Sweetwater is an excellent example of a constructed wetland designed to be highly accessible to visitors; it is one of the prime places in urban Tucson to see native wildlife. The wetlands, built to re-create part of the wetland and riparian woodland habitat that once flourished along the Santa C...
Roy P. Drachman - Agua Caliente Regional Park
|Description: Agua Caliente Park is named for the perennial warm water spring that supports several ponds, some seasonal, and creates a unique desert oasis. An open lawn is flanked by huge date palms, and the stream bank is lined with mature California fan palms interspersed with native trees and shrubs like Goodding’s willow, mesquite, cottonwood, hackberry, and wolfberry. There are scenic vistas of the Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains.|
Wildlife to Watch: The palm trees provide a variety of habitats: the fruits provide food for raccoon and Gila woodpecker; the palm skirts provide nesting and roosting sites for hooded oriole, great horned owl, and bats. From the shore of the main pond, visitors can view springtime spawning beds of tilapia and largemouth bass. Along the shore, sunny spots may have exotic turtles, such as pond slider and spiny softshell, both introduced species from the eastern United States. Great blue and green herons forage among the cattails of the main pond while the nearby mesquite bosques attract vermilion flycatchers, northern beardless-tyrannulet, and Lucy’s warblers. In winter look for black-crowned night-heron and the elusive sora. A visit to the park between October and March will generally provide close views of more than 11 species of ducks attracted to the open waters. Over 150 species of birds have been identified at the site.
Agua Caliente Park is a great location for enjoying the increasingly popular observation of butterflies and dragonflies. In addition to the aquatic and riparian ecosystem, the park offers easy access to mesquite bosque and desert scrub habitat and associated wildlife viewing. Mule deer and javelina are seen frequently, as are the tracks and signs of striped skunks, bobcat, and gray fox.
Special Tips: A wide range of scheduled educational programs and drop-in interpretive walks are offered at the Historic Rose Cottage. Guided wildlife walks are offered. Binoculars and scopes are available for use during naturalist-led activities. The park is free, open daily, and visitation peaks from November to April.
Other Activities: All trails, wildlife viewing areas, and amenities are accessible; 1 ¼ mile of nature trail is paved or hard-packed crushed stone. A portion of the nature trail that leads away from the main pond has a slight incline that may be a challenge to some users.
Ownership: Pima County Natural Resources Parks and Recreation
Size: 101 acres
Closest Town: Tucson
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: