Huachuca Mountains

Huachuca Mountains banner scene. Photo from www.saguaro-juniper.com.

PHOTOS

View from Miller Peak.
This is the view from Miller Peak, which is the highest peak in the Huachuca Mountains. Photo by Dean at www.summitpost.org.

Miller Peak.
This photo looking up at Miller Peak from Miller Canyon shows the contrast in vegetation on north-facing versus south-facing slopes. Photo by Sebamiram at www.flickr.com.

Lemmon’s milkweed (Asclepias lemmonii).
Lemmon’s milkweed (Asclepias lemmonii) is a rare plant that grows mostly in mountains in Mexico, but it is also found in several of Arizona’s Sky Island mountain ranges. Photo by Max Licher at swbiodiversity.org.

High Point: Miller Peak, 9,466 feet

Elevation Change from Base: 4,466 feet

Vegetation at Highest Elevations: Douglas-fir–mixed conifer forests

The Huachuca Mountains are the third highest of the Sky Island mountain ranges in southeastern Arizona and they rise almost 4,500 feet above the desert floor. The mountain range is oriented in a northwestern direction giving it more north-facing slopes and perhaps a somewhat cooler climate than some of the other Sky Island mountain ranges with similar elevation. The highest elevations support mixed conifer forests on north-facing slopes and pine forests on south-facing slopes. Lower elevations have extensive oak and oak-pine woodlands. Management of this mountain range is divided mostly between the U.S Forest Service and Department of Defense (Fort Huachuca). Fort Huachuca occupies roughly the northeastern quarter of the range; the Forest Service manages the northwestern quarter and southern half. A small part of the southern end of the range is managed by the National Park Service as Coronado National Memorial.

Special Places:

  • East Side Canyons: Spring-fed streams, northeast orientation, and high canyon walls provide the canyons on the east side of the Huachuca Mountains with a moist cool environment unusual in the desert southwest. Water-loving trees like sycamores and maples grow along the streams often within a few feet of cacti, yucca, and agaves. The principal canyons accessible to visitors are Huachuca Canyon and Garden Canyon on Fort Huachuca; Ramsey Canyon, which is a private preserve managed by The Nature Conservancy; and Carr Canyon on the Coronado National Forest.
  • Miller Peak Wilderness: This wilderness of 20,190 acres occupies much of the high country at the southern end of the mountain range. It has an extensive trail system.
  • Coronado National Memorial: Francisco Vásquez de Coronado led the first major European expedition into the American Southwest in 1540 in search of the mythical Seven Cities of Cíbola. This park on the Mexican border was established to honor that quest. The park occupies the lower elevations at the southern end of the mountain range. It has excellent grasslands and evergreen oak woodlands.

Special Plants:

  • Arabis tricornuta
  • Asclepias lemmonii
  • Aster potosinus
  • Astragalus hypoxylus
  • Coursetia glabella
  • Hexalectris warnockii
  • Hieracium pringlei
  • Hieracium rusbyi
  • Laennecia eriophylla
  • Lilaeopsis schaffneriana ssp. recurva
  • Lilium parryi
  • Lupinus huachucanus
  • Malaxis porphyria
  • Packera neomexicana var. toumeyi
  • Pectis imberbis
  • Potentilla rhyolitica var. rhyolitica
  • Psilactis gentry
  • Senecio huachucanus
  • Talinum marginatum
  • Tragia laciniata
  • Viola umbraticola

Further Reading: