While it’s certainly not news to anyone that Arizona has some spectacular natural views, often visitors don’t realize how truly unique the flora and fauna of the state are. The Southwest as a whole has some pretty amazing animals, but due to the geography of Arizona, many unique species can only be found within the state’s borders.
One of these is the Sonora tiger salamander. While the species is similar to tiger salamanders found across North America, many generations of being contained within the San Rafael Valley led to the salamanders of Arizona morphing into a separate subspecies. In fact, the Sonora tiger salamander wasn’t even identified until 1949, where it was discovered living in a stock tank at the J.F. Jones Ranch.
Cattle tanks across the valley have provided an excellent habitat for these animals, although they also live in springs and backwater pools throughout the area. One cool aspect of the critters, however, is that the populations of this animal can either be land and water-based, or entirely aquatic, with the bodies of the salamanders undergoing different changes in their life cycle depending on their environment.
Those looking to see a Sonora tiger salamander in the wild should seek out hikes around the San Pedro and Santa Cruz river drainages in the San Rafael Valley and surrounding mountains. While they may be hard to spot, they are amazing to witness out in nature.
Whether you are looking for unique animals or breathtaking views, Arizona has something for everyone. There are plenty of things to do in cities like Phoenix and Scottsdale, and in just a short drive you can be surrounded by nothing but nature. Whether you are looking to go hiking, kayaking, or driving an ATV in the desert, be sure to look into the amazing tour companies offering experiences across the state!