I have wanted to check out Hassayampa River Preserve in Wickenburg for quite a while now, but I was afraid that we wouldn’t before the hot weather hit. Luckily, we were surprised with a very cool May Day, and had to shoot up to Wickenburg. It is off of Rt 60 (Grand Avenue out of Surprise) and is on the Southeast bound side. A little nerve wracking crossing traffic, but there is a little area to scoot in and wait for traffic to pass. At 65 Plus miles and hour.
We had actually passed the Hassayampa River Preserve so many times our our way to Wickenburg, but until lately, I hadn’t really checked out what it was. I saw on the side of road the “binocular” sign, so I thought it was just a look-out place.
The Hassayampa River mostly is underground through its 100 mile trek, but it comes to the surface here in Wickenburg. Now, the Hassayampa River Preserve is also part of the Vulture Mountains Recreation Area.
Lately, the Hassayampa River Preserve has been posting different classes, tours and walks that they are providing, so it really piqued my interest.
We took a drive up and it still looks pretty desert-y. Just 30 minutes from Surprise, there is still a ton of desert around us, but the River Preserve is kind of a cool hidden away spot with green areas! Tall trees, bushes, brush and SHADE! Even better, Running water. Well, slowly trickling water.
It isn’t a ton of water, but it is cool, running and clear!
But lets back track a bit to the entrance area. I just wanted to get you excited about water!
The bathrooms are two stalls (for women) and area away from the visitors center. There is a nice shady area for picnics and relaxing, and parking. The restrooms were fully functional (not port o potties) and were extremely clean. No changing areas in the bathrooms.
The beautiful Visitor’s Center looks like a gorgeous house. It had very welcoming things to do for young hands. But speaking of young hands, you may be wondering about strollers!
My thoughts on strollers for this park-If you have a jogger stroller, you are good to go on the Palm Lake Loop at least. Other strollers may struggle with the ground as it is sand (almost beach like!) or rocky sand. You may find yourself very frustrated with any other type of stroller. I don’t recommend side by side strollers as getting through the visitors center and down the ramp out of the visitors center may be too tight.
Outside of the visitors center was a beautiful desert garden and sitting area.
Inside the Visitors center was a wonderful Nature center as well-Pretty much everything was touchable! It was a $5 admission (as of 2018/May) per adult. Since I was the only adult, and sometimes that’s debatable, it only cost us $5 to go in!
There were bones to touch, things to read and items to guess and feel (what Giggles and Munchie are doing). Super cool set up and totally kid friendly. You can also see dried bugs (all in cases). Some were huge. I wish we could have read more of what was there, but we had anxious kiddos who wanted to get walking! Also available was water and a few drinks in case you forgot to bring your own.
I like including the map if I can on our side, and we have it! The one we got was black and white, but the online version is in color.
The Palm Lake Loop is the most accessible loop. If you have a stroller or a little one, this one will be the easiest for you. The Lake is manmade and has water, but very little fish and wildlife. There are places the little ones can get into the water, so of course you will want to be wary. The water at this point is not very clear either. However, much of the trail is very wide and flat!
Of course, Munchie wanted to play with my emotions and climb this wall. Eeh. But, it was a cute place to sit and watch the Cattails!
Giggles did some reading.
We went on the Lion Trail and Lion Trail. The Lion Trail requires you to go across the little bridge over the water. There are also stairs down to both the River Ramble and Lion Trail which are not easily done with a stroller. I would skip these if you don’t have a partner. The sand can also be pretty deep as well. We didn’t do Lykes Lookout as we were having a potty emergency (It wasn’t me for once!). We will have to check that out next time we go to Hassayampa River Preserve.
The trails also have overhanging logs and branches all over, which may make it difficult to get around. You also will meander on the riverbeds as well.
The Lions trail also gets you RIDICULOUSLY close to the RailRoad! We actually watched a train go by, but we weren’t right next to it. Honestly, I think I would be a bit terrified.
You can kind of see a line of rocks, although depth perception its kind of hard to tell. Well, the trail goes along a cliff, that is right next to the park. Munchie asked me “What if the train falls off the tracks?” I looked wide eyed back at him and said “We won’t be that close when we hear a train!”. We did get to see it go by from about 200 feet away. That was close enough!
Riverbeds and walkways.
And really, really tall trees! Which is amazing to see. The trees were also creaking as they swayed, which completely scared Mr. Munchie. He forgot the sounds of the state park that was behind our house in Connecticut. The trees would creak a lot, especially on windy days of course.
The dry riverbeds were really cool to look at. You could tell where the water has been shaping its course. There were also some areas that were very shady and there was algae. Different plant species from just 30 minutes away were abundant. We were also instructed to watch out for snakes, but we didn’t see any. We also saw some squirrels, which for some odd reason is very exciting to me! They were puffy grey squirrels just like back east!
We also spoke a lot about the river and riverbeds. Since we homeschool, we make every single place we go a learning experience. Yes, I am that mom! I don’t know Hassayampa’s closing procedures for bad weather, but I can’t imagine that they would open during a rain storm as there can be pretty destructive flash flooding in this area. If you are newer to Arizona, you will want to heed flash flooding alerts, as they do come and can be pretty terrifying. But, this is an amazing park when it is DRY!
The Center’s Hours (Summer 5/7-10/8 ) Wed-Sun 7am-4pm, trails close at 3:30pm and Winter (10/9-5/6) Wed-Sun-8am-5pm trails close at 4:30pm, Monday and Tuesdays are closed. No Dogs allowed.
The Hassayampa River Preserve also has a ton of different classes and events for kids and adults! You’ll want to check out their site and Facebook page! And While you are near downtown Wickenburg, you may want to check out the Desert Caballeros Museum or Sunset Park in Wickenburg
49614 US Hwy 60 89