Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club
Sandhill Cranes Trip
Willcox
January 26-28, 2024
clipbord   Trip Report : January 13-15, 2023
The trip:     We will be doing the Sandhill cranes viewing in the morning and evening, when they roost in the Willcox area. They are big and very spectacular bird. The flock size can be 10 to 1,000. Yes, the 1,000 is not a misstype. They may be doing some of their mating dance, but that mostly occurs after they have left Willcox. During the day we will be hiking in the Tucson and Willcox area. There are other birds in the area, but we will plan around the Sandhills. The cranes may be up to 5 foot tall with wingspans of 7 foot. About 40,000 cranes winter in the Willcox area. Bring warm clothing, morning and evening are cold with temperature in the low 30s.
    The first day (Friday) is the drive to Willcox. We will meet inside of McDonald’s at 4:30 PM (sunset 5:30) and then go to their flocking area just at the edge of town. That evening we will go to one of their flocking areas and see if they are there. Bring a warm jacket, because after the sun goes down the temperature goes down. Dinner will be after sunset at a place in Willcox.
    Second day (Saturday) We view the Sandhill’s in the morning before breakfast. We have to be there about 6:30 AM, a little before the sun rises (7:20 sunrise). Bring coat, gloves because it will be cold. The cranes will be less than 100 feet from us, so you need an OK lens on your camera. We then return to the hotel for breakfast. The cranes leave for their feeding areas after the sun gets up (about 8:00 AM) and the feeding areas are random. After breakfast, go to Ft. Bowie for some history and a nice little walk. After that to the Whitewater wildlife area and see if they are there. Then go depending on what the groups want Bisbee, Chiricahua’s or Willcox for an afternoon hike. Return to Willcox before dark to view the cranes. Also maybe a stop at Whitewater if we did not get enough pictures yet.
    Third day (Sunday) Do final viewing of the cranes and return to Phoenix.
    For lunch, we will eat at whatever place is close to us at that time. All dinners will be in Willcox.
•  Required:
•  Water 1 liter when hiking, have more in car to refill for next hike
•  Boots, warm shoes. Ft Bowie only has rocks if we do the high ridge.
•  Long pants
•  Jacket
•  Gloves
•  Recommended:
•  Camera
•  Hiking stick for Ft Bowie other trails no need
•  tripod for sunset & sunrise pictures
•  Binoculars if you want a close view
rating "C"     Rate yourself as a hiker.
dogs allowed no
cost Motel, gas, and food.
The club also allows voluntary contributions of $5 per non-member.
Best Time January through early February. Normal day time is in the low 60s. Nights low 30s.
Hotel I am in the Days Inn. Please check the listing below for accommodations in the Willcox area. In your email to me, please state which hotel you plan to stay in and if you want a roommate. I will assume that you have booked the hotel and can add the roommate later.
SureStay Plus Best Western
Willcox Inn
Days Inn
Holiday Inn Express
Super 8 Motel
Triangle T Guest Ranch
Plus others
weather Willcox  Normal daytime is low 60s. Normal nighttime is low 30s.
leader:   You must e-mail leader to confirm. I will set up limited car pools.
Meet: 9:00 AM on Friday morning in the parking lot near Einstein Brothers Bagel Shop on the SE corner of 48th Street and Ray Road, just west of I-10. For those of you leaving at different times, please let me know when you are leaving, so I will know when to expect you. No cars may be left at Einstein Brothers.
drive
•  From Phoenix, take Interstate-10 east to Tucson. Stay on I-10 to Willcox.
Get off at the Willcox exit (#340, 2nd exit) and go to your hotel.
It is about 240 miles from Phoenix to Willcox.
We will meet inside McDonald’s about 1 hour before sunset.
There is only one McDonald’s in Willcox.

updated December 1, 2023