Birding Hotspots Where to Go Birding

French Joe Canyon–Trail to Spring

Benson, Arizona 85602

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Cochise County

French Joe Canyon–trail to spring
Coordinates: 31.8163134, -110.4079628
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Birding in Arizona

About French Joe Canyon
The French Joe Canyon is located in the Whetstone Mountains in Cochise County, Arizona, between Benson and Sierra Vista just off of AZ-90. The Whetstone Mountains are part of the highly faulted Basin and Range Province which covers the southwestern half of Arizona and continues to the north and west into Nevada and western Utah (Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, August 1999). It is nestled in the Coronado National Forest, surrounded by Kartchner Caverns and Mine Canyon. The drive off AZ-90 to the parking area for the canyon is several miles and is not recommended for just any type of vehicle. The two-track road is not maintained, so it is the best to drive a vehicle with four wheel drive or at least one that is not too low to the ground. Once you reach the base of the mountain you will have to walk the trail to the canyon itself, but what a beautiful place to see. This canyon is one of the best places in the country to go birding, hiking, exploring, and camping. Named after a French prospector named Joe, which the legends name, Joe was looking for gold in the mountains and had discovered several nuggets but was later killed in a shootout where he was taken hostage by some Mexican bandits hiding from the law. French Joe was supposedly the only one killed in the battle.

The Whetstone Mountains have been known for the shootout at Mescal Springs where Wyatt Earp shot and killed Curly Bill. Here various fossils have been found in different formations.

The recently discovered Kartchner Caverns are located next to French Joe Canyon. French Joe Canyon is now becoming a popular hotspot for observing different types of birds and animal species in addition to the caves and hiking trails.

There are also small mine tunnels in the area.