high Sonoran and Chihuahuan desert habitat
- Enjoy a prime desert wetland
- Visit the Chricahuas, the Galiuros, Karchner Caverns or Cochise Stronghold
- Lodging in fully equipped historic buildings at Muleshoe Ranch
- Home-cooked meals in the commons great room
- Hot springs a few steps from your door
- Short morning yoga session
Photo: Charles Schulz
In southeast Arizona, the great Sonoran desert and the Chihuahuan desert reach
out to meet one another. Lofty mountains with large undulating flat basins provide
runoff to the streams and tributaries of the San Pedro River. The river is born
in Mexico and flows north with life-sustaining water to produce a desert wetland,
a sanctuary for year-round mountain and desert species, and a rest stop for
flocks of migrating birds.
The Muleshoe Ranch protects most of the watershed area for seven permanently
flowing San Pedro tributaries, along with some of the best remaining aquatic
habitat in Arizona. Some 80 percent of the region's wildlife species -- which
include coatimundi, black bear, javalina, white tail and mule deer, mountain
lion, and desert bighorn sheep -- depend on these desert streams.
In the first half of the 20th century, the San Pedro River Valley was a quiet
area of ranches and farms. Present-day population growth, urban sprawl, and
the current short-sighted management of the region's water supply present significant
challenges to the preservation of the San Pedro River riparian corridor and
its animal inhabitants.
Over many years we have developed a great working relationship with the folks
at the Muleshoe Ranch. Each year we try to outdo our previous year’s achievements
and build on a growing understanding of the fragile yet enduring ecosystem that
the Muleshoe embraces. Joining us at the Muleshoe Ranch is an opportunity to
contribute to those efforts and educate yourself about this desert and its abundance
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is identifying several projects suitable for our
group based on their staffing needs. We prefer a variety of projects to suit
all levels of strength and stamina, and no previous experience is necessary.
Likely projects will include removing existing fencing that cuts off a large
parcel of wildlife habitat, brushing and fixing trails, and other tasks as needed.
While hiking to and from the various projects through 100-year-old cottonwoods
and dense riparian areas, expect to observe riparian birds and wildlife tracks
of all sorts. Getting to the worksites may require hiking or sometimes taking
truck travel over ranch roadways.
Photo: Charles Schulz
We’ll meet on the first day and have lunch in Willcox, Arizona. Following
introductions and instructions, we’ll proceed the remaining 30 miles to
Muleshoe Ranch Preserve. Upon our arrival, we will tour our new surroundings,
unpack, and have a couple hours before dinner.
We will work 6-8 hours each day, with some alternation of work crews to allow
trip participants to hike, photograph, and sightsee the surrounding area. At
the end of each day, participants not assigned to that day's cook crew are at
leisure to tour the established trails or soak tired muscles in the spring-fed
All trip participants who are confirmed on this trip will receive bulletins
from the trip leader with more specific information as it becomes available.
Please email the trip leader with any questions about the trip; do not contact
the Muleshoe Ranch Preserve.
You are responsible for getting yourself to the meeting point in Willcox,
Arizona and to and from the Ranch. Your mode and cost of transportation to the
ranch are not included in the trip price. Commercial flights and car rentals
are available in Tucson (closest) and Phoenix. Driving directions and the specific
meeting location will be sent to registered participants. Carpooling is strongly
recommended. As soon as a complete list of participants is available, the leader
will forward a copy to all trip members to facilitate their planning of transportation.
Accommodations and Food
All participants will be based and bunked at the Muleshoe Ranch. The Muleshoe
Ranch Preserve offers a mix of original and renovated historic buildings dating
from the late 1800s. Each housekeeping unit is fully equipped, containing bath,
kitchen, furnishings, and linens. You will need to bring your own toiletries.
Natural hot springs and the McMurray commons facilities are available to our
group. The morning and evening meals will be provided and eaten in the commons
dining room. Lunch will be at the worksite.
Mealtimes will depend on our activity schedule. Reasonable dietary requests
-- especially concerning food allergies -- should be noted on your questionnaire.
Meatless menus are not a problem as long as the leaders are aware of your preferences.
Kitchen duties will be shared by all -- expect to help out one or two days during
the week. Smoking is not permitted anywhere indoors and may be limited in some
outdoor areas. Our first meal on the premises will be dinner on day one; our
last meal will be breakfast on the last day.
Photo: Charles Schulz
If you have always wanted to do a service trip but are wary of camping, this
trip may be for you. This will be a moderately strenuous trip. Be in good shape
and prepared for lots of hard work and fun.
Anyone who doesn't live in the mountains or high desert environs must have
a healthy respect for the altitude: At 4,875 feet, lowlander lungs must work
harder to get extra oxygen. This accelerates water loss, even before you add
a little healthy perspiration. The physical impact of high-altitude exertion
cautions all of us to work at our own pace and rest when necessary. No one will
be pushed past his or her limits -- the need to accomplish a goal does not preclude
doing so safely and in an orderly manner.
If you haven't seen your doctor in the last five years, you will need to get
your physician’s signature on the medical questionnaire. All participants
must have a current tetanus shot.
Equipment and Clothing
Trip members are expected to furnish their own day pack -- comparable to a
student’s bookbag, not a fanny pack. The Ranch will provide work tools.
Bring and expect to carry at least three one-liter/one-quart water containers,
your own supply of moleskin and bandages, sunscreen, insect repellent, and lip
balm. Bring clothes and boots that are comfortable. Remember, this is not a
fashion show -- bring clothes that are broken-in (but not worn out) and that
can be easily layered for warmth and removed as the day's temperature increases.
February temperatures in this area can range from 30 degrees at night to 75
degrees in the mid-afternoon. While we hope for warm, clear days, rain can sweep
in. The only special item you must bring is a good pair of gloves. Gloves, like
boots, serve best when broken-in early. Bedding will be provided for you.
Please avoid the temptation to be casual about necessary items -- come prepared.
Because the Ranch is located in a remote area, once we have settled in, it will
not be convenient to drive anywhere for necessities. Willcox is a small town
with limited amenities.
- Bock, Carl E. and Jane E., The View from Bald Mountain: Thirty years
in an Arizona Grassland.
- Lowe, Charles H., Arizona's Natural Environment.
- Elmore, Francis H., Shrubs and Trees of the Southwest.
- Leake, Dorothy Vandyke, Desert and Mountain Plants of the Southwest.
- Peterson, Roger Tory, Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds.
- Hait, Pam, Day Trips from Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff.
- Casey, Robert, Journey to the High Southwest, A Traveler's Guide.
- http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/ unitedstates/arizona/placesweprotect/muleshoe-ranch-cma.xml
Breeding diversity in southern Arizona riparian areas is higher than in all
other habitats combined, and Western riparian areas contain the highest non-colonial
bird breeding densities in North America. More than 400 species of birds have
been recorded within the San Pedro River basin's major habitats. Nearly one-half
of the United States' bird species frequent the area as they migrate. The tremendous
importance of the San Pedro River system was established in 1988 when it was
recognized as this country's first Riparian National Conservation area. The
river is a 140-mile long desert oasis -- a dry San Pedro would mean no green
corridor or birds migrating across the arid land of the Southwest. The consequences
are hard to fathom. Careful conservation planning is necessary to help preserve
the right kind of natural areas in just the right places in order to keep migratory
corridors connected. Purchased by the Nature Conservancy in 1982, Muleshoe Ranch
is one of the most biologically diverse desert riparian areas in the world.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Audrey Cullen has participated in numerous Sierra Club service trips at Muleshoe and is excited to take over the trip as the leader.
Amy Odgers has been on several Sierra Club trips as a volunteer and, most recently, a cook and co-leader. Amy makes her home in Chicago with her husband and their dog.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips