image from here
Roccy, a devout iheartmesa reader, recently suggested the Riparian Institute in Gilbert. She says, "Just went there today - LOVED it! And it's free and close!" I myself have been to part of the facility and enjoyed a little fishing with my family, but had not realized the size and other activities the institute has to offer.
The 110-acre Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is located at:
2757 E. Guadalupe Road
(East of Greenfield Road, next to the Southeast Regional Library)
In addition to urban fishing, the preserve also offers bird watching and has an observatory. Fishing is available from dawn to 10:00 PM with the rest of the preserve open from dawn to dusk. The observatory is only open on Friday and Saturday evenings, weather permitting. The hours of operation will be from sunset to about two hours after nautical twilight. The cost for the observatory is free, however, a donation of $3 per person is suggested.
From what I have heard and read, this preserve is one of the best for bird watching. Roccy says, "When I've gone - I've just walked around. There's a nice path - some of it is paved and that circles around a lake - for fishing and stuff. But for me, the coolest part was the marshy land/lake toward the back of the property off a hard packed dirt trail FILLED with awesome birds - like herons. Honestly, I think it's better than Desert Botanical Gardens. Also, when we went in the late afternoon/early evening, we saw burrowing owls - little owls that live in the ground. So cool. I'm sure any nature enthusiast will enjoy it - especially if they get off the paved path and venture on the other dirt paths (still well marked and well traveled). "
Most activities are free, however, there are some extras that require registration and a fee. Things such as Dino Digs, Beginning Bird Watching, and Gardening for Wildlife. Go here for a list of events that you can sign up for. For a fee you can also camp or reserve a ramada.
For more information, go here.
Thanks again Roccy. This sounds like a fun place to go. Especially with our beautiful weather.