The San Pedro Riparian NCA is an amazing (but threatened) place. In early April, approaching it on any of the roads that cross it near Sierra Vista, you can see clearly why the river's water is so important: a narrow strip of bright green appears in the otherwise tawny landscape. You can view the river and surroundings from any of these crossings, but probably the best place to explore it is at the San Pedro House on Hwy 90.
The house is a 1930s ranch house now serving as a nice little visitor center and bookstore operated by the Friends of the San Pedro River. Outside are a few bird feeders and labeled plants. Get a trail map there. Several mostly-flat trails leave from the house, including a very short one to a huge old cottonwood that is worth seeing. But perhaps the best is a loop trail that leads to and through the riparian forest along the river and around a small pond. Lots of birds and turtles (possible rattlesnakes, too, so watch your step). In early April, you could encounter a vast number of tent caterpillars in the cottonwoods and coating the trail and other objects. But they don't last long, so the docents at the house told us. Take water, a snack - and your time! And if you see what look like turkey vultures overhead, check closely. One turned out to be a zone-tailed hawk!
See it soon because a humungous residential development is planned between the river and Sierra Vista that, unless modified, will surely impact the groundwater that keeps the river flowing.
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