birdandhike.com logo
Home | Birding | Favorites
Birding the Hassayampa River Preserve
Birding Around Las Vegas, Favorite Places Far Away
Hassayampa River Preserve
Hassayampa River Preserve
Hassayampa Road (view W from Highway 93/60)

Overview

There are many riparian corridors in Arizona, and perhaps the Hassayampa River Preserve is a favorite place for birdwatching only because I travel the highway between Phoenix and Las Vegas more often than I travel other highways through riparian corridors, but even so, this is a great place to bird during the warmer months. This is just north of the Hassayampa Roadside Rest Area, another great place to stop and bird while driving through the area.

The preserve is open Wednesday to Sunday, the staff is friendly, the area is nicely cared for, the trails are marked and easy, and one trail is fully accessible -- all for only $5/person/day. Feel free to donate more because income supports the area. Chat up the staff and check the "recent sightings" board to learn what birds to expect, and be sure to pick up a Trail Guide and a Bird List (if the links don't work, snatch a PDF here: guide, list).

Link to site map.

Hassayampa River Preserve
Sign posted on the ranch gate

Description

Hassayampa is a Native American word that translates to "upside down river." While the Hassayampa River runs all year, it runs underground (under the sand, not on top of the sand) most of the time. Despite the apparently dry wash, water flowing below the surface supports a spring-fed lake and large stands of cottonwood trees, true willows, and desert willow along the edge of the wash and a fringe of mesquite, saltbush, and other desert shrubs along the margin. The surrounding vegetation is typical of Arizona uplands desert with a variety of shrubs, mesquite thickets, paloverde trees, and saguaro cactus.

The Nature Conservancy, in conjunction with Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department, operates the Hassayampa River Preserve, a 770-acre natural area along the Hassayampa River just north of the Hassayampa Roadside Rest Area.

Hassayampa River Preserve
Hassayampa Road (view W towards the parking area)

This area is a great place to bird a riparian cottonwood-willow forest during warmer months. Visitors can stroll trails through the forest, sit quietly on the edge of Palm Lake, or just sit in front of the Visitor Center and listen to birds singing in the trees while watching hummingbirds, orioles, thrashers, and woodpeckers come in to feed.

Walking the trails, summer birders should expect to see Mallard Duck, Gambel's Quail, Turkey Vulture, American Coot, Mourning Dove, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Anna's Hummingbird, Gila Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Black Phoebe, Vermillion Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Common Raven, Cactus Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, Phainopepla, Lucy's Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Abert's Towhee, Summer Tanager, Northern Cardinal, Hooded Oriole, House Finch, and Lesser Goldfinch.

On the trails, summer visitors should also expect to see Zebratail Lizards, Sonoran Tiger Whiptail Lizards (Aspidoscelis tigris punctilinealis), and perhaps Side-blotched Lizards, Horned Lizards, Gilbert Skink, Diamond-backed Rattlesnake, Lowland Leopard Frogs, and even fish (Longfin Dace).

Hassayampa River Preserve
Uplands shrubs with tall trees in the background (view SW)

This area is particularly good for Las Vegas birders because this is the northern-most, easy to access, place to see species harder to find at home. For example, Gila Woodpeckers, Northern Cardinals, and Summer Tanagers are common here.

Location

Hassayampa River Preserve is located about 3 miles south of Wickenburg, Arizona, on the west side of Highway U.S. 60/93. From the southern traffic circle in Wickenburg, drive south on the main highway 3.4 miles to Hassayampa Road (33.93303, -112.69505), on the right. When approaching Hassayampa Road, look for wildlife viewing symbol-signs (binocular signs), and turning onto Hassayampa Road, look for the ranch gate sign announcing the area.

Continuing south, it is only 2.1 miles to Hassayampa Roadside Rest Area.

Hassayampa River Preserve
Front parking area with Visitor Center in the background (view S)

Hours

Summer (Mid-May to Mid-September): Wednesday to Sunday, 7 AM to 11 AM.

Winter (Mid-September to Mid-May: Wednesday to Sunday, 7 AM to 4 PM.

Fees

General admission is $5; Conservancy members pay $3; kids 12 and under get in free, and Friends of the Hassayampa get in free. Annual passes cost $35 and allow access to the Hassayampa River Preserve, Ramsey Canyon, and Patagonia-Sonoita Creek.

For More Information

For more information, contact Hassayampa River Preserve online or at (928) 684-2772 or e-mail to bmccollum@tnc.org. Also contact the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department.

Hassayampa River Preserve
Sign at edge of parking area (view SW)

Specialties

Vermilion Flycatchers, Cactus Wrens, and neotropical migrants (Summer Tanager and Lucy's Warblers) are common during summer. Red-shouldered Hawks nest in the Nature Conservancy area, the only known nesting site in Arizona, and Gray Hawk and Common Black Hawk nest in the area. Zone-tailed Hawk, an uncommon species present throughout the year, can be seen here too. Keep an keen eye out for Black Vulture, a rare species here, but one that may be moving north as the climate changes.

Hassayampa River Preserve
Visitor Center (view S from entrance gate)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Visitor Center entrance (view S)
Hassayampa River Preserve
One of several hummingbird feeders at the Visitor Center (view W)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Hummingbird and oriole feeders at the Visitor Center (view NW)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Visitor Center (view SE from oriole feeders)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Curve-billed Thrashers at the Visitor Center (view SE)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Kiosk information sign at beginning of the trails (view S)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Picnic area near Kiosk sign (view NE)

Lion Trail

Hassayampa River Preserve
from the kiosk, stairs lead down river bank (view W)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Typical trail junction sign.
Hassayampa River Preserve
Some trails follow sandy washes (view S)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Bridge across the river during low water (view W)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Peering into the riparian thicket (view W)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Returning back across the river (view NE)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Lowland Leopard Frog
Hassayampa River Preserve
Gilbert Skink
Hassayampa River Preserve
Side-blotched Lizard
Hassayampa River Preserve
Longfin Dace

Palm Lake Loop Trail

Hassayampa River Preserve
Bench overlooking Palm Lake (view E; May 2012)
Hassayampa River Preserve
View from bench overlooking Palm Lake (view E; May 2017)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Palm Lake (view NE; May 2012)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Palm Lake (view SE; May 2012)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Palm Lake (view NE; May 2017)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Palm Lake (view SE; May 2017)
Hassayampa River Preserve
American Coot hauling nesting material
Hassayampa River Preserve
Information sign along Palm Lake Loop Trail
Hassayampa River Preserve
Palm Trees along Palm Lake Loop Trail
Hassayampa River Preserve
Bench along Palm Lake Loop Trail (view S)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Palm thicket along Palm Lake Loop Trail
Hassayampa River Preserve
Palm Lake
Hassayampa River Preserve
Palm Lake Loop Trail
Hassayampa River Preserve
Palm Lake Loop Trail
Hassayampa River Preserve
Palm Lake Loop Trail alternative: Willow Walkway (view SW)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Palm Lake Loop Trail alternative: Willow Walkway (view N)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Palm Lake Loop Trail (view S)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Palm Lake Loop Trail, nearing the picnic area (view S)

River Ramble Trail

Hassayampa River Preserve
River Ramble trail sign at start of loop (view N)
Hassayampa River Preserve
River Ramble trail, start of loop (view N)
Hassayampa River Preserve
River Ramble trail, traversing dry country (view N)
Hassayampa River Preserve
River Ramble trail, traversing wet country (view N)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Zebratail Lizards
Hassayampa River Preserve
Sonoran Tiger Whiptail Lizard (Aspidoscelis tigris punctilinealis)

Lykes' Overlook Trail

Hassayampa River Preserve
Lykes' Overlook Trail, approaching the overlook (view NE)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Lykes' Overlook (view NE)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Lykes' Overlook (view NNE)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Lykes' Overlook (view SE)
Hassayampa River Preserve
Zone-tailed Hawk at Lykes' Overlook
Hassayampa River Preserve
Black Vulture at Lykes' Overlook
Hassayampa River Preserve
Summer Tanager along the trail
Hassayampa River PreserveHorned Lizard at Lykes' Overlook

Recent Visit: Hassayampa River Preserve, Maricopa, Arizona, US May 24, 2017 7:00 AM - 11:05 AM Protocol: Traveling 2.0 mile(s) Comments: Warm to hot, clear, and nearly calm 32 species. Mallard 11, Gambel's Quail 2, Black Vulture 2, Turkey Vulture 9, Zone-tailed Hawk 1, American Coot 8, White-winged Dove 2, Black-chinned Hummingbird 3, Anna's Hummingbird 8, Costa's Hummingbird 1, Gila Woodpecker 20, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 4, Black Phoebe 1, Vermilion Flycatcher 10, Ash-throated Flycatcher 3, Cactus Wren 1, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3, Swainson's Thrush 1, Curve-billed Thrasher 4, Phainopepla 25, Lucy's Warbler 8, Yellow Warbler 20, Yellow-rumped Warbler 2, Yellow-breasted Chat 10, Song Sparrow 3, Abert's Towhee 12, Western Tanager 3, Northern Cardinal 5, Red-winged Blackbird 25, Hooded Oriole 5, House Finch 15, Lesser Goldfinch 20.

Happy birding! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170528

Favorite Places Far Away Birding Around Las Vegas Glossary Copyright, Conditions, Disclaimer Home

 

Google Ads