There is an oasis in the Phoenix desert.
Well actually this oasis is in Gilbert which is in the Phoenix East Valley, but close enough.
Gilbert’s Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is a 110 acre park organized into various vegetative zones that range from marshlands to native riparian and upland vegetation areas. Almost 200 species of birds have been identified in the preserve, as well as all sorts of critters from fish and amphibians to jack rabbits and coyotes.
Over 4.5 miles of trails cross the park and there is a fishing area that is stocked with bass, catfish and trout (an Urban Fishing License is required. More info on the Urban Fishing program is here — PDF file).
Blinds to observe birds and wildlife are available as well as picnic ramadas and camping areas. Educational tours are also available.
The preserve is also home to the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory. A 16 inch Meade LX200R Advanced Ritchey-Chretien telescope is open to the public for astronomical observation on Friday and Saturday nights. Admission is free, though a $3 donation is suggested. The telescope is operated by volunteers from the East Valley Astronomy Club. The club also hosts a free monthly star party on the second Friday of each month at the Riparian Preserve.
The Riparian Preserve is a great place to walk and observe animals (and planets and galaxies!) in their natural habitat, right smack in the middle of suburbia. It is located in Water Ranch at the southeast corner of Guadalupe and Greenfield Roads. Water Ranch also includes the fabulous Southeast Regional Library, the Salt River Project Eastern Canal, and the Town of Gilbert Drinking Water Treatment Plant, a Fire Station, and Nichols Park.
Here are a few more photos I shot today at the Riparian Preserve (The photo at the top of this post was taken on yesterday’s Real Estate Biggest Loser walk. You can see that a cold front blew in overnight. . .)