Birding Tour USA: Northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon and Condors
Dates and Costs
25 – 30 August 2021
Spaces Available: 7
Price: $2,070 / £1,578 / €1,815 per person sharing.
Single Supplement: $380 / £290 / €333.
* Please note that these currency conversions are calculated in real-time, therefore are subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base prices when making final payments.
23 – 28 August 2022
Price: $2,174 / £1,657 / €1,907 per person sharing.
Single Supplement: $400 / £305 / €351.
23 – 28 August 2023
Price: $2,220 / £1,693 / €1,947 per person sharing.
Single Supplement: $405 / £309 / €395.
Duration: 6 days
Group Size: 4 – 8
Tour Start: Phoenix
Tour End: Phoenix
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog)
Personal expenses such as gifts
Featured Guide:Jacob Roalef
Birding Tour USA: Northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon and Condors
Immediately following our tour of the desert and scrublands of south-eastern Arizona, we begin our exciting adventure to the northern portion of the state. The area north of the Mogollon Rim, an escarpment that defines the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau, presents a completely different impression of Arizona with its extensive ponderosa pine forests, permanently snow-capped peaks, and steep canyons. The most famous of these canyons, the Grand Canyon, is one of the seven wonders of the natural world and is located in the amazing Grand Canyon National Park. The birds in this region are more typical of the Rocky Mountains, such as Lewis’s Woodpecker and Pinyon Jay.
One of the many amazing views of the Grand Canyon and surrounding area.
The tour begins with a taste of the desert and juniper scrub region just outside of Phoenix for a few speciality birds such as Black-chinned Sparrow. We then head north out of the desert to the city of Flagstaff, which will act as our hub for most of this tour. Towering just north of the city are the majestic San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountains in Arizona at 12,633 feet (3,851 meters). Home to a long list of iconic Western United States species, such as the amazingly hued Mountain Bluebird, the striking Steller’s Jay and the bizarre Clark’s Nutcracker, these mountains make for some fantastic birding. From Flagstaff, we will make trips further north to both the Grand Canyon and Vermilion Cliffs. Besides some of the most jaw-dropping views on the planet, these areas are excellent for birding with the true highlight and target being the Critically Endangered California Condor.
This tour can be combined with our Comprehensive Southeast Arizona — The Desert and Sky Islands tour which precedes our northern Arizona tour.
Itinerary (6 days/5 nights)
Day 1. Arrival in Phoenix and searching for lovebirds
For those joining from our exciting southeast Arizona tour, which you certainly do not want to miss, you will be transferred to Phoenix from Tucson by your guide to begin day 1. Other participants will arrive at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and be picked up by the rest of the group to begin the tour. Everyone should plan on transferring to our hotel for a small break and to settle in. From here, we will make a quick stop at one of several local recreation areas to get a little birding in and score our first target, Rosy-faced Lovebird, which is countable in the ABA region. After this, we will head off to dinner for a chance to get better acquainted and discuss the exciting prospects of the trip.
Day 2. Mount Ord to Flagstaff
Located in the Mazatzal Mountains northeast of Phoenix, Mount Ord offers us a great chance at several unique species, such as Grey Vireo and Black-chinned Sparrow. The lower slopes of this mountain, covered in chaparral and juniper scrub, can be alive with the song and bustle of birds early in the morning, and we will hopefully obtain views of some dry country specialties including Scott’s Oriole and Phainopepla. The Old Beeline Highway, our next stop, is a traditional site for two normally rare to uncommon raptors in the United States, Common Black Hawk and Zone-tailed Hawk. They nest in this lovely riparian area along Sycamore Creek, which runs right by the historic highway. While traversing through this beautiful drive, we will keep our eyes peeled to the sides of the road for a potential Greater Roadrunner or even a covey of Gambel’s Quails running by.
As the temperatures begin to climb, we say goodbye to the desert and start our journey towards the mountains in the north. Flagstaff is a lovely city riddled with urban parks, weaved together with a system of forest corridors and an extensive urban trail system, providing us with excellent birding areas to enjoy. The afternoon and evening hours will be spent exploring a few of these areas and hopefully tracking down some fantastic western species, such as the bizarre Lewis’s Woodpecker.
We hope to track down the incredibly colorful Lewis’s Woodpecker.
Day 3. Vermilion Cliffs and condor searching
Encompassing a massive area of almost 300,000 acres, the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument lies in the far northern reaches of Arizona. These cliffs have been the most reliable area in recent years for our top target and one of the world’s best birds, California Condor. We will spend the better part of the day, if needed, searching for this amazing bird while enjoying the incredible scenic views on offer. While scanning the cliffs, we hope to encounter a few other raptors like Peregrine Falcon and Zone-tailed Hawk. After a hopefully successful trip, we will head back to Flagstaff for some evening birding.
Day 4. Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon, carved by the mighty Colorado River, is visually overwhelming for both its immense size and colorful rock walls. We will make a day trip to the South Rim to enjoy this spectacular geological feature while also looking for several Great Basin targets. With any luck, we will score another sighting of California Condor, soaring and roaming the great abyss. On our way to and from the canyon, we will make a few stops in the surrounding Pinyon-juniper woodland habitat for species such as Pinyon Jay, Juniper Titmouse, White-throated Swift and more.
The brilliant color of this Western Bluebird really pops in the sunlight.
Day 5. San Francisco Peaks
Alpine meadows, groves of aspen and pine, and burnt fields of tree snags, create a habitat mosaic that offers an assortment of birds more typical of the Great Basin than of the Sierra Madre of Mexico (and barely into the USA), which we focus on in our southeast Arizona tour. We spend the day exploring this alpine mosaic habitat via several sites in the San Francisco Peaks for species such as American Dusky Flycatcher, Green-tailed Towhee, and Mountain Bluebird. We will also keep an eye out on the numerous tree snags for woodpeckers like the uncommon American Three-toed Woodpecker and the boldly patterned Williamson’s Sapsucker. In the late afternoon, we will make a visit to the Kachina Wetlands just south of town for Yellow-headed Blackbird and Virginia Rail, before preparing to head back to Phoenix for our final evening.
Day 6. Tour concludes
This morning concludes our northern Arizona tour with a drop off at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Some participants may have joined from our southeast Arizona tour and transport to the Tucson airport can be arranged if needed. We hope you enjoyed the amazing birds and spectacular views on offer in this region.
Please note that the itinerary above cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors.
Northern Pygmy Owl
Black-throated Grey Warbler
This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.