Arizona, United States
Mount Graham is a mountain in southeastern Arizona in the United States, in the Coronado National Forest. It is the highest mountain in the Pinaleño Mountains. The mountain reaches 10720 feet in height, attaining the highest elevation in Graham County. It is twentieth of the 57 ultra prominent peaks of the lower 48 states, and the first of the five in Arizona.
Mount Graham summits are headwaters for numerous perennial streams that tumble through five major botanical zones. Located between the southern Rocky Mountains and Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental, and biologically isolated for millennia, the higher elevations have provided refuge for relic populations of plants and animals with adaptive strategies rooted in Pleistocene ice age environmental conditions. Of particular note are stands of the oldest conifer trees in the U.S. Southwest and associated habitats for threatened and endangered species, especially the Mt Graham Red Squirrel.
Located near the northern limit of the Chiricahua Apache homeland and the southern margins of Western Apache territory, the range is one of the Western Apache’s four holiest mountains and is considered sacred by all of the region's Native peoples. Since a determination by the Keeper of the Register in 2002, Dził Nchaa Si An, as it is known in the Western Apache language, ranks as the largest and most extensive (~330,000 acres) property listed on or formally determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
Mount Graham Observatory
Mount Graham, with some of the clearest skies in the world, is home to the Mount Graham International Observatory area, where multiple organizations have set up large telescopes in a few separate observatories authorized by a rare peace-time Congressional waiver of U.S. environmental laws.
The United States Congress authorized construction of observatories on the mountain in 1988, but there has been outcry from the four federally recognized tribes of the Western Apache Nation and Native American groups, who consider the site to be sacred. Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club also oppose the Mount Graham International Observatory because the higher elevations are that last remaining habitat for the Mount Graham Red Squirrel.