Tommy J. DeBardeleben

New River Nature Reserve

Fast Flight Facts

Target Species:  A combination of riparian and desert species; migrants

Elevation: 2100'

Habitat:  Cottonwood/Willow Riparian, Mesquite Woodland, Lower Sonoran Desert

Overall Birding Rating: 4

Difficulty: 1-3 (Easy to Moderate)

Birding Type: Easy to Moderate Hiking

Facilities:  Parking

Fees/Ownership:  None/New River

Closest Town or City/How far from Phoenix:  New River /35 miles north of Phoenix

Getting there:  Accessed by taking frontange road off of 1-17 and north for a few miles to Preserve entrance 

Overview:  The New River Nature Reserve is located in the northern part of Maricopa County in the town of New River.  It is a medium-sized preserve that is productive for birding very often.  If one is driving north on the 1-17 north of Phoenix and through New River, a large patch of willow and cottonwood riparian trees is very evident when driving adjacent to the Reserve.  As the habitat looks very attractive just by passing by it on the 1-17, it is just as attractive being in the Reserve and birding it.  A stream flows through the Reserve year round, and the lush riparian habitat is very healthy.  The willow and cottonwood riparian forest runs for almost a half mile, and is really the only major green around for miles.  Thus, it will serve as a migrant trap, and will be good for riparian species year round.  What also makes the New River Nature Reserve an interesting birding destination is the surrounding habitats.  Other than the riparian forest, the Reserve features mesquite woodland, washes, and is mainly surrounded by Lower Sonoran Desert.  With that combination, one will see a good variety of different birds on any given day or few hours of birding in the morning. 

Once parking in the parking area for the Reserve, one will take the trail north and start off by walking through mesquite woodland and the trail will quickly be on the east side of the riparian habitat.  One can find easy access to view the riparian trees all along the trail at various points.  The trail will soon go out into the Lower Sonoran Desert, where one can explore the main trail or many side trails/dirt roads that go through the area.

Birding Tip:  The New River Nature Reserve is birded best with an earlier start in the morning.  To get the best results out of a birding outing here at this location, try birding all of the habitats slowly that are found along the trail.  Visit during spring and fall migrations to see a lot more migrants and diversity.  The New River Nature Reserve is surrounded by a lot of private property which is owned by the town of New River.  Do not trespass and maintain good behavior here, especially when being around those homes.  To get a better understanding of this location, review the directions below or the maps of this location under the Pages category on this page.

Directions:  The New River Nature Reserve is located 35 miles north of Phoenix.  To get to the Reserve, take the 1-17 north of Phoenix.  A good indication of getting close to the Reserve is marked when you pass Anthem, which is 7 or 8 miles south of New River.  Once in New River, take the New River Road exit, exit 232.  Then, turn right (east) for a short distance on New River Road.  Then make a left and head north on what is the frontage road and what eventually turns into Old Stage Road.  Stay on this road as you are heading north to the Reserve.  Once you pass the New River Elementary School, the road turns into a dirt road (well maintained).  Keep following this road.  Once you see a ranch called Willow Hill Ranch, you are getting very close to the Reserve.  Old Stage Road then comes to an intersecton point and parking area, where there are many mailboxes for the town as well as the intersection with Coyote Pass Road.  Park at the noticeable pull offs here and then walk north on Old Stage Road to access the Reserve and it's birding habitats.


New River Nature Reserve Maps


Scenes and Sights from New River Nature Reserve:

Birdlife from New River Nature Reserve:

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Brewer's Sparrow

Anna's Hummingbird

Special thanks to Steve and Joan Hosmer for showing me and teaching me about the New River Nature Preserve.


Back to Other Maricopa County Birding Areas

Birding in Maricopa County

An online guide to the birds and birding locations of Maricopa County


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