Saturday, March 5, 2011

Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, McNeal, AZ



After a couple hours of goodbyes to all our Lazy Daze friends, we left Benson yesterday and headed off with Debbie about 50 miles southeast to Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area. We had a great time at the get-together, but were ready to go somewhere quiet away from the road and train noise. Ed and Carol stayed here a couple weeks ago and recommended it. The one thing they failed to tell us about was the 2.5 mile washboard dirt road to get to the camping area. We had to drive under 5 mph to keep the rig from falling apart. Good thing Lazy Daze are well built.

This area used to be a ranch but is now managed by the Arizona Fish and Wildlife Dept, and attracts lots of birders due to the thousands of sandhill cranes that migrate here each winter. They allow overnight parking with a three night maximum stay in a small dirt lot. Ed said there are a couple other areas where you can camp but we didn’t look for them since we are the only ones here. There is no water but they do have vault toilets and a trash dumpster, and it’s free. And quiet. Except for the sound of the cranes.


We walked all the trails around the ponds and through the grasslands. Hundreds of sandhill cranes and some snow geese were hanging around in the afternoon.


There are a couple of nice viewing platforms with scopes to get a closer look.


Someone pointed out to us that there were some avocets in the water. They were beautiful birds and now we know what an avocet looks like.


We went back at sunset to watch more of the cranes come back for the night. It is quite a sight.




At 6:30 this morning Debbie and I bundled up (it was 24!) and went out to watch them take off but we were a little late and most were already on their way. Good thing Jim stayed in bed. He would not have been happy!

The best part of coming here has been watching the pair of great horned owls in the rafters of an old barn near our parking spot. We were lucky to see them fly off to hunt at dusk, and this morning the male entertained us with lots of hooting as he sat next to the female in the nest.



Southern Arizona is in store for high winds and cold nights the next few days so we are going to find someplace with hookups. We missed our electric heaters last night as we were kept awake by the propane furnace kicking off and on.

This is a pretty place to spend a night, though.



  1. Beautiful bird pics. Looks like we could find some serenity there!!

  2. I know what ya mean by that kickin' on and off business when its cold. With us when it gets cold, Nilda gets to kickin' me and a sayin. "I.M. would you please get another blanket for me, I'm cold."

    Looks to me like it don't matter whether you got a furnance or I got Nilda, we both gets wokened in the nite.

  3. Very nice photos. Looks like a restfull place...despite the washboard approach! Good thing you have an LD!