The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is best known for its birds. Close to 200 species have been noted as being seen here. On any day at the Riparian Preserve you'll come across both novice and experienced bird watchers, some with simple binoculars and other with sophisticated and expensive camera equipment. Some people just bring a baby in a stroller and a pooch on a leash and enjoy a beautiful walk or jog through the preserve.
Welcome to the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch
The Friends of Audubon Arizona organization conducts free Family Bird Walks between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. on the third Saturday of every month from October through April. These are intended for the young or novice birdwatchers.
What is Water Ranch?
What is this place really? The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is a water recycling facility for the Town of Gilbert. Gilbert treats its wastewater, and then pipes it into the basins here where it replenishes the underground water supply. The water can then be pumped out of the ground to support the water needs of the homes and businesses in Gilbert. This system, then, creates an opportunity for habitats for many kinds of wildlife and plant life that you might not see in other desert areas.
The Riparian Institute manages the Preserve, and also coordinates with people and groups who are studying wetlands, riparian or wildlife.
Fishing at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve
The lake at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is regularly stocked with trout, catfish, bass and sunfish by the Arizona Game and Fish department, so you can fish here as long as you have an urban fishing license. Kids under 14 years old don't need a license. Daily limits are posted at the lake.
Learn About the Riparian Preserve
The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch was dedicated on October 9, 1999. Information about the Water Ranch in Gilbert is posted around the 110-acre preserve. You can learn about the various habitats supported there, the wildlife, and the plant life.
Do Research or Just Take a Walk
You don't have to be a student or researcher to enjoy the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. You don't have to own high powered equipment. You don't have to be a fisherman or horticultural expert or astronomer. Many people who visit here are simply out for a walk, to enjoy nature in a natural setting that makes you forget there's a big city out there.
Tip: All dogs must be on a leash, and you must pick up after them.
The Park Ranger at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch leads an interpretive walk every Monday at 8:30 a.m. from October through April. You can meet him at the entrance off the east end of the preserve parking lot. The walk is about a mile, and the tour lasts for about 1-1/2 hours. It is wheelchair accessible.
The area near the entrance to the preserve, including the boulders with petroglyphs, is used to demonstrate use of a wikiup, plants of the desert for food and medicine and a simulated dig site for artifacts during class field trips.
Camping, Classes, Programs
Dinosaur digs, family bird walks, camps and other programs take place regularly at the Riparian Preserve in Gilbert. Many of the programs are free, or have a nominal fee to participate. Various areas of the preserve can also be rented for private events.
The Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory is located at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. It is close to the parking lot, so it doesn't require much walking to get there. The observatory is open to the public Friday and Saturday nights. The observatory houses a 16-inch diameter Meade, modified Richey-Cretien scope, guided by a Paramount ME computer controlled German equatorial mount slaved to The Sky professional computer program. The East Valley Astronomy Club manages the observatory and staffs its operation and programs.
Location, Admission, Season
The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is operated by the Town of Gilbert, southeast of Gilbert. This 110-acre site is a popular place for bird watchers and nature lovers.
Address: 2757 E. Guadalupe Road, Gilbert. See this location on Google Maps.
Note: This is not the address for the office. This is the address for the Preserve itself.
Directions: Take US 60 to the Greenfield Road Exit. South on Greenfield and drive south to Guadalupe. The entrance to the parking lot is east of Greenfield on Guadalupe.
There is no charge for admission to Gilbert's Riparian Preserve.
The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch Fishing Lake is open from dawn to 10 p.m. The Preserve is open from dawn to dusk, 365 days per year.
The Riparian Institute office is located in the Community Services Building at 90 E. Civic Center Drive in Gilbert. The Riparian Institute mailing address is 50 E Civic Center Drive, Gilbert, Arizona 85296
For more information, call the Riparian Institute at 480-503-6744 or visit them online.
All dates, times, prices and offerings are subject to change without notice.