Coyote Mountains Wilderness

The Coyote Mountains Wilderness can be found southwest of Tucson in southern Arizona on approximately 5000 acres. This park is only a few miles east of Kitt Peak which has astronomical observatories at the top. The Wilderness is a detached mountain adjacent to the Baboquivari Mountains. and is the largest, and tallest section of the Coyote Mountains range. Topography includes sheer cliffs, open canyons and everything in between.

Plants here are mostly of the Sonoran Desert community in the lower areas: Paloverde, Giant Saguaro, oak woodlands as well as Mesquite, Ironwood, and Acacia.

In higher elevations, Silktassel, Mountain Mahogany, Buckthorn, Arizona white oak, Mexican pinyon, scrub oaks and Manzanita are present. The endangered plant Kearney’s Blue Star (Amsonia kearneyana) has been found here.

Interesting animals that you might find include Scaled Quail, Crested Caracara, Prairie Falcon, Golden Eagle, and Javelina. There have been several jaguar sightings in the last 15 years in the Baboquivari Mountains. Scientists believe that they travel back and forth between Mexico and the U.S.  


Blue Palo Verde

Mule Deer, Bighorn Sheep, and jackrabbits browse on the leaves.

Blue Paloverde in the desert

Saguaro Cactus

The Saguaro cactus is the largest cactus in the United States and enduring symbol of the southwest. It often uses Desert Ironwood as a nurse plant as protection from the sun and flash floods. At only six feet tall, it might be 70 years of age, and can live to be as much as 200 years old. Found only in the Sonoran Desert, it is an important food source for Sonoran Desert wildlife, including birds, javelina, coyotes, rodents and many others. Gila Woodpeckers and Gilded Flickers excavate holes in Saguaros for nests and once abandoned, provide nesting habitat for Elf Owls, House Finches, Purple Martins, Screech Owls, various species of sparrows and many others. Hawks build nests amongst the "arms" which may be used by other avian wildlife such as Great Horned Owls, Ravens and others. The fruit of this plant was a very important food source for the Papago and Pima indians who also used the ribs of dead plants as tools and for roofing. The fruit is still sourced today for jam and wine.

Saguaro Cactus in the desert

Desert Ironwood

Indicator species of the Sonoran Desert. Wood is extremely dense. The most important nurse plant in the Sonoran Desert region, in terms of shade, cooling for seedlings in summer heat, warmth during frosts, seeds that collect around the tree after flash floods, seed dispersal by the large number of species that seek shelter there. The tree can live to be 1,000 years old, though it rarely grows taller than 35 feet.

Desert Ironwood tree in the Eastern Mojave
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