LoPiano Bosque Habitat in Tempe is a hidden gem that we randomly stumbled upon this past month. We love nature areas, and thought we had discovered all those that existed in the Phoenix area. Apparently we missed this one! We spent almost 3 hours here exploring, enjoying the habitat and nearby Papago Park.
This 13 acre nature area is located between Collage and Mill Avenues, north of the 202 loop and Tempe Town Lake. You may be familiar with Papago Park (Hole in the Rock); the LoPiano habitat lines the southeastern part of this park, right by Papago Park Playground! You can catch a glimpse of it on the right when driving to the Tempe Town Lake marina. (Note: renting boats can be done by Tempe Beach Park on the south side of the lake.)
The path is paved and great for strollers! We also found a side path that led to a less maintained path system, and took us under the 202 to the lake. The main path (Canal Trail) runs along the stream for about a mile before connecting with the numerous trails in the park. (Note that not all those additional trails are good for strollers.) Portions of the path are shaded depending on the time of day. There’s even some Hohokam ruins to view, if you make your way out of the main habitat and up the hill.
We saw dragonflies, rabbits, a few fish, tadpoles, and a darling mother duck with 8 ducklings. Swimming and wading is prohibited in the habitat. We did find a small “island” to explore, and the kids enjoyed searching for shells and playing. It was interesting to consider the history of the area too – how homes use to line this once main canal in Phoenix in the 1930’s-60’s. When the Salt River was channelized in the early 1990’s, this area was put aside as a habitat. One could say this habitat lies almost at the heart of Phoenix, both literally and figuratively, for hundreds of years.
In the following photos you will see the kids playing in the water. This was in the stream OUTSIDE of the habitat. No signs indicated this was forbidden. The stream was no more than a foot deep, except by the bridge in the park. The water was cool and refreshing! The kids had a blast. If we find out this is not allowed, we will update this post accordingly. Please respect the request to NOT play in the water inside the habitat to protect the wildlife.
To access the LoPiano Bosque Habitat in Tempe, park at Papago Park Playground. From the parking lot, take the main sidewalk south, and it’s less than a 5 min walk. The playground is large, with lots of slides and a huge climbing structure! There is also a small lake that often has ducks. Restrooms located by the lake.
LoPiano Bosque Habitat
525 E Gilbert Dr
Tempe, AZ 85281