An agave stalk protrudes from the grasslands against a bright blue sky painted with puffy white clouds.
An agave stalk protrudes from the grasslands against a bright blue sky painted with puffy white clouds.
About Us

Visiting the Research Ranch

Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch. Photo: Steve Prager.
Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch. Photo: Steve Prager.
About Us

Visiting the Research Ranch

With thousands of acres of Arizona's most valuable and rapidly-declining habitats, flocks of researchers, and ongoing studies in our care, we do not have the capacity to allow drop-in visitation. For the safety of visitors, the preservation of habitat, and the safeguarding of research, access is by permit only, requires advance notice, is limited to our open hours, is limited to low-impact activities (birding, photography, etc.), and is not guaranteed. Upon arrival, all visitors will be required to sign a release of liability and the Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch code of conduct.

(Are you a researcher, past or present, looking to initiate or continue research on the Research Ranch? Click here to learn more about researcher access!)

Location: 366 Research Ranch Rd, Elgin, AZ 85611

Hours of Operation

  • Monday-Friday: 9am-3pm by appointment only (see below).

  • Saturday-Sunday: CLOSED except for special events.

Listed hours are subject to change. The Research Ranch is closed during most holiday observances. Staff is always on site.

Scheduling a visit

All visitation requests must be made at least one week (seven days) prior to arrival. To request access, please contact us at researchranch@audubon.org. All guests are welcome to drive or hike the main loop road and hike our birding trail (entrance behind Headquarters). All other roads are restricted and require expressed permission to access and are generally reserved for researcher access. 

Facilities

The Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch has two main outposts. The Research Complex consists of three guest buildings (the Bunkhouse, the Swinging H, and the Casita) as well as a free-standing, indoor laboratory. The Administrative Complex, located about one mile up the road, consists of our Headquarters Office, the Barn, and staff residences.

  • Swinging H Ranch House: The ranch house sleeps six with three separate bedrooms, each containing two twin beds. The house also has two bathrooms, a full (shared) kitchen, a large dining and living area, and a washing machine (please keep water conservation in mind when deciding to use the washing machine).
  • Bunkhouse: The Bunkhouse sleeps eleven with five bedrooms, four of which contain two twin beds and one of which holds three. The back bedroom is set up as a suite with its own bathroom. All told, the Bunkhouse can sleep up to eleven individuals and includes two bathrooms, a full (shared) kitchen, a modest dining and living area, and a washing machine (please keep water conservation in mind when deciding to use the washing machine).
  • Casita: The Casita features a queen murphy bed, bathroom, and kitchenette.
  • Classroom: The 30 x 30 foot classroom is part of the Headquarters building and houses an overhead projector and plenty of whiteboard space. Tables and chairs can accommodate classes up to 60 persons. With seating room only (no tables) the room can accomodate up to 90.

Fees

  • Day visits within office hours: FREE
  • Non-Exclusive Lodging at the Swinging H or Bunkhouse: Both buildings ofter ample room for lodging, living space, and a full kitchen. By renting non-exclusive lodging, you are only reserving a bed! You may have roomates sharing your space.
    • General public - $60 per person/night
    • Researcher - $40 per person/night (Discount Rates available for long term researchers: 50% off after 14 days. Lodging days must be consecutive.)
    • Students (undegrad or below) - $20 per person/night
  • Tent Camping: Not permitted without exclusive housing rental, see below.
  • RV/Trailer Camping: Not Permitted.
  • Exclusive Housing Rentals: The Swinging H, Bunkhouse, and full Research Complex are available for exclusive rental, meaning no others will be sharing your space.
    • Swinging H: The Swinging H offers six beds and room for 7 tents.
      • General Public: $360 daily + $30 per camper/night.
      • Researcher: $240 daily + $20 per camper/night.
      • Students (undegrad or below): $120 daily + $10 per camper/night.
    • Bunkhouse: The Bunkhouse offers eleven beds and room for 7 tents.
      • General Public: $660 daily + $30 per camper/night.
      • Researcher: $440 daily + $20 per camper/night.
      • Students (undegrad or below): $220 daily + $10 per camper/night.
    • Full Research Complex: Renting the full Research Complex gives you exclusive access to the Swinging H, Bunkhouse, and Casita and offers room for 14 tents. $1500 daily.

* A $10 laundry fee will be charged per indoor resident/visit. You can opt-out of this fee by using your own linens (towels, sheets, etc.)
** All visitors must check-in by 4pm on the day of their arrival and check-out by 10am on the morning of their departure.

Classroom Rental

  • Groups of up to 30: $100 for the first three hours, $25/hour thereafter.
  • Groups of 31-60: $200 for the first three hours, $50/hour thereafter.
  • Groups of 61-90: $300 for the first three hours, $75/hour thereafter.

Amenities

  • Telephones: Telephones (land-lines) are available in most buildings. Long-distance is blocked on the research complex phones, so you will need to use a credit card or phone card. Cell phone coverage on the ranch is very spotty but we have installed boosters in the Bunkhouse and the Swinging H. 
  • Wi-fi: Wi-fi is available in the Bunkhouse, Swinging H, Casita and Lab. Due to limited bandwidth, please turn off automatic downloads and do not download or stream. If you do need to download materials, participate in a training session, webinar or zoom, please make arrangements with staff to do so at Headqurters in our Classroom. 
  • Laboratory & equipment: Our 25 x 35 foot laboratory building includes a chest freezer, specimen case, lab sink, and rest room. It also includes plenty of counter space, overhead fluorescent lighting, electrical outlets, and wi-fi.
  • Herbarium: The herbarium, housed in the main office, features approximately 1200 locally-collected plant specimens. A photo herbarium is under development.
  • Trash & Recyclables: We do not have trash pickup and are extremely limited with what we can recycle here in Santa Cruz County. If and when possible, please pack out to ease burden on our facility and the local landfill. THANK YOU!

 

Downloadable Resources

Connect with the Research Ranch