There’s no better way to have fun as a family than by spending time together outdoors by the water. Even if you don’t associate our home state with tons of water, the area in and around Gilbert actually offers an array of great waterways to explore. Whether you’re interested in fishing, boating, or just relaxing by the water while looking for wildlife, our local surroundings have you covered.
Not sure where to go? Crème de la Crème of Gilbert takes the guesswork out of making plans with this list. We’ve pulled together six great waterways to check out with the kids.
“Family outing at the beach” used with permission via Unsplash by sallydixoncreations
Head over to Gilbert’s Discovery Park when your family is craving a day of fishing. This 48-acre park, named for the Columbian Mammoth fossil discovery that occurred during construction, boasts plenty of opporutnities for fun. You’ll want this park on your list of places to visit thanks to its wide range of amenities, including basketball courts, sand volleyball pits, multi-use fields, trails, and more.
The highlight for eager anglers is the two ponds, stocked as part of a cooperative program between the Town of Gilbert and Arizona Game and Fish. The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Community Fishing Program stocks community fishing lakes throughout the year so locals can enjoy fishing recreation. As a result, the two ponds in Discovery Park, which use reclaimed water, are stocked with catch and keep fish. Look forward to reeling in species such as:
- Channel catfish.
- Largemouth bass.
- Rainbow trout.
- White amur (grass carp).
Another Gilbert park with a lake stocked thanks to the Community Fishing Program, Freestone Park makes planning a family day fishing close to home a breeze. The Town of Gilbert’s first major district park now spans 88 acres, including a 5-acre lake area stocked with catch and keep fish.
After a busy day fishing, you can relax with the kiddos at the shaded picnic tables, or head over to the open picnic tables with barbecue grills. This fun park also features batting cages, the Freestone Railroad, and so much more. All in all, it’s the perfect place to visit the water and keep the whole family happy with a variety of activities.
Gilbert Regional Park
Pickleball courts, sand volleyball courts, and tennis courts are just the start of the fun you’ll find at Gilbert Regional Park. The lake here is yet another local one stocked through the Community Fishing Program.
Gilbert Regional Park boasts a 7-acre lake complete with an urban fishing pier, so you can count on this local spot when you’re planning a day out and about with the kids. The lake is stocked with a variety of fish, including bass, bluegill, and catfish, for recreational fishing opportunities. If you just want to take in the beauty of the water, you can also go for a family stroll along the half-mile walking path surrounding the lake.
McQueen Park offers another local option for fishing thanks to — you guessed it — the Community Fishing Program. The park’s 41 acres feature trails, courts, two tot lot play areas, and so much more. You can even reserve one of the 12 ramadas with barbecue grills for a fun outdoor gathering, then enjoy time fishing with loved ones.
The 2-acre lake at McQueen Park uses reclaimed water, and like its counterparts in Gilbert’s park system, it’s stocked with various catch and keep fish. Another words, this park is yet another one to have on your list of places to visit when the kiddos are interested in spending a day at a waterway, without traveling far.
Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch
Families that love the great outdoors will delight in a day at Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. This Town of Gilbert community attraction was developed in 1999 as a recreational and educational area as well as a facility for water reclamation and a wildlife habitat.
It’s a great place to go for fishing in the area since it’s part of the Community Fishing Program, too. From rainbow trout to sunfish, largemouth bass to farm-raised channel catfish, you’ll find them all on the water here. Keep in mind that Water Ranch Lake was converted to catch-and-release-only for bass and sunfish, so you’ll need to immediately release bass and sunfish unharmed. Trout, catfish, and other species are catch and keep.
Of course, you don’t need to go fishing to take advantage of this great place. The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch boasts native riparian, marshlands, and upland vegetation areas, making it the perfect home for a wide range of Arizona wildlife. Amphibians, mammals, reptiles, and butterflies call Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch home, as do a stunning array of birds. That makes Water Ranch one of the best birding locations in all of Maricopa County. You’ll have the chance to spot amazing rarities when you pay a visit to the preserve.
A bird watcher’s paradise, Riparian Preserve has had nearly 300 bird species identified. The National Audubon Society even designates the preserve as an Important Bird Area in Arizona. You’ll also find a designated garden for hummingbirds and butterflies, so you’ll never run out of nature to explore with the kids. The urban recreational lake also includes a floating boardwalk at the northern end to get a close-up view of ducks and fish.
Make the trip to Saguaro Lake for even more water-based fun. Tonto National Forest, home to this lake, makes for a great day trip when you’re looking for a way to enjoy the water. Saguaro Lake offers a gorgeous setting for your day at the water thanks to its location in the Sonoran Desert. Rimmed with canyon walls, the shores display Saguaro cacti and offer the perfect place to plan a family outing.
Seeking out water activities? You can enjoy both motorized and non-motorized boating as well as waterskiing at this lake. In the mood for fishing? You can find a variety of species with lake and pond fishing here, including:
- Channel catfish.
- Largemouth, smallmouth, and yellow bass.
- Rainbow trout.
- Yellow Perch.
That wraps up Crème de la Crème of Gilbert’s list of local waterways! Do you have a go-to place we didn’t include? Let us know so we can add your favorite place for fishing, boating, or other water activities with the family.