Riparian Preserve in Gilbert

NOTE: this post was published during the COVID19 outbreak. Please use discretion when going out in public, and double check that the preserve is still open before visiting. Stay safe and healthy!

The Riparian Preserve in Gilbert is a 110 acre wetland and wildlife sanctuary that is free to the public, and a nature oasis for anyone wanting to get away from city life! With 7 ponds (some are not always full however), flat hiking trails, a fishing lake, children’s play areas, an observatory and more, this is a must visit stop in the East Valley.

A preserve is an area of land set aside for wildlife and vegetation to thrive. There have been over 250 species of birds spotted in this area alone, along with many fish, reptiles, mammals, etc. The trails are suitable for strollers, some are paved, and meander around the ponds for 4.5 miles. The most popular trail directly behind the library goes along the fishing pond, and has a short boardwalk type bridge.

Visitors will find various viewing areas, some with benches, to better spot wildlife. There’s also a fun children’s area including a dinosaur dig and a play area, with an observatory nearby. Note: the play area isn’t your typical playground. It’s a huge wall with colorful designs, so unique!

We absolutely love this pocket of nature! It’s peaceful and refreshing to just let the kids lead and explore at their own pace, especially the trails along the east side of the preserve. Many of the trails are shaded too, making it a good choice for slightly warmer months. You can also fish from one of the ponds (the larger one behind the library) with a license.

Nature wise, what will you find at the Riparian Preserve? It can vary with the time of year. But as an example, here’s a list of our nature finds from our March visit:

8 bunnies
1 squirrel
Canadian geese with 6 babies
An egg
Bird nests
Cottonwood trees with “cotton”
A dragonfly
3 feathers
19 turtles 

The Riparian Preserve in Gilbert is free of charge and open dawn to dusk. Parking is also free. If the main parking lot off of Guadalupe is full, try the parking lots associated with the next door Gilbert Regional Library. There are several paths leading behind the library to the preserve. Restrooms are located just south of the main parking lot, with a drinking fountain as well.

The observatory is open in the evenings on Friday and Saturday. For more information on programs available, click here.

Riparian Preserve
2757 E Guadalupe Rd
Gilbert, AZ 85234
(480) 503-6234


Here are some other great nature and hiking trails that kids will love!

Jana is a homeschooling mother of three children, and lives in Scottsdale with her husband, Chris. She enjoys traveling, reading and coffee. Follow @phoenixwithkids on Instagram for daily photos around Phoenix!

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