Azaiampa is a Native American word from the Hohokam people which means “water that is hidden.” The settlers in the area changed the word to Hassayampa because it sounded more Spanish. One of the translations of “Hassayampa” is “the river which flows upside down.” In either case, it marks the spot of a river that flows mostly underground through the Sonoran Desert for nearly 100 miles, except within the confines of the Hassayampa River Preserve. Mysteriously, within the Preserve, the crystal waters rise to the surface and flow above ground throughout the year, creating an amazing oasis in Central Arizona.
Visiting Hassayampa River Preserve is a fun and unique experience when touring the Southwest U.S. and Arizona. The presence of water creates a lush riparian environment and supports one of the few cottonwood-willow forests in North America, a startling contrast to the dry desert terrain in which it sits. The waters also attract over 280 species of birds, including the Harris Hawk, the Yellow-Billed Cuckoo and the Vermilion Flycatcher. Bobcats, mule deer, javelina, raccoons, ring-tailed cats and even mountain lions find the waters attractive, as do a host of smaller creatures like dozens of species of lizards. Spring-fed Palm Lake is a four-acre pond and marshland habitat, where you can hear the croaking of frogs in most seasons — a rare sound in the desert.
Hassayampa River Preserve offers self-guided trails leading you along lush river bottoms and across flood plains. The gentle sound of the leaves stirred by a breeze is accompanied by nearly continuous bird song. The Arthur L. Johnson Visitor’s Center offers interactive displays on desert and riparian ecology and details on the species and plants that thrive in these environments. By calling ahead, you can find out when docent-led guided walks are available.
The Preserve is owned by the Nature Conservancy, an international non-profit conservation organization. The mission of the Nature conservancy is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.
Hassayampa River Preserve
49614 Highway 60
Wickenburg, AZ 85390