Arizona is more than just cacti and tumbleweeds skirting the desert floor. The state’s clear, blue skies and varied landscapes provide an environment ideal for varied flora and abundant wildlife.

This natural splendor can be enjoyed at any one of Arizona’s six public Nature Conservancy preserves, all of which allow visitors some of the best wildlife viewing Arizona has to offer. Located throughout the state, these preserves draw visitors from around the world to experience nature up close.

So lace up your hiking boots to explore these Arizona parks offering unique birding and wildlife experiences year round.

Why visit a preserve?

Nature preserves are ecologically important lands and bodies of water protected for the purpose of conserving their resources. For as little as $5 per person, an Arizona adventure is well within reach.

Hassayampa River Preserve

Winter resident bird species are out in full force in late fall at the Hassayampa River Preserve. After a short drive from the Phoenix area, visitors can expect to see some of the state’s most rare hawks – such as zone-tailed or black hawks – and might even spot mule deer, javelina or a bobcat while enjoying a hike along one of the self-guided trails. Late November showcases Hassayampa’s golden color change in its deciduous trees as well.

Plan your visit:

•    Located near Wickenburg

•    Seasonal hours, and closed Mondays and Tuesdays year-round

Ramsey Canyon Preserve

Ramsey Canyon promises world-class birding. Look for more than 170 species of birds as well as deer and tree frogs. The occasional blanket of snow enhances the breathtaking scenic beauty. Majestic canyon walls provide an interesting contrast to the arid grasslands creating what are known as “sky islands.”

Plan your visit:

•    The best months for birding are April–September.

•    Limited parking is available.

Aravaipa Canyon Preserve

aravaipa.pngMarch’s warmer weather awakens nature from her slumber as springtime at Aravaipa Canyon Preserve is a sight for winter’s sore eyes. Visitors witness Arizona birds’ migration in full swing as black and gray hawks make their return to the canyon to establish their nesting territories.

Located about 50 miles northeast of Tucson, Aravaipa’s majestic cliffs and pristine water flows provide an ideal habitat to 200 species of birds.

Plan your visit:

•    Open daily, year-round

•    Access to the canyon requires a permit from the Bureau of Land Management, (928) 348-4400.

Hart Prairie Preserve

hartsprairie.pngThe only public Nature Conservancy site in Northern Arizona, Hart Prairie is a cool, 245-acre home to wildflowers, Ponderosa pine, elk, deer and 40 species of birds.

Hart Prairie was donated by a local family to the Nature Conservancy in 1994 when the family discovered their land contained globally rare Bebb willow trees.

Plan your visit:

•    Located 14 miles from Flagstaff

•    Hart Prairie is not open on a daily basis to visitors, but facilities are available for overnight retreats to groups with a focus on conservation, education and outreach.

Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area (CMA)

Book an overnight adventure September–May at Muleshoe Ranch CMA. Cooperatively managed by the Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management and Coronado National Forest, Muleshoe Ranch boasts nearly 50,000 acres of ecological wonderland. Seven flowing streams in the area represent some of the best remaining aquatic habitat in the region.

Plan your visit:

•    Begin your trip at the visitor center for maps, road conditions, camping information and local history.

•    Overnight accommodations are available.

Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve

Plan a July getaway to the birding mecca of Patagonia-Sonoita Creek. Nestled between the Patagonia and Santa Rita Mountains of Southern Arizona, this is home to endangered fish, butterflies and birds. More than 100 species of birds migrate, nest and live here.

Plan your visit:

•    Call (520) 394-2400 to check on the availability of guided nature walks.
•    Easy walking trails take visitors through the beautiful cottonwood forests.

It doesn’t matter what time of year you choose to visit Arizona’s natural wonders – there is something beautiful and unique to see every day of the year.


Article updated: 3/14/2012

Going?

The Nature Conservancy - Arizona
Phone: (602) 712-0048
Visit Official Website

Aravaipa Canyon Preserve
Phone: (928) 828-3443
Visit Official Website

Hart Prairie Preserve
Phone: (928) 774-8892
Visit Official Website

Hassayampa River Preserve
Phone: (928) 684-2772
Visit Official Website

Muleshoe Ranch CMA
Phone: (520) 212-4295
Visit Official Website

Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve
Phone: (520) 394-2400
Visit Official Website

Ramsey Canyon Preserve
Phone: (520) 378-2785
Visit Official Website