Open to the Public
Hiking, walking, wildlife watching, birding View All
Nature hikes, volunteer opportunities and more View All
A special piece of Arizona’s natural environment is being protected and restored at the Hassayampa River Preserve near Wickenburg. Now, after more than a quarter-century as a Nature Conservancy preserve, the preserve will become part of the Vulture Mountains Recreation Area. This new chapter for Hassayampa River Preserve is being made possible by a partnership between the Conservancy and Maricopa County's Parks and Recreation Department.
For most of its 100-mile course through the desert, the Hassayampa River flows only underground. But within the preserve its crystal clear waters emerge, flowing above ground throughout the year. This lush streamside habitat is home to some of the desert’s most spectacular wildlife. Yet many of them have become dangerously imperiled as riparian areas have disappeared from the Arizona landscape.
In the Sonoran Desert, riparian areas nourish cottonwood-willow forests, one of the rarest and most threatened forest types in North America. An estimated 90% of these critical wet landscapes have been lost, damaged or degraded in the last century. This loss threatens at least 80% of Arizona wildlife, which depend upon riparian habitats for survival.
Download the entire Hassayampa schedule (.pdf, 369 kb).
Exploring the Outdoors as a Nature Ranger
Nine-year-old Sydney Smith wanted to share her love of nature with other kids. That’s why in 2009 she and her mother started the Nature Rangers program at the Hassayampa River Preserve.
“I want kids to know that if we care about wildlife, we can save the world,” said Sydney. The program engages children in kindergarten through sixth grade in exploring nature and learning about the importance of preservation and conservation. Specific activities include bird banding, monarch tagging, hiking and other programs.
For information on how to get involved in Nature Rangers, contact Bernadine McCollum at the Hassayampa River Preserve: (928) 684-2772.
Give Nature a Hand
Volunteers offer the Conservancy a way to complete more critically important work while developing lasting friendships and having a lot of fun. Learn more about volunteer opportunities with The Nature Conservancy in Arizona. "HRP Times": Download the latest newsletter from Hassayampa (.pdf, 1.4 MB).
Hassayampa River Preserve begins a new chapter with Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department.
Young visitors in particular delight in spotting the many species of lizards that dart amidst the underbrush and woody debris, including the rare Gilbert’s skink. Along trails you can see the tracks of animals drawn to the river’s edge: mule deer, javelina, raccoon, bobcat, ring-tailed cat, and even mountain lion.
Spring-fed Palm Lake is a unique four-acre pond and marsh habitat. The marshy pond habitat attracts an impressive array of water birds such as the great blue heron, white-faced ibis, and pied-billed grebe. The large willows around the lake provide important nesting habitat for the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher.
Download latest events schedule.
What You'll See
At Hassayampa River Preserve you may see any one of the 280 species of birds living, nesting, or migrating along the riparian corridor. Perched atop the massive trees and dead snags are some of Arizona’s rarest raptors, like the zone-tailed hawk, the black hawk, and the Harris hawk. Lucky birders may sight a Mississippi kite or the elusive yellow-billed cuckoo. Download checklist of birds at Hassayampa River Preserve (.pdf, 596 kb).
49614 N. U.S. Hwy. Hwy 60/89
Wickenburg, AZ 85390
GPS Coordinates: N33 56.146 W112 41.579; 1,964 ft.
Hours & Fees
The Nature Conservancy’s Hassayampa River Preserve is a bird watcher's paradise. Please check in at the Visitor Center upon arrival.
Summer: May 14 - Sept. 16
Friday-Sunday, 7 to 11 a.m.
Trails close at 10:30 a.m.
Sept. 17 - Mid-May: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday - Sunday
Trails close at 4:30 p.m.
CLOSED MONDAY & TUESDAY ALL YEAR, as well as on Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve Day and New Year’s Day.
The Preserve depends upon entrance fees to carry out its conservation activities. Admission is $5; $3 for Conservancy members; and free for kids 12 & under and Friends of the Hassayampa.
Visitors can purchase an annual pass for $35 that allows access to the Hassayampa River Preserve as well as Ramsey Canyon and Patagonia-Sonoita Creek preserves in southeastern Arizona.
Trails & Information
Trails at the Hassayampa are self-guided, leading you along the lush river bottoms, across the river’s floodplain, through majestic cottonwood-willow forests and dense mesquite bosques (Spanish word for forest) found only near desert waterways. On your walk, a brilliant vermilion flycatcher or an Abert’s towhee on the wing might catch your eye. Also a part of the trail system is a loop around Palm Lake where waterfowl, otherwise uncommon in the desert, are a major attraction.
Docent-led guided walks are available. Please call (928) 684-2772, to find out about regular walks or to schedule a walk for your group. Download trail guide of the preserve. (.pdf, 1.3MB)
The Arthur L. Johnson Visitor Center contains interactive displays on desert and riparian ecology which provide guests with colorful and detailed stories about the special plants and animals found within the preserve.
Sturdy shoes, hat, sunscreen, binoculars and plenty of water.
In consideration of our sensitive wildlife habitats and the number of visitors we host, we ask all visitors to observe the following. Smoking is allowed in parking areas ONLY. Pets are not allowed on the preserve. All visitors must remain on established trails. Picnicking is allowed only in the designated picnic area.
No swimming or wading, alcoholic beverages, feeding or disturbing wildlife, motorized vehicles or bicycles. No collecting of any kind. Do not damage or remove any plants, animals, wood, minerals, or artifacts. No camping, hunting or fishing. Nor fires or firearms are permitted. No dogs, horses, or other domestic animals, radios, tape players, and electronic calling devices.
Call (928) 684-2772 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Need help finding our preserves? Download directions (.pdf, 205 kb) to the six Arizona preserves open to the public. When using online mapping tools, enter "Hassayampa River Preserve" instead of the street address for accurate directions.