Sabbatical Ranch is located in the beautiful San Pedro River Valley near the headwaters of the river. Surrounded by five mountain ranges, known locally as "sky islands" because of their unique climates, flora, and fauna compared to the deserts around them, the valley is a high desert. Sabbatical Ranch sits about 4300 feet above sea level.
As you can imagine, there are numerous hiking trails and other outdoor activities. With four seasons of temperate weather compared to the lower desert that is usually 10-15° hotter, it's easy to enjoy the hummingbird capital of the world. The Arizona Trail begins here and ends on the opposite border of the state after going through Grand Canyon National Park. And don't forget nearby Kartchner Caverns State Park or the San Pedro National Riparian area.
There's a lot of interesting history found here as well. Some examples include Coronado National Memorial, Fort Huachuca (still an active Army base), the Apache Wars and Cochise Stronghold, and historic Tombstone, site of the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral (still there) which offers ongoing live reenactments in the heart of this old mining town. Sierra Vista ("mountain view" in Spanish), Tombstone, and Bisbee are all a short drive from Sabbatical Ranch.
Spectacular sunrises, sunsets, and dark skies with crystal clear views of the Milky Way in the midst of innumerable brilliant stars - these are all reminders of the Creator's amazing handiwork. This part of the state is home to numerous massive telescopes (one owned by the Vatican) and observatories that take advantage of the clear night sky.
Hunter Creek flows through Sabbatical Ranch just a few miles before it flows into the San Pedro River. Neither of these watercourses flow year round. Monsoon rains during the second half of the summer run off the desert ground fairly quickly and then run downstream.
There's so much to appreciate about this area you'd think it was all rainbows and butterflies! There are plenty of both of those, but there's also some things that lots of people don't like.
Chiggers, Kissing Bugs, Black Widows, Scorpions, Tarantulas, and Rattlesnakes!
Hot and humid monsoon season brings out lots of creepy critters! We've dealt with just about all of them. I already wrote about getting stung by the most lethal scorpion in Arizona. Here are a couple of other examples.
We were outside visiting a neighbor a few months ago. She tipped over a bin and found a very large tarantula underneath. She reached down and waved one hand behind him while positioning her other hand in front of him. He walked right up her arm as she calmly explained how friendly they are this time of year. Around August and September they can get aggressive. If they rear up on their hind legs when you wave at them, you best leave them alone. Their bite isn't any more poisonous than other average spiders, but they can also release hairs from their belly that float into the air and can severely irritate your eyes.
Rattlesnakes were about the scariest thing around here. We've now had several run-ins and they act just as scared as we are. They spend their time hunting rodents and basking in the sun. They don't hunt humans and couldn't eat you if they wanted to. About the only time someone gets bit by a rattlesnake is because the person is antagonizing it or they accidentally walk right into it. You have to pay attention where you're going and keep an ear open for rattles (their warning if you're getting close) because their bites can be deadly.
Why We Chose This Valley
While there are pros and cons to every place, the fact that this valley is one of the best places in the country to avoid toxic mold is our #1 reason for choosing it as the location for Sabbatical Ranch. We've met a number of other people who have come here for health reasons and others who have specifically found relief from Mold Toxin Illness here. The reason why is revealed by this map.
Mold thrives when humidity is between 50-100% in temperatures between 74-90°. We're in the blue zone on the map with average annual humidity between 36-45%. This is ideal! Lower and the dryness causes other problems; higher and toxic mold grows in all the dark moist places with sources of food such as dust, or it's favorite: cellulose (ie. wood products [eg. paper, cardboard, particle board], which is what most buildings are built and filled with [eg. sheetrock's paper backing]). Air conditioned buildings are particularly vulnerable because of condensation inside walls caused by the interior/exterior temperature differences. Constant condensation is like gasoline on a fire, allowing mold to grow like crazy.
High humidity is the other bad part about monsoon season. It's the only time of year that humidity climbs above 50% just about every day. There were numerous occasions we didn't feel so good over the past few hot rainy months, especially when going to town. But even on the ranch we seemed to get hit by some environmental toxins a few times, usually only when there was very little wind. Undoubtedly there were mycotoxins spewing into the air someplace not far away that weren't being dissipated by the normal desert winds.
Fall and spring are the best times to visit this area, but it also gets its share of sun-birds who stay all winter. Summers aren't as enjoyable with a month or so of dry scorching heat followed by two or three months of hot and humid monsoons. There's no such thing as heaven on earth. We just do the best we can here and look forward to our eternal reward.
Dedicated Christian, patriot, family man, founder of Sabbatical Ranch