The San Rafael Grasslands

This high grasslands area is reached by taking Harshaw Road east from the Patagonia Post Office. The road initially runs through mesquite and then oaks as it climbs, eventually emerging into a spectacular broad plain bordered by the Canelo Hills, the Huachuca Mountains and the Patagonia Mountains. Time needed to get here is roughly half an hour from the Post Office. The roads to and through the grasslands are dirt and can be very slippery if wet and muddy. Much of the land here is privately owned and SIGNS SHOULD BE OBEYED. Continuing on the network of roads can take you to Sonoita, Sierra Vista, or Nogales, scenically, albeit slowly.

This area is best for birding in the cooler months. Wind can be a problem at any time of year. Horned Larks and sparrows of many varieties abound. Drive the main road that runs east slowly and check the birds perched on the fences. Be wary of ranch and other traffic, which often travels at high speed.

Specialty birds wintering here include Baird's Sparrow, Sprague's Pipit, and Chestnut and McCown's Longspurs. Baird's and Sprague's can be extremely difficult to find. The longspurs can be cooperative, but are not guaranteed. Grasshopper Sparrows can be found year round.

A small pond just southwest of the first intersection as you enter the grasslands (a sign points to Lochiel) is a good place to sit and watch birds coming in to drink. You can take a small, rough turnoff that leads toward the pond. DO NOT PARK BY THE VACA CORRAL or within 1/4 mile of it.