Last week Sasha and I went on a little adventure to explore the Riparian Preserve. I’d heard about it, but wasn’t really sure what to expect and didn’t do too much research ahead of time. It was a lovely set up of trails through and around the water basins. I also noticed that it is connected to the Gilbert canal system, making it an ideal stop through during a run!
The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch located in Gilbert, AZ was developed in 1999 as a unique way to combine water capabilities in the desert with educational and recreational opportunities. A riparian according to Merriam-Webster by definition is “relating to or living or located on the bank of a natural watercourse (such as a river) or sometimes of a lake or a tidewater.” In other words, it’s the habitat along the water. The Riparian Preserve includes 7 water basins that are filled on a rotating schedule. These basins are treated and percolated into an aquifer for future use and the riparian around the basins showcases different habitats. One even mimics a moving desert stream. A separate basin, or lake, is actually filled with reclaimed water where those with proper licensing can fish…and you can feed the waterfowl :) There are actually about 298 species of birds found on the preserve!
The Riparian Preserve is free and open to the public. Bikes and horses are allowed on certain paths, while leashed dogs are allowed in all pedestrian areas. Certain facilities on property, like the dinosaur dig site, are available for a small fee. The preserve is also a very popular place for school groups and on select days of the week, the observatory is open.
We spent about an hour at the preserve walking around, exploring the vegetation and paths and finding it so curious to see water, fall colors and green which you wouldn’t typically find in the desert of Arizona! I can’t wait to head back out there for a run!