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Tres Rios Wetlands
Tres Rios is a constructed wetland complex for wastewater treatment at the confluence of the Salt, Gila, and Aqua Fria Rivers. Its waters and created habitat have made this a premier birding area, providing winter habitat for many species of waterfowl in close proximity to the metropolitan Phoeni...
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Desert Botanical Garden
Description: Nestled amid the red buttes of Papago Park, the Desert Botanical Garden hosts one of the world’s finest collections of desert plants. This one-of-a-kind museum showcases acres of beautiful outdoor exhibits. Home to 139 rare, threatened, and endangered plant species from around the world, the Garden offers interesting and inspiring experiences to more than 250,000 visitors each year. A surprising number of wildlife species makes the garden their home and depending on the time of year, visitors may be treated to any number of resident or visiting “critters.”

In 1938 a small group of Valley citizens gathered in Papago Park to create a botanical garden that would encourage an understanding, appreciation, and promotion of the uniqueness of the world's deserts, particularly the Sonoran Desert. The Garden continues to build on its legacy of environmental stewardship and has become nationally and internationally renowned for its plant collections, research, and educational programs.

The Desert Botanical Garden is home to the world’s finest and most diverse collection of succulent plants. Five thematic trails with hands-on activities and interpretive signs welcome visitors. A “Phoenix Point of Pride,” the Desert Botanical Garden is one of only a few botanical gardens accredited by the American Association of Museums.

Wildlife to Watch: The Desert Botanical Garden is one of the most accessible birding areas in Phoenix where visitors can easily observe many of the more common Sonoran Desert species. Garden plants provide birds with nesting sites and materials, food (seeds, nectar, insects) and places for shelter from predators. Because of the year-round blooming season, nectar is always available and seeds are always ripening.

It would be difficult to find a better location for relaxed viewing and photographing of birds. Gila woodpeckers excavate holes in the giant saguaros for their nesting cavities. Cholla cacti provide support and spiny protection for the cactus wren’s nest. Curve-billed thrashers sing from the tops of the totem pole cactus, while verdins flit around the paloverde trees in search of insects. White-winged doves build nests of twigs on the limbs of trees or on cacti, often near the paths. Gambel’s quail spend their days touring the Garden looking for food. Many migratory birds and birds of prey visit the Garden for short respites or searching for food. You may see multiple varieties of hummingbirds with Anna’s, Costa’s, and black-chinned being the most common. Red-tailed and Harris’s hawks are often observed soaring high over the Garden. Birders may also find a western screech-owl at the entrance to its saguaro cavity as it warms up in the early morning sun. Many small mammals such as Harris’ antelope squirrel, round-tailed ground squirrel, rock squirrel, desert cottontail, and coyote can be viewed by garden visitors. During warmer months, a variety of lizards and other reptiles frequent the grounds including tiger whiptail, desert spiny lizard, ornate tree lizard, zebra-tailed lizard, gophersnake, coachwhip, and common kingsnake.

Docent-led bird walks are held every Monday morning. During the cooler seasons (October through April) the bird walks are held at 8:00 a.m. During the warmer months (May through September) the bird walks are held at 7:00 a.m.

Butterflies from around the world can be viewed among beautiful flowering plants in the Butterfly Garden. Check their website for dates that the Butterfly Garden is open; the Butterfly Garden is highly recommended.

Special Tips: Additional fees applly for Butterfly Garden.

Other Activities: Five easy trails up to 1/3 mile in length teach about desert life: the Desert Discovery, Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert, Desert Wildflower, Center for Desert Living, and Sonoran Desert Nature Trails.

Ownership: Desert Botanical Garden 
Size: 145 acres 
Closest Town: Phoenix

Facilities:
RestroomsParkingHikingPicnic tablesVisitor CenterHandicap AccessibleFeeDrinking Water

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:
SpringSummerFall

Gilded Flicker - photo by Bruce Taubert
Map
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Driving Directions:
8 miles east of Central Avenue in Phoenix; from central Phoenix, drive east on McDowell Road, turn right on Galvin Parkway and follow signs. Alternate route: from central Phoenix, drive east on Van Buren Street, turn left on Galvin Parkway and follow signs.

Map Link

 
Desert Botanical Garden : Wildlife Viewing Area