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Birding Around the Rustler Park Area
Birding Around Las Vegas, Favorite Places Far Away
Rustler Park
Rustler Park
Rustler Park meadow

Overview

Rustler Park and Barfoot Park are high-elevation sites in the Chiricahua Mountains, accessible seasonally by graded dirt roads. Note that in this area "park" means "meadow;" the areas could be called Rustler Meadow and Barfoot Meadow.

The adventure starts with the drive, not with the arrival, as birding along the access roads can be very productive. The high-elevation areas are now a fire-altered landscape, and time will tell how the mountain birds respond, but look for Mexican Chickadee, Yellow-eyed Junco, Red-faced Warbler, Olive Warbler, Red Crossbill, and Band-tailed Pigeon.

Link to Rustler Park Map.
Rustler Park
Rustler Park fire station

Rustler Park, proper, is a wildland fire station with a campground (closed due to hazard trees from wildfire) in a ponderosa pine forest. The campground is located near the crest of the mountains, and foot trails lead north and south from the campground along the crest of the mountains. Birding around the fire station and houses can be quite productive and less adventuresome than hiking the trails.

Rustler Park, proper, is closed to vehicles. At the gate, park by the restrooms on the left and walk into the area. The campground, on the right, is closed to all entry because of the many, standing dead trees.

Rustler Park
Good road signs

Getting to Rustler Park

The Rustler Park area is accessible from Portal (via Portal Road) and from Chiricahua National Monument via Pinery Canyon Road. Both roads are steep and winding, not suitable for longer vehicles or trailers, but generally okay for sedans after the snow melts and the roads have been graded. Inquire locally about road conditions.

Driving uphill on either road, continue to Onion Saddle at the crest of the mountain range. Don't, however, be in a hurry. Drive slowly and listen for birds singing in the trees. Birding along the roads can be profitable, and especially keep an eye out for Montezuma Quail in the Pine-Oak woodlands.

Rustler Park

At Onion Saddle, turn south following signs towards Rustler Park. Continue 1.6 miles to a fork in the road. Stay left to Rustler Park, or turn right to Barfoot Park. Staying left, continue 0.8 miles to a gate blocking vehicle entry into the campground and fire station area. Turn left into a large parking area with a vault toilet.

Walking up the road, pass the gate and check the Lower Rustler Spring area on the left. On the right side of the road, signs ask visitors to stay out of the campground area. Shortly, walkers pass the Rustler Park Meadow on the right (just past the campground). Staying left on the road, walkers wander into the fire station area. Staying south (left-ish) past the fire station, an old road continues south.

Rustler Park
The road can be smooth and easy to drive

Getting to Barfoot Park

Barfoot Park is located north of Rustler Park.

From Onion Saddle, drive south 1.6 miles to a fork in the road. Turn right and drive about 0.6 miles to the top of a steep hill. Most drivers will stop here, but others continue down the steep hill. The road ends (another 0.4 miles) at the bottom edge of Barfoot Meadow. Barfoot Meadow is watered by Barfoot Spring.

Snow tends to linger on these north-facing slopes, so Barfoot Road can be snowed in or wet and muddy long after other roads are dry.

Cave Creek Road
Cave Creek Road above Portal
Cave Creek Road
Good road signs
Southwestern Research Staion
Passing turn to Southwestern Research Station
Pine-Oak Woodlands
Road in Pine-Oak Woodlands
Rustler Park Rustler Park
Cave Creek Road
Expansive views from along the road
Cave Creek Road
Looking down into the South Fork area
Cave Creek Road
Approaching the road to Paradise
Cave Creek Road
Spring snows linger on north-facing slopes
Cave Creek Road
Shrubby brushlands at mid-elevation
Cave Creek Road
Entering the burn area
Onion Saddle
Approaching Onion Saddle
Onion Saddle
Onion Saddle road sign
Rustler Park Road
Rustler Park Road
Rustler Park
Rocky outcrop north of parking area
Rustler Park
Lower Rustler Spring near gate and parking area
Rustler Park
Lower Rustler Spring
Rustler Park
Rustler Park Campground sign (campground to the right)
Rustler Park
Rustler Park Campground sign (meadow in background)
Rustler Park
Burned campground info sign
Rustler Park
Campsite in fire zone
Rustler Park
Campground (right) and meadow (left). Live trees in background
Rustler Park
Campsite in fire zone
Rustler Park
Campsite in fire zone
Rustler Park
Road towards Rustler Park Fire Station
Rustler Park
Lingering snow in Rustler Park Fire Station area
Rustler Park
Partially burned area along road past fire station
Rustler Park
Partially burned area along road past fire station
Rustler Park
Partially burned area along road past fire station
Rustler Park
Birding the burned area
Rustler Park
Burned forest
Barfoot Park
Yellow-eyed Junco
Rustler Park
Big coyote track!
Rustler Park
Lots of wildflowers, including the wild violet
Rustler Park
Small cactus growing atop the mountains
Barfoot Park
Barfoot Park plaque: National Historic Landmark
Barfoot Park
Barfoot Park Meadow
Barfoot Park
Barfoot Park meadow (Buena Vista Peak in background)
Barfoot Park
Lookout on Buena Vista Peak (view from Barfoot Park meadow)
Barfoot Park
Moonrise over Buena Vista Peak
Barfoot Park
Keep an eye out for the maker of this large cat-track
Pinery Canyon Road
Descending Pinery Canyon Road
Pinery Canyon Road
Descending Pinery Canyon Road
Pinery Canyon Road
Descending Pinery Canyon Road
Pinery Canyon Road
Descending Pinery Canyon Road
Pinery Canyon Road
Descending Pinery Canyon Road
Pinery Canyon Road
Low on Pinery Canyon Road, approaching Chiricahua Nat. Mon

Happy birding! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130504

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