While much of the country is recovering from winter weather (or still fending off snow flurries), Sierra Vista, Arizona is enjoying early summer and bright, sunny days, perfect for getting outdoors. And the soaring nearby Huachuca Mountains beckon!

 

Sierra Vista lies about 19 miles, as the crow flies, north of the Arizona-Mexico border, with the Huachuca Mountains skirting the line on the Arizona side. This range rises quickly from the valley floor to just over 9,000 feet. The highest peak, Miller Peak, is at 9,465 feet, is the highest, southernmost peak in the United States. The Huachuca’s steep rise and narrow valleys have created Sky Islands, diverse and unique ecosystems—among the most diverse in the world—that are geographically isolated by elevation and the distance to neighboring peaks.

And while “going south” is often connected with rising temperatures, Sierra Vista, at 4,633 feet, enjoys a comfortable climate all year long.

The interplay of geography and elevation make for killer photo opps at sunset with blasts of orange, pink, and purple banding across the Huachucas. Have your camera at the ready; the light changes quickly.

There is no better way to get acquainted with the Huachucas than participating in the second annual Sky Islands Summit Challenge on May 26. The Challenge is a great opportunity to discover the Huachucas while putting your mettle to the test. Take on one, two, or three peaks—all in one day—and enjoy knock-out views along the way.

 

Last year’s top time for the 18.1 mile triple summit challenge was 4:34:10, an amazing feat considering that the top time in the 10.8-mile single summit challenge was 5:24:55.

 

The Challenge begins around sun-up (and sunrise photos are just as awe-inspiring as sunsets). Transportation to the trailheads is provided. Challengers pass through unique ecosystems as they gain elevation, from grassy slopes to canopied forests. At the summits, exquisite, top-of-the-world views will make your shutter finger twitch, so stash a camera in your bag, along with an ample supply of H2O and snacks.

 

Round out the day at the Wine, Beer & Spirits Festival in the heart of Sierra Vista. Arizona is earning a reputation for excellent wine, and the majority of the state’s vineyards are within an hour or so of Sierra Vista.  The Festival will feature 15 or so wineries alongside Arizona’s microbrews and distilleries, plus some great music to keep things lively. Be sure to stick around through May 27 for the special brunch and winery tour, also with transportation provided.

 

Make Sierra Vista, Arizona your Memorial Day weekend destination. Get the details and start planning your trip at SipsAndSkies.SierraVistaAZ.gov.

 

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