Tommy J. DeBardeleben

Highway 188-Other Birding Locations

This area will include birding locations on the west side of Highway 188 when the highway is adjacent to Roosevelt Lake.  At the point to where it goes south of Roosevelt Lake, the locations will be on both sides of Highway 188 toward to south and closer to Globe.  Locations here will include the Tonto National Monument, Apache Lake, El Oso Road, and more.  Habitat diversity will span far and will go from Sonoran desert to pine and oak forest in Transition Zone at the Four Peaks Recreation Area.  There are plenty of locations that need to be explored and surveyed, and this area will be a major work in progress until they are explored. 

Directions:  Because these locations are accessed from Highway 188, directions according to mileage driven will be given from the north side of Highway 188 and driving south from the Highway 188 and Highway 87 junction, and the southern side of Highway 188 will have directions given if driving north on 188 from the city of Globe.


-El Oso Road and Four Peaks Wilderness Area: This road is on the west side of Highway 188 across the street from A-Cross Road, 20.5 miles south of the intersection of Highway 188/Highway 87 and 44 miles north of Globe at the southern base of Highway 188.  It goes up to the Mazatzal Mountains toward the Four Peaks Wilderness Area.  El Oso Road is what is said to be a well-maintened dirt road for that goes for a length of 8.5 miles to it's junction with Pigeon Spring Road.  During these 8.5 miles, El Oso Road goes through elevation changes that feature habitats of desert scrub, chaparral, juniper, and pine and oak forest.  From the El Oso Road/Pigeon Spring Road intersection, head north on El Oso Road for up to ten miles.  This road takes one through chaparral and juniper on it's open and dry landscape before dropping down onto cooler north-facing slopes that thick pine and oak forest.  Other than a few branch off roads that veer east into Gila County that hold what looks to be great patches of forest habitat, the landscape shortly to the west of El Oso Road is Maricopa County.  Although this is an area worth exploring, do not take El Oso Road past it's intersection with Pigeon Spring Road without a jeep or vehicle with GREAT clearance; the road is horrible past this point.  From the intersecton of El Oso and Pigeon Spring Road, head south (left) on Pigeon Spring Road for one mile.  Stay left at the fork (which is an intersection with FR 401: which is a 20 mile dirt road up to Four Peaks from Highway 87, all in Maricopa County), and continue for another 1.4 miles to the Lone Pine Trailhead.  Pigeon Spring Road lies in Gila County, but shortly to the west of Pigeon Spring Road (stone throw distance) is Maricopa County.  Trails from Lone Pine Saddle traverse up toward the steep summit of Four Peaks, at which stand at elevations of 7,657' on the tallest-of-the-Four Brown's Peak.  Look for species of pine and oak forest in this area, as there are some remnants of good forest after a fire burned much of the area in the past.  The Brown's Trail # 133 (eBird hotspot), which is a fun trail to hike on for about a mile, goes back and fourth between Maricopa and Gila Counties.  The western slopes fall in Maricopa County and to the east is the majority of Gila County.  This route of El Oso Road could desperately use eBird data, and from descriptions, most of the road is suitable for most vehicles to drive on. 

-Three Bar Wildlife Enclosure:  This is a 9.2 mile loop drive and a fenced off park and wildlife refuge that has Upper Sonoran desert and chaparral habitats.  It is worth birding and exploring for other wildlife if in the Roosevelt Lake area.  To get to this area, Forest Road 647 has the northern side of it's loop road on the west side of Highway 188 (just north of the Cholla Campground Entrance on the east side of Highway 188), and Forest Road 647's southern side of it's loop is about 0.75 miles further south on the west side of Highway 188 (just south of the turnoff to Cholla Bay).  FR 647 is 26 miles south from the Highway 188/Highway 87 intersection and is 38 miles north of Globe.

-Apache Lake:  Head south on Highway 188 from the Highway 188/Highway 87 intersection for 32 miles to the Apache Trail/Highway 88, or head north for 33 miles on Highway 188 from Globe to the Apache Trail/Highway 88.  Turn left (west) onto the Apache Trail and follow this dirt road (which is in good shape over the eastern-most miles of it's length) for about six miles to the turnoff for Burnt Corral Campground, which is a right turn in the western direction.  The Salt River and Apache Lake adjacent west to Burnt Corral Campground are in both Gila and Maricopa Countys; with Gila taking up the northern and western half of the river and lake and Maricopa taking up the southern and eastern half.  South of Burnt Corral Campground the waters are in Maricopa County completely.  This section of Apache Lake and the Salt River are worth birding for Gila County.  Waterbirds congregate here, and this is the best location in Gila County to see numbers of Common Goldeneye.  Barrow's Goldeneye is an increasing winter visitor in Maricopa County, perhaps checking Goldeneye in winter here will turn up Gila County's first Barrow's.  Gila County's second record of Red-necked Grebe was recently found here (Ryan O'Donnell and Troy Corman). 

-Tonto National Monument:  On the west side of Highway 188, Tonto National Monument ($10 fee required) is a fun place to visit and observe ancient cliff dwellings and it is as also a good place to bird in Upper Sonoran desert.  The Monument also has some riparian areas within it's midst near the visitor center.  This location is 35 miles south of the Highway 188/87 intersection off of Highway 188, and about 30 miles north of Globe traveling on Highway 188. 


Back to Gila County Birding Areas

Birding in Maricopa County

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


Birding in Gila County

An online guide to Gila County Birding


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