This feature is a reprint of a story that originally appeared in Arizona Wildlife Views.
Summer in Arizona’s high country offers abundant wildlife-viewing opportunities and pleasant weather. Early evening beckons hundreds of bull, cow and calf elk to Mormon Lake and Upper and Lower Lake Mary. In the White Mountains, you can glimpse elk herds in early morning or late evening feeding where trees meet open meadows.
You can spot pronghorn antelope throughout the day in the Anderson Mesa grasslands near Flagstaff and at the White Mountain Grasslands Wildlife Area.
Don’t forget to visit high-elevation spruce-fir and aspen forests. In the San Francisco Peaks, the Lamar Haines Memorial Wildlife Area is a great place to see songbirds. Visitors have a good chance of viewing mule deer and elk in the mornings and evenings.
High-country bird activity slows a bit from lively springtime activity, as nesting birds concentrate on family. It takes stealth to glimpse yellow-breasted chats and other birds in the willow riparian habitats at Wenima Wildlife Area near Springerville, Ariz. Belted kingfishers travel riverine corridors near Diamond Point Campground, the Joy Fish Hatchery and the Alchesay National Fish Hatchery.
Ospreys soar over many high-country lakes, their fishing forays an everyday occurrence. Red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds and numerous wetland species flock to lakes and ponds with cattails or other shallow vegetation.
Walk the Flagstaff Urban Trail System and find reptiles basking along the dark, basalt rock walls of the Rio de Flag. Watch for ground squirrels scurrying about looking for seeds and tender plants.
In the White Mountains, early July ushers in the southward migration of the rufous hummingbird. If you attend the annual High Country Hummers bird-banding event, held every July at Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area, you also may observe wildlife along Rudd Creek.
Start making plans now for an outdoor adventure in Arizona’s high country. The wildlife awaits.
—Joe Yarchin, Arizona Game and Fish Department watchable wildlife program manager