Nestled near the base of the Huachuca Mountains in picturesque Carr Canyon lies a small stone building.
For years, the house sat empty and degrading until it attracted the interest of a handful of people.
Instead of seeing a crumbling, dilapidated building, they saw it as something more. In their minds, they envisioned a Huachuca Mountain location where people could go for information about hiking, enjoy educational programs, view birds and wildlife and gain temporary respite from civilization’s cares. The visionary group also saw the house and setting as a quiet, Family-oriented retreat, where people could take a short hike around picturesque ruins, enjoy the sight and sounds of a waterfall backdrop during rainy season, and perhaps share a picnic lunch together.
With the encouragement and support of the Coronado National Forest Sierra Vista District ranger, in April 1996, a group of people formed to restore this unused stone house and explore ways of enhancing use and preservation of Huachuca Mountain habitat.
Hundreds of volunteer hours produced a gathering place now called Carr House. Nature studies and hikes for children started and through history programs, descendents of Arizona mountain and canyon pioneers share their stories.
The volunteer group, Friends of the Huachuca Mountains, evolved to play roles in conservation, education and hospitality. They operate out of the building.
Once there, in addition to hiking information and maps, visitors can get water and visit with members of the group who staff the house on weekends from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. from late spring through early fall.
Inside, Families can enjoy educational displays which focus on area rocks and minerals, native grasses, tree rings, the fire cycle and local wildlife.
Across the parking lot, people can hike an easy .6-mile nature trail around the ruins of an old ranch house, a haven for artists who are frequently seen sketching or painting in this picturesque setting.
Picnic tables offer diners an outdoor experience in a safe environment. Others enjoy nature-watching experiences or peaceful reading at the same tables.
Every other Sunday, from late spring through early fall, special nature-related programs are offered to the public at no charge (see schedule below). There is no charge, but donations are welcome.
The Carr House is fully accessible and complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Directions to the Carr House: From Sierra Vista travel south on State Route 92 to Carr Canyon Road (at the Mesquite Tree Restaurant). Turn right (west). Drive about 2.1 miles up the road. Carr House is on the left through a gate.
For more information, go to www.huachucamountains.org/.
Sunday afternoon programs — 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, Father’s Day: “Hooray for Herps — Snakes, Lizards and More!” — Local herpetologist Tom Miscione will help visitors learn not to fear these members of the local ecosystem. His many live specimens let the audience get up close to a diverse number of snakes and lizards. This program for all ages is always popular; be sure to come early and bring lawn chairs.
June 29: “A Fat Bear is a Healthy Bear” — Judy Phillips, environmental educator, will present a hands-on Family oriented presentation which will familiarize participants with the basic needs of the black bear and its habitat in the Huachuca Mountains.
July 13: “Hummingbirds: More than Just Eye Candy” — Sheri Williamson, director, Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory, will describe “singing” feathers, streamlined genomes, and continent-spanning migrations that rank hummingbirds among the world’s most amazing birds.
July 27: “Arizona National Scenic Trail: Latest Updates” — Matthew Nelson, Arizona Trail executive director, will talk about the history of the trail, the natural resources that make it unique, and its importance to local communities like Sierra Vista. The trail spans the entire length of the state from the U.S./Mexico border to the Utah state line and features some of the state’s most spectacular (and lesser known) areas, including the Huachuca Mountains.
August 10: “Road to Restoration: the Gould’s Turkey” — John Millican, National Wild Turkey Federation, will update the efforts of the National Wild Turkey Federation, volunteers and partners to re-introduce the Gould’s turkey into southeastern Arizona. He will discuss local and regional efforts, habitat enhancement projects and funding sources.
August 24: “Butterflies of the Huachuca Mountains” — Priscilla Brodkin, co-author of “The Butterflies of Arizona: A Photographic Guide,” will show the audience how to add a new dimension to field trips and backyard nature watch through basic butterfly identification. She will also cover defense mechanisms, food and nectar plants, and basic butterfly gardening.
September 7: “Caves and Caving: A Look into the World Below Us” — Erika Way, Kartchner Caverns State Park cave unit supervisor, will focus on the beauty and fragility of cave environments and how to enjoy them while taking care to protect them. She will discuss the differences between ‘wild’ and ‘show’ caves along with general dos and don’ts of caving.
September 21: “Insects: Can’t Live Without Them” — Jane Chambers, environmental educator, will showcase the positive ways insects have influenced modern society and the reasons they are so important. Get down and dirty while safely observing insect activity.
October 5: “Photographing Nature in the Huachuca Mountains” — Bob Herrmann, nature photographer, takes the audience through basic fixed lens digital camera settings and equipment used to produce quality nature photographs.
October 26: “Dia de los Muertos Celebration” — Mike Foster, videographer and Carr House host, will describe how the Aztec/Catholic holiday, Day of the Dead, is celebrated in cemeteries just across the international border. Learn more about this holiday through traditional breads and beverages with accompanying videos.