There is a place just northwest of Phoenix near Wickenburg AZ that draws birders and nature lovers. It is a desert oasis with cottonwood trees, palm trees and a pond where frogs and water fowl are found.
The Hassayampa River Preserve was purchased in 1986 by the Nature Conservancy and is being restored. “In the Sonoran Desert, riparian areas nourish cottonwood-willow forests, one of the rarest and most threatened forest types in North America. An estimated 90 percent of these critical wet landscapes have been lost, damaged or degraded in the last century. This loss threatens at least 80 percent of Arizona wildlife, which depend upon riparian habitats for survival.” http://gosw.about.com/od/bestsightstosee/a/hassayampa.htm
The Hassayampa River courses 100 miles through the Sonoran Desert and most of the water flows underground. It looks like a dry riverbed until you dig down a little ways and feel the moist sand. In the preserve, the waters flow above ground all year. One interpretation of ‘Hassayampa’ is ‘upside down river’.
There are lovely paths where you can find beautiful wildlife, birds (over 280 species have been spotted here) as well as desert plants. It is a great place to meander and enjoy nature.
And be sure to check the hours when you go!