Our Interns’ Favorite Spots in the Sonoran Sky Islands

Toward the end of their time in our binational internship program, we asked Elizabeth, Miguel, and Ángel​ about their favorite spots in the Sonoran Sky Island region. Months of searching for springs and tracking wildlife data introduced them to several incredible places—some in their own backyards.

As you read their submissions, we hope their descriptions take you on a visual journey to some of the most beautiful and biologically diverse areas in Sonora. We certainly can’t wait to visit these places ourselves someday!

Elizabeth Solis Pereida: Agua Caliente los Hoyos, Cumpas

For me, a place that I can now call special and beautiful that I didn’t know before is Agua Caliente, located in the town of Los Hoyos, Cumpas. Thanks to the springs project that I carried out during the internship with Sky Island Alliance, I was able to get to know this place.

After arriving at the town, you have to travel several kilometers. From where the car could not move further, it was five kilometers on foot with high hills. We knew that we almost reached this place because we could hear a stream in the distance. When we finally got there, we realized that it was worth the walk because the place was very beautiful, very colorful, and with crystal clear and warm waters.

We walked a little more. At the top there were rocks, and if we walked further perhaps we could find the source of the stream. At the bottom there were also more springs and a nearby wetland, but sadly there were mining slides with very orange waters.​

We found some rocks a short distance away where a small spring with stagnant waters developed, which we recorded for Sky Island Alliance. It has wide vegetation including the Mezquite and false junco, among others. For fauna, there were frogs, aquatic bugs, etc. [in the water.]

Unfortunately, we could not stay long, but I have it considered [going back] when we can. In my opinion I think Agua Caliente is a very important place for people, although now it is sustenance for the cattle, perhaps it is also sustenance for the people. It is also a tourist attraction that benefits the people.

Related Reading: Get to Know Elizabeth

Miguel Francisco Enriquez Galaz: The Family Ranch

“My family’s ranch” is my favorite place to explore, get to know nature, and enjoy the scenery by sharing moments with my family.

My name is Miguel Francisco Enriquez Galaz, son of a livestock father, member of an ejidatarios group of the municipality of Agua Prieta, Sonora. My father, being a member of the Rusbayo ejido, spends most of his time on his ranch doing field activities. Often my mother, sisters and I accompany him to this place—where I have had great experiences with my family interacting with nature.

In this place predominates a semi-desert ecosystem that is characterized by the presence of xerophilic vegetation. We can find plants such as nopales, mesquites, choyas, ocotillos, governor, among other shrub plants. In the lower parts of the terrain where the streams run mainly in rainy season, you can observe river vegetation such as alder, maroon walnut, maroon grape, and poplar. There are also two springs that supply water for most of the local wildlife, but their main use is in livestock-related activities. These water sources remain throughout the year which help the development of the surrounding vegetation, increasing natural beauty.​​

I have had the opportunity to capture most of these species through trap camera photographs thanks to the FotoFauna project developed by Sky Island Alliance. In the autumn-winter season, I like to tour the area where the alders are located because I love the change in the coloration of this type of trees and how the soil is covered with leaves.

In this place I like to go for a walk accompanied by my younger sister, taking the opportunity to know and admire nature and take photographs of the landscape and interesting living beings that we find during the tour. The best time to find more diversity of living things is in summer, when streams run, plants green, and the field is filled with flowers, and the presence of insects, reptiles and other living things increases.

Related Reading: Get to Know Miguel

Ángel​ Octavio Garcia Godinez: Sierra Madre Occidental Region

Looking for springs, I met extraordinary places in Sonora, Mexico. Are you ready to meet them?

My name is Ángel Octavio Garcia Godinez, I am 23 years old and am a student of the Bachelor of Biology degree at the University of La Sierra de Moctezuma, Sonora, Mexico. In 2020 I participated in the Sky Island Alliance summer internship, where I decided to continue my winter stay project.

In developing my project, I had the opportunity to explore and travel with my family a wonderful route surrounded by beautiful and interesting landscapes of great biological, paleontological, tourist, and cultural importance in Sonora, Mexico, while searching for and evaluating springs.

Angel’s route from Esqueda to Sierra del Tigre.


The route starts in Esqueda, Sonora, a village located in the Sierra Madre Occidental region at the point (30.722357, -109.575374) and ends in the Sierra del “El Tigre” (a Sky Island belonging to the Madrense Archipelago) located at the point (30.657146, -109.174348). This route is located within the municipalities of Fronteras, Nacozari and Bavispe, Sonora.

In the lower part of this area, you can see vegetation of desert scrub combined with grasslands and river vegetation. Oak forests, pine-oak forests, and beautiful pine forests predominate the upper part of this area.

The transition between these ecosystems helps the existence of a great diversity of living beings with high variety of invertebrates, very common species of mammals, such as coatí, white-tailed deer, wild boar, squirrels, raccoons, and skunks. Even less common and more important species live here, such as the jaguar, black bear, golden eagle, bald eagle, prairie puppy, beaver, otter, Mexican spotted owl, porcupine, and salamanders, among other species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians that have some category of protection.

At the beginning of the tour, you will find places that in the past were habitat of dinosaurs; there are trails where more than 40 fossilized traces of duck beak hadrosaur have been recorded on rock soils. You can also find tectonic structures, rock failures and vestiges of plant structures.

The beauty of the scenery in this place is very impressive. It is characterized by being a mountainous area where you can see incredible cliffs and rock channels that have been formed by the streams of water that come down from the upper parts of the mountains or by the water of springs that run permanently in the area, which is also the main source of water for wildlife and river vegetation that is very representative of the place.

On this route you will also find the “Rancho Agua Caliente,” a beautiful place that has important hot springs, which reach very high temperatures and a high level of minerals. Very close to this place you will see traces of cave paintings that were created by ancient indigenous groups.

This route is divided by the dam “La Angostura,” a very important place for the economy of a group of fishermen from the village of Esqueda. In this beautiful place, you can do recreational activities such as sport fishing, boating, and camping.

In the mountains of “El Tigre,” which is located at the top of this route, you will see stunning landscapes of pine trees and beautiful natural views towards the lower parts of the mountains. In this place you will find the ruins of a village and its temple, which is still frequently visited by elderly people who were settlers of this place. Mining was currently reactivated, and this is expected to be a project with a long future.

I invite you to protect these wonderful places; preserving natural resources, respecting areas of paleontological and cultural importance, making rational use of natural water sources and caring for all living things that live here, in order to continue enjoying and interacting with this natural beauty for many more years.

Related Reading: Get to Know Ángel