Miller Canyon--Beatty's Guest Ranch

About Miller Canyon

See all hotspots at Miller Canyon

Among the most productive and accessible locations in the Huachucas are the east slope canyons within the Coronado National Forest: Miller, Carr, and Ramsey. Miller Canyon, south of Ramsey and Carr canyons, had usually been overlooked by birders until relatively recently.

This lovely canyon deserves more attention, particularly since it has hosted a fair number of rarities, including Flame-colored Tanager, Eared Quetzal, Rufous-capped Warbler, Crescent-Chested Warbler, Aztec Thrush, and Brown-backed Solitaire, as well as one of the most accessible pairs of Mexican Spotted Owls. At the end of Miller Canyon Road (2.6 miles from AZ-92), you’ll find a Forest Service parking area with trail access into the Miller Peak Wilderness Area. The trail is beautiful but steep, rugged, and damaged in places by flooding that followed the 2011 Monument wildfire. Side roads below the trailhead parking offer access to other less intimidating trails, some of which are still in development. As with other mountain sites, Miller Canyon is most productive for birding from April through September.

Just above the trailhead parking at the end of Miller Canyon Road is Beatty’s Miller Canyon Guest Ranch and Orchard. Long known to locals as a source of pesticide-free apples, eggs, honey, and beeswax, the orchard has become the hottest hummingbird-watching spot in Arizona. Owners Tom and Edith Beatty had long fed birds around their home and rental cabins, but in the spring of 1998, they added a hummingbird feeding station and hummingbird/butterfly garden for the enjoyment of day visitors. The payoff has been 15 species of hummingbirds (up to 13 at one time) plus an astonishing variety of naturally occurring hybrids. The Beattys have added bleachers, a picnic table, and a shade canopy to the Controlled Access Site (CAS) for visitors’ comfort.

Besides the high diversity of “regular” hummingbird species (including White-eared) plus occasional appearances by less reliable rarities (Lucifer, Berylline, and Plain-capped Starthroat), the feeding station is a dependable site for Rufous and Calliope in both spring and fall migration and occasional Allen’s in late summer. The Beattys also have several housekeeping units for rent, each with its feeders. Like other hummingbird hot spots, the Beattys’ feeding station is best visited from April through September. Parking on the Beattys’ property is limited to overnight guests and the handicapped, but there is plenty of shaded parking available in the Forest Service lot below (please park in developed spaces only, taking care not to block the Beattys’ driveway or the public road). The Beattys maintain a few hummingbird feeders at the main entrance (mainly for the benefit of mobility-impaired visitors). A fee of $5 per person, and $20 per group is charged for access to the CAS hummingbird feeding station inside the property. As with all privately-owned birding sites, please respect the privacy of the Beattys and their guests, and observe the rules for access to areas not normally open to the public.

Content from Miller Canyon Trail webpage and Miller Canyon birding (Tucson Audubon Society) webpage