Summer upland desert night drive

I had the opportunity this past weekend to hit a somewhat local spot that I have been meaning to hunt for many years. It is in a mountainous area that is out of the lower desert where temperatures are a bit cooler (for Arizona). We had a good heavy rainstorm on Friday and so me and my trusted herping companion decided to give it a go. I recently had my AC repaired in my truck so I felt exciting to go herping in the nice cool AC.

Almost immediately upon arrival at our chosen location, we found this gorgeous little ring neck snake. It had been about 16 or 17 years since I had found my last one, which was a very large one in Madeira Canyon in the Santa Rita mountains. This one, however, was much smaller, probably about 12 inches in length. It was stretched out along the side of the road at dusk. Here are a few shots of it:

arizona ring neck snake

arizona ring neck snake top

We climbed higher in elevation and the air started to cool a bit. We passed a few tarantulas, and then found a beautiful black tailed rattlesnake, which I was unable to photograph as it escaped to a very steep rocky slope while I was getting my camera!

We climed a bit higher in elevation and eventually found this gorgeous Arizona Black Rattlesnake. We actually did not see the animal on the road, it was off the shoulder in the brush but we heard it rattle as we passed it, which is also how I found another a few years ago. This one was nice and dark and healthy looking.

arizona black rattlesnake


We left this majestic animal in peace and continued our search. About 45 minutes later, we were again greeted by this same animal. It had traveled only a short distance from where we had located it the first time.

We found other interesting beetles and centipedes (which I did not photograph) on the search, but no other snakes. We didn’t expect to be out too late that evening, but we did do a little exploring on the way home, finding a potentially good place to find Arizona Mountain Kings that deserves exploring at some future date. I am looking forward to one or two more short outings this monsoon season!