Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

March 2, 2014
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Water Ranch Riparian Preserve in Gilbert, Arizona
Wetlands vegetation and wildlife in the midst of urban desert in Gilbert, Arizona

A riparian zone is the area between land and a river or stream. It provides a unique habitat for vegetation and wildlife. It is not a habitat one normally expects to find in the the midst of an urban centre in a desert. But the 110-acre Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch at 2757 E. Guadeloupe Road in Gilbert, Arizona is just that.

The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is a water recycling facility for Gilbert. Waste water is treated and piped into basins to replenish the underground water supply. The system also creates a habitat for vegetation and plant life you might not expect to see in the desert.

Stream at Gilbert Riparian Preserve in Gilbert, Arizona

Stream at Gilbert Riparian Preserve

Walking trail at Water ranch Riparian Preserve in Gilbert, Arizona

 

Trails through the preserve offer opportunity for runners, hikers, and those out for a more leisurely stroll. Information about the preserve, its vegetation and wildlife is posted along the trails. Bicycles are allowed on trails and sidewalks. Dogs on a leash are welcome. A portion of the trail is designated as equestrian.

 Geese on the lake at Water Ranch Riparian Preserve in Gilbert, Arizona

The Preserve attracts bird-watchers and photographers. About 200 species of birds have been spotted here. The Desert Rivers Audubon Society offers free guided bird walks every third Saturday of the month, October through March.

Spring wildflowers in Gilbert, Arizona

Spring wildflowers at the Preserve

The Preserve contains seven ponds and a Fishing Lake. The Fishing Lake is stocked with trout, catfish, bass and sunfish by the Arizona Game and Fish department. Fishing is allowed as per Urban Fishing Regulations. An urban fishing licence is required if you are over 14 years of age.

Gilbert Riparian Preserve cactus garden

Cactus garden at entrance to Preserve

The Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory at the Riparian Preserve is open every Friday and Saturday evening at nightfall September through June. The East Valley Astronomy Club manages the observatory and schedules events.

Bench under shade of a tree at Riparian rserve in Gilbert, Arizona

Shaded spot to sit for a while

I’ve visited the Riparian Preserve several times and always found it to be an uncrowded, peaceful place. When I walked through the trails, it was easy to forget that city sprawled around the preserve.

Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert, Arizona

Admission to the Gilbert Riparian Preserve is free. The Preserve is open daily from dawn to dusk. The Fishing Lake is open from dawn to 10 p.m.

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Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert, Arizona: Wetlands vegetation and wildlife in the midst of urban desert. #Arizona #Gilbert #riparian #park #fishing 

This post is linked with Travel Mondays


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  • Reply
    Irene S. Levine
    March 2, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Never heard that term before. Thanks for the introduction!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 4, 2014 at 10:45 am

      I had not heard the term before learning about this Preserve, although I have visited other wetand areas.

  • Reply
    Patti Morrow
    March 3, 2014 at 9:46 am

    I never knew the Riparian Preserve existed. The photos are lovely — I’ll have to make it a point to visit next time I’m in the Phoenix area.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 4, 2014 at 10:47 am

      It’s a quiet spot quiet different from the other tourist attractions.

  • Reply
    Jackie and Joel Smith
    March 3, 2014 at 10:59 am

    I’ve heard that term but never fully understood it. Thanks for the most informative post and beautiful photos!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 4, 2014 at 10:58 am

      I learned a lot about riparian zones by visiting the preserve and then doing some additional research for this post. Very important ecosystems.

  • Reply
    Doreen Pendgracs
    March 3, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    I love AZ, and am always amazed at the diversity it contains within the state. But being an island-girl-wannabee, I gravitate to island destinations and find they really soothe my soul. Glad you’re enjoying all that AZ has to offer.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 4, 2014 at 11:00 am

      I too love island destinations so was surprised to discover I also loved the desert in this area.

  • Reply
    Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer)
    March 3, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I learned the term riparian in law school. This looks like a lovely oasis in a desert urban area. I’ll look for it the next time I visit Phienix.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 4, 2014 at 11:00 am

      It definitely feels like an oasis.

  • Reply
    Noel Morata
    March 3, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Beautiful, what a way to replenish with grey water and create a natural filtration system into the water table and at the same time create a wonderful environment for wildlife and humans at the same time!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 4, 2014 at 11:05 am

      It is a wonderful way to reuse grey water and create a beautiful environment.

  • Reply
    Bob R
    March 3, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Looks like a nice spot. Always nice to see public spaces like these near urban areas. I hope it can be maintained.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 4, 2014 at 11:06 am

      Anything that helps with water management in the desert is important, so I think there is lots of motivation to maintain.

  • Reply
    Patti
    March 3, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    I can ditto what others have posted here – we love the desert and I love seeing cacti next to wildflowers, it always strikes me as such a pretty contrast.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 4, 2014 at 11:07 am

      And when the cacti themselves bloom, it is spectacular. It is interesting to see the vegetation in the Preserve through different times of the year.

  • Reply
    Donna Hull
    March 3, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Beautiful photos. Having lived in Tucson, I know how important riparian areas are for the desert. And a lovely spot for residents and visitors alike.

  • Reply
    Pat Amsden
    March 4, 2014 at 12:32 am

    It sounds and looks like a beautiful, zen like place. No wonder you enjoy going there. And it’s something you really don’t expect in Arizona.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 4, 2014 at 11:09 am

      It was certainly different than I expected. Since it is not too far from where we stayed last year and this year, it was possible to visit several times.

  • Reply
    Susanna
    March 4, 2014 at 5:53 am

    I’m a long, long way from Arizona but I’d make the journey just to rest for a while in the shade.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 4, 2014 at 11:09 am

      That shady spot is inviting, especially now as the sun is getting stronger.

  • Reply
    Paul Graham
    March 4, 2014 at 6:15 am

    Hi Donna; I recall the term ‘Riparian Rights’ from my time as a Real Estate Broker. It means that a property has certain specified rights regarding the waterway adjacent to it. In Ontario these are often limited by an old statute that is still on the books which grants the British Navy the right to take yellow pine trees ! Their long, straight trunks were prized for mast-making. I share this trivia only to endorse your link between any type of waterway and the important and useful plant life it fosters.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 4, 2014 at 11:12 am

      Interesting trivia. It’s funny to hear about some of the old statutes that stay on the books.

  • Reply
    jacquie
    March 4, 2014 at 8:32 am

    As an ex Realtor from Florida, I’m familiar with riparian rights as well. However, I had no idea that this existed in Arizona! It’s beautiful! I don’t blame you for visiting often. It sure does evoke a sense of peace. Love the photos!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 4, 2014 at 11:11 am

      Yes, it is a peaceful place. I am not familiar with riparian rights, but learned a bit about riparian areas through visiting the Preserve.

  • Reply
    Marilyn Jones
    March 4, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    What a great article; there are so many interesting, and in this case peaceful, locations near where we live.

  • Reply
    Meredith Wouters
    March 4, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    This reminds me of the Bosque in Albuquerque. We desert dwellers appreciate every bit of natural greenery we can get!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 5, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      I’ve not heard of the Bosque. Something to remember if I spend time in Albuquerque.

  • Reply
    Susan Cooper
    March 4, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    What a lovely place to visit. I would visit often too if I lived near by. Riparian areas are diminishing is so many areas. They are so important to our environment. It’s good to know that places like this exist. 🙂

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 5, 2014 at 12:19 pm

      Yes, Susan, it’s good to find places where positive action is taken with regard to the environment.

  • Reply
    Jason Butler
    March 4, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Looks like a good place to go and relax from time to time. It doesn’t look like it’s in the desert at all.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 5, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      It doesn’t feel like the desert either when you walk some of the trails. But when you look at the mountains in the background, you’re reminded you are in the desert.

  • Reply
    Neva Fels
    March 4, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    You’ve introduced me to a new word – Riparian. Looks like an interesting place that we’ll check out next time we visit that area. We enjoyed a similar place in Las Vegas and people are always amazed that there’s anything beside gambling in Nevada.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 5, 2014 at 12:22 pm

      There are likely a number of wonderful things to see in Nevada outside of gambling, but few people make it beyond the Strip. We went through Red Rock Canyon when we visited Las Vegas. It was beautiful. Not a riparian area, though.

  • Reply
    JeriWB
    March 5, 2014 at 1:51 am

    This reminds me a bit of the local fishing ponds close to my house, but these are much more beautiful.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 5, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      There aren’t many fishing ponds in Arizona, at least not that I’ve found. Mostly man-made lakes from dams.

  • Reply
    Sharon Purvis
    March 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Wow, that looks so beautiful! My best friend lives in Scottsdale–will definitely make it a point to go visit this reserve next time I’m out there for a visit.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 7, 2014 at 9:30 am

      It is a nice spot, quiet,subdued. And with a landscape that feels quite different than the desert.

  • Reply
    Mina Joshi
    March 6, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    What a beautiful place to visit. You have taken some wonderful pictures- making me wish I was going on holiday somewhere as pretty as this place.

  • Reply
    darthastewart
    March 6, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    Very interesting! And what a beautiful place. I hope to visit it the next time I head out to Arizona! I haven’t heard of one of these before, so I’ll have to go off and do more research.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 7, 2014 at 9:31 am

      It is an interesting and pretty spot.

  • Reply
    JourneyJottings
    March 7, 2014 at 8:06 am

    How amazing I never knew the term for such an important part of our environment –
    And I’m a biophiliac!! 😉

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 7, 2014 at 9:33 am

      And I never knew the term biophiliac. I had to look it up. Great word.

  • Reply
    William A. Butler
    March 8, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Hi Donna,
    Living in British Columbia surrounded by mountains and wetlands, we have much the same beauty, just not a cactus garden 😉
    You’ve included very beautiful photos. Great post. Thanks! Have a nice weekend!
    Bill

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 8, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Thanks. I have family in British Columbia and have walked through some lovely areas there.

  • Reply
    G Pierson
    March 8, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Love this place. Other similar places worth a look:
    Veterans Oasis Park
    S 148th St
    Gilbert, AZ 85298

    Tres Rios Wetlands
    S 91st Ave
    Phoenix, AZ 85353

    The Salt River restoration by the
    Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center
    3131 S Central Ave
    Phoenix, AZ 85040

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 8, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      Thanks very much for the information. I will have to check out these other places.

  • Reply
    Saguaro Sampler | Destinations Detours and Dreams
    April 29, 2015 at 11:49 am

    […] Me doing a rather pathetic saguaro imitation at Gilbert Riparian Preserve […]

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