Ticket reservations are required. Facial coverings are strongly recommended. See Health and Safety.
From Interstate 10, exit at Road Forks, New Mexico (Exit No. 5 onto Hwy 80. Note that coming from Tucson you may be routed to Portal via a mostly unpaved route out of San Simon rather than driving on to the Road Forks exit in New Mexico. During wet weather, this route may have low water crossings that could be impassable. The paved highway described below is about 20 miles longer and takes about 10 more minutes but is recommended in adverse conditions.)
The Southwestern Research Station is located at around 5400 feet elevation in riparian habitat, surrounded by oak-juniper-pinyon pine woodlands. Within a short drive up or down the Chiricahua Mountains, which reach nearly 9800 feet elevation, five life-zones can be encountered: Lower Sonoran, Upper Sonoran, Transition, Canadian, and Hudsonian.
Bio-geographically, the Chiricahua Mountains are located at a crossroads between distinct desert and mountain biotas. At lower elevations, species are influenced by both the Sonoran Desert to the west and the Chihuahuan Desert to the south and east. At higher elevations, there is a mixing of plants and animals from the Rocky Mountains, to the north and the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains of Mexico.
The uniqueness and diversity of the biota is well recognized by ornithologists, herpetologists, and entomologists. Cave Creek Canyon is also recognized as one of the top birding localities in the United States.