Going to Whitewater Draw

Monday, January 25, 2021

Whitewater Draw. 
A place I had never heard of before, (and I’m still not entirely sure how Huntly found) that is filled with hundreds of sandhill cranes! 
In Arizona? You may ask.
Yes! Strangely enough, a ways past Bisbee and there it is, a wetland filled to the brim with cranes. 
And since it’s still the times of COVID, I figured I’d put together a little day-trip guide of some things I think you should do on your way to and from the most cranes you’ll probably ever see in your life. 

From Tucson, Whitewater Draw is about an hour and forty-four minutes away without stops. Based on if you're a morning or afternoon sort of traveler I suggest you stop in Bisbee either on your way there or on your way back.

Given that we got a late start to the day, we decided to catch the cranes coming home to roost for the evening, and so stopped by Bisbee first to ward off any hangry Huntly's that may rear their ugly heads if not properly fed. You can also check the live cam offered on the Whitewater Draw site, and get some information on when would be best for you to go as well.

If you're going to eat in Bisbee I could not more highly recommend eating at Thuy's Noodle Shop. In fact, I aggressively suggest going there. There are no other good restaurants at all. It's your only option. So there.
Okay, okay there are many other restaurants, but Thuy's is going to be the best curry or pho that you've probably ever eaten, so you need to go there. (There are also many vegan options to chose from on the menu.) They offer both takeout, and distanced outdoor eating. We chose the latter, taking a seat in the patio area, away from any living souls. Just remember that if you do choose to eat outside, please put your masks back on your face whenever a server comes to your table. Let's be safe.

If you for some inexplicable reason Thuy's doesn't sound good to you, Bisbee's Table offers some classic Americana dishes and great cocktails. My favorite things there are the drunken mushroom appetizer and the copperman pasta. Their indoor dining is not distanced in a way I would consider safe at this moment, so I suggest you order to-go if you choose to dine with them.

Fresh rolls with signature peanut sauce from Thuy's. Delicious. Order them. Perfectly refreshing, and unlike traditional peanut sauce, theirs has a bit of a kick to it, which elevates the dish and contrasts the freshness of the roll nicely.

The curry. Made fresh daily and so warm and toasty it'll perk you right up on a chilly day. We ordered one chicken, and one vegan with tofu. Both were mind-blowingly good. Please eat this and message me immediately. 

Coco's order is suitably 4 years old, and is a side of white rice and a bowl of broth. They obliged kindly and I won't lie, I wanted to steal her broth for myself. It was so fatty and rich, in the best possible way. When we were ready to go we punched a straw hole in the lid of a to-go bowl and Coco happily sipped her broth as we popped next door to the High Desert Market and Cafe to grab some of our favorite lemon bars. 

If you're in more of a peckish mood it's the place I would most recommend for some yummy pastries. For a coffee or chaider (chai mixed with cider, you will thank me later) I recommend Bisbee Coffee Co. 
If you find a place you think is phenomenal let me know and I'll check out sometime!

Okay let's talk cranes! From Bisbee it's a short drive to get to Whitewater Draw. The last part of the drive is down a dirt road, but don't let this deter you! It's extremely flat and well maintained. My little SUV handled it just fine.

You'll park and hopefully not be as aghast at the amount of maskless people as we were, but if you are, rest assured that you should be able to find a clear path. The main loop entrance to the left should be empty, and has a few offshoots where we saw a javelina amongst the birds. The part of the loop that starts to your right is where the majority of the cranes and assholes without masks can be found, so just be careful and make sure to cough very loudly when anyone uncovered tries to pass you. Or have Coco accompany you because she has no problem with telling people to wear a mask, and honestly it works like a charm. (I heard this is apparently how seatbelts finally gained traction among adults? They taught kids in school how important they were and then had them guilt adults into it. Brilliant.)

Not that you need my help in this area, but for clothing I would definitely recommend something warmer, especially this time of year, and shoes you don't mind getting a bit muddy. Being there at sunset the temps dropped pretty considerably once the light started fading, so at the very least bring an extra layer if you plan to make an evening visit. 

You'll also want to make sure to keep your eyes out for the many other bird species that roost here! It's not just cranes, although it will seem like it. The less populated paths will be good for other birding, or just gazing at how nicely all the bird floof glows in the light.

If you plan to spend a decent amount of time here, there is more than enough room to bring your own chairs and camp out for a bit. It's an incredible escape from civilization, and the sounds of the cranes were simply glorious. Fill a thermos with some cocoa, or some broth from Thuy's, and have a long stay.

On the way home, we decided to stop by a cute looking local ice cream shop in Benson that had a considerably long line in the drive-thru, which I definitely have zero regrets about. Their menu was super long given the size of the shop, so go prepared to have a slew of options.

I ended up going with a house concoction called frozen hot chocolate, which if basically exactly what it sounds like. They mix up hot cocoa mix, ice, milk, ice cream, and top with whip. It's the hot chocolate Arizona needed tbh. Their Facebook page is pretty updated with their seasonal offerings and spotlight flavors, so give that a peep before you go if you like to be prepared.

Annnnnnnnd that's it!
Please please please tell me if you go, because I'll dying to know how it was, and if you found any cool local spots of your own!

1 comment:

  1. Love this! I’ve been wanting to know wtf to do during Covid. The photos are stunning too