birderfrommaricopa.com

Tommy J. DeBardeleben

Highway 180/191 (North of Springerville)

This area on U.S. Highway 180/191 north of Springerville takes on lower elevations within the White Mountains and much different scenery then the higher and forested areas.  Grasslands dominate the landscape while driving on this highway, and the locations that are birded here are made up of aquatic, riparian, grassland, rocky bluff, and juniper woodland habitat.  The Wenima Wildlife Area and Lyman Lake State Park are the two main birding locations for this area.  These two sites are very productive at all times of the year.  This is an area in the White Mountains where rare surprises may show up.  A local and established population of California Quail reside in this area, where it is the only place in Arizona where one can see this neat-looking gamebird.

Getting to the Highway 180/191 (North of Springerville) area:  From Springerville, head north on US 60/180 for 3.2 miles.  At the junctions of US 60 and US 180/191, take a slight right to get on US 180/191. 

Map Overview of Area:  For a simple overview on a Google Earth Map on the locations and roads mentioned on this text, click on the link here- Highway 180/191 (North of Springerville) Area Map

Wenima Wildlife Area:  A quarter mile north after merging onto US Highway 180/191 from US Highway 60, the turnoff for the Wenima Wildlife Area is on the right (east) side of 180/191.  This is a dirt road called Hooper Ranch Road.  Take Hooper Ranch Road down into the Wenima Wildlife Area for 1.4 miles and a parking area with restrooms will be found.  From here, one has three trail options to explore through this wildlife area.  One heads south immediately through the area adjacent to the parking area through a fence.  This is the easiest walk, and the path at this point can be followed for about a half mile.  From the parking area, walk shortly east to the other trails which border the Little Colorado River.  One is the Powerhouse Trail, which is accessed on the south side of Hooper Ranch Road after a bridge crosses the Little Colorado River.  Take this trail for close to a mile south.  The trail, the Beavertail Trail, is on the north side of Hooper Ranch Road and is just west of the Little Colorado River bridge crossing.  Beavertail runs for about 2 miles north along the river.  Just east of these trails on Hooper Ranch Road is private property and State Trust Land.  Don't go further east outside of the Wenima Wildlife Area limits.  Habitat at Wenima Wildlife Area consists of river riparian, some grassland (entrance road) and open fields, rocky bluffs, and juniper woodland at an elevation of 6700'.  This may be one of the best locations to hear or see California Quail in Arizona.  These quail were introduced in this area years ago as gamebirds and they have grown to a well established population.  Some of the other birds to keep an eye out for include Golden Eagle, Common Nighthawk, White-throated Swift, Lewis's Woodpecker, Pinyon and Western Scrub-Jays, Canyon Wren, Gray Catbird, Crissal Thrasher, Yellow-breasted Chat, Canyon Towhee, Blue Grosbeak, and Bullock's Oriole.  This area has great migrant potential and it serves as a great location for seeing irruptive species in winter such as Mountain Bluebird and Cassin's Finch.  Wenima Wildlife Area has hosted several great rarities over the years that have included Groove-billed Ani (Michael Clinton), Thick-billed Kingbird (Kurt Radamaker), and American Tree Sparrow.  To access a separate page on Wenima Wildlife Area that contains bird pictures and scenery pictures, a Wenima Wildlife Area hotspot page link for eBird, and maps of the area, click on the link here- Wenima Wildlife Area

County Road 4162 (Richville area):  After driving 8 miles north on U.S. Highway 180/191 from it's junction with U.S. Highway 60, make a right (east) turn onto Apache County Road 4162.  This area is within the Richville Valley, and it is a good location for the introduced but established California Quail.  After driving for about one mile on County Road 4162, the road crosses the Little Colorado River.  This section of the road is known to be productive for the Quail.  However, this is a tough location to bird due to the area being on private property on both sides of the road.  Walking along the road in early morning might produce a California Quail observation.  The speed limit along this paved road is 65 MPH, so beware that traffic comes very quickly.

Lyman Lake State Park:  Lyman Lake State Park is one of the best birding locations in the White Mountains for finding waterbirds, and it is one of the most interesting locations as well.  From the intersection of U.S. Highways 60 and 180/191, head north on Highway 180/191 for 15 miles to the turnoff for this state park on the east side of the highway.  At 6,000' in elevation, Lyman Lake holds habitats of open water, marsh, riparian, fields, shrubby and rocky areas, and juniper woodland.  This lake is 1,500 acres in size and is long and narrow in places as well as wide.  Lyman Lake was created as an irrigation reservoir which resulted by damming up the Little Colorado River.  The fee for this park is seven dollars.  As a State Park, Lyman Lake has many amenities that include a ranger station and market, restrooms, showers, picnic areas, boating and watersport access, playground, swimming areas, fishing, campgrounds, and cabins that may be rented.  The park even sells gas.  Many waterbirds have been seen on the lake throughout different time frames of the year that include waterfowl, herons, grebes, loons, gulls, terns, and shorebirds.  This is a location that is used heavily in migration and winter by these species and situations at this lake can change by the day.  Interesting waterbirds that have been found here have included Ross's Goose, Greater Scaup, Barrow's Goldeneye, Horned Grebe, Clark's Grebe, American White Pelican, Sanderling, Long-billed Curlew, Sabine's Gull, and Caspian, Black, Common and Forster's Terns.  Breeding birds in the area include Sora, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Western Screech-Owl, White-winged Dove, Common Nighthawk, Black and Say's Phoebes, Western Kingbird, Western Scrub-Jay, Horned Lark, Rock and Canyon Wrens, Lark and Black-throated Sparrows, Blue Grosbeak, and Bullock's Oriole.  At this park, there are many places to stop and scan the lake from when the lake is first accessed at the dam area and then all the way to the eastern side of the lake where there is shallower water and open mudflats.  There are also three trails at Lyman Lake State Park:  The 2-mile Buffalo Trail, the 1-mile Point Trail, and the short Pennisula Petroglyph Trail.  All three of these trails are worth exploring.  The Buffalo Trail goes through rocky and shrubby habitat with juniper woodland, while the others give good views of Lyman Lake and the surrounding area.  For more information on Lyman Lake State Park, a separate page on this website that contains pictures of the birds and locations, a link to the Lyman Lake hotspot page on eBird, and maps of Lyman Lake State Park, is available at the link here- Lyman Lake State Park

 

Back to White Mountain Birding Areas

Birding in Maricopa County

My online guide to the birds and birding locations of Maricopa County

 

The Maricopa County Big Year

Two Big Years I did in Maricopa County

 

Birding in Arizona's White Mountains

My online guide to Birding in Arizona's White Mountains