Central Arizona Butterfly Association

Phoenix Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association.

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Listed here are several great places in Central Arizona to look for butterflies


Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Boyce Thompson Arboretum is an easy to reach place where an abundance of plants, butterflies and birds can be found literally right next to the trail. It’s Arizona's oldest and largest botanical garden. September probably is the top month for butterflies, with 35 species easily found within a few hours. On 11 September 2010, during the CAzBA Butterfly Count, Marceline VandeWater found 44 species of butterflies in one day! This was a new record! What made the day even more exciting is that amongst them were 2 Hammock Skippers and 2 Boisduval’s Yellows. Regular daily admission of $24.95 for adults or $10 for ages 5-12 includes weekend events such as guided Butterfly Walks. Winter Hours: Oct. – April 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Summer Hours: May – September 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. read more »

Sunflower - Sycamore Creek and Mt Ord

Sycamore Creek at Sunflower is an excellent mid elevation riparian chapparral mix of Oak, Pinyon and Sycamore. Mt. Ord has a great Oak-Pine mix forest, and along the lower slopes has some good hilltoping areas of mixed chapparal. The turnoff to old hwy 87 is about 28 miles from the intersection of Shea and Hwy 87 (The Beeline) Other areas along hwy 87 to check include the turnoff to Four Peaks, about 15 miles from said intersection, it has good desert wash willow riparian habitat, the Ballantine Trail has excellent Sonoran desert habitat, and up the hill is a good place to look for hill-toppers. read more »

Garden Canyon - Sierra Vista

Garden Canyon, is a great butterfly spot in southeastern Arizona, where we can expect to see such specialties as Theona Checkerspot, Red-spotted Purple, Silver-spotted and Short-tailed Skippers and many more. Us Citizens only are allowed on Ft. Huachuca, so bring your valid US photo ID. For those driving on to the post you will need your driver's license, auto registration and proof of insurance to obtain a permit on the way into the base. read more »

Page Springs Fish Hatchery, Audubon Sanctuary and Bubbling Ponds.

Page Springs Fish Hatchery has a nature trail with signage describing its riparian habitat and wildlife and includes a pond and a stretch along Oak Creek. Two-tailed Swallowtail, several species of hairstreak (including "Siva" Juniper Hairstreak =pictured), Zela Metalmark, Cabbage White and many others have been spotted while visiting this place in mid April a couple of years ago. Birds and dragonflies are also well represented. A few parking spots are located south of the hatchery grounds and more parking is available at the hatchery itself. North of the fish hatchery, only a quarter mile up the road, is another great wildlife area called Bubbling Ponds... just continue on Page Springs Road past the curve and park on the left side (marked). read more »

Rackensack Canyon/Wash

Rackensack Wash is occupying a non-descript crack in the landscape just a few miles north of the golf communities of Cave Creek, Rackensack Wash retains an “old west” ambience. A 2005 wildfire swept through this part of the Tonto National Forest, but it’s amazing how fast the canyon’s vegetation is recovering. Although it’s kind of “out there” in terms of ease-of-access, Rackensack is no secret to butterfly watchers, birders, wildflower aficionados, equestrians and hikers alike. LENGTH: 3 miles roundtrip to the water tank; 5.40 miles roundtrip to Rackensack Springs. read more »

Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

The newest addition to Maricopa Countys Regional Parks System, the conservation area encompasses 2,154 acres of diverse, rugged upper Sonoran Desert. The north Valley location contains fascinating archaeology sites and lush riparian areas along Cave Creek, which flows throughout the winter months. Remnants of early mining and ranching, from which the park gets its name, are still apparent in the park. March is probably the best time of the year to visit, as the temperatures are nice, the creek is flowing and the seeps in the side canyon attract an array of butterflies. About 30 species in a few hours is not uncommon. A specialty found here is Wright’s Metalmark (pictured) attracted by Sweet Bush. read more »

The Colonel Devin Trail about 14 miles Northeast of Payson.

This is an excellent area to check out beginning in April till mid September. The trailhead sits at 6000 feet elevation and the trail goes up from there. When the weather gets warmer, the flowers start to bloom higher and higher in elevation. Butterflies follow this nectar flow “up the trail”. An abundant plant along the trail: Bergamot attracts lots of Fritillaries. Butterfly Weed and Arizona Thistle are also popular amongst the nectaring butterflies. Other butterflies (like Blues and Duskywings) are more interested in mudpuddling at one of the three springs. Yet another group of butterflies like California Sister, Satyr Comma and Weidemeyer’s Admiral are mostly found perched on trees. The trail is moderately steep in places. read more »

Sycamore Canyon, Santa Cruz Co.

On the border with Mexico, a beautiful remote canyon loaded with butterflies and birds runs South . It is about a 3 hours and 15 minutes drive from Phoenix, with the last 9 miles on a dirt road not allowing speeds faster than 25 mph. However: the proximity to Mexico makes it worth while the drive! Besides lots of regular butterflies and in particular an abundance of sulphurs, September and October has its share of rare influx species. Last year on the CAzBA fieldtrip, 2 Common Mestras were seen and on this past October fieldtrip, several White-striped Longtails and and an Elf (pictured) were discovered! read more »