If you’re looking to connect with nature near Gilbert, Arizona, then consider exploring the many local parks where you can enjoy spending time in the great outdoors with your family. In your busy life, there’s nothing better than breaking away from work and disconnecting from screen time to enjoy the beauty of the Southwest. Our Crème de la Crème team invites you to check out five awesome parks near Gilbert, Arizona.

Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

A bird flying above a lake's surface at Riperian Preserve near Gilbert, AZ

Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, Gilbert, AZ by Martin Ely is licensed with CC BY 2.0

Explore a world of scenic views and wildlife spotting at Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, located at 2757 E. Guadalupe Road. The preserve has many pathways and trails for walking or hiking, and you’ll spot birds, bunnies, ducks, turtles, and pelicans along the way. There are paved and unpaved areas, so you can choose your desired surface, and dog-friendly trails are also available.

The preserve has many ponds, lakes, incredible cactus groupings, and beautiful trees. You can’t go wrong snapping a photograph in any direction here, as the preserve has beautiful backdrops and stunning vistas throughout the ranch. The preserve’s hours are from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, with trails open from dawn to dusk.

Gilbert Regional Park

For a park with it all, head to Gilbert Regional Park, located at 3005 E. Queen Creek Road. This gorgeous park is set upon a beautiful 7-acre lake that provides recreational fishing opportunities, including an urban fishing pier and waters stocked with fish like bass, catfish, and bluegill. There’s also a lovely half-mile walking path that goes around the lake.

The San Tan Mountains provide a breathtaking backdrop for the park. There are opportunities for sports and recreation, including tennis courts, basketball courts, a modern playground, pickleball, and sand volleyball courts. There’s also an amphitheater, where you can attend concerts and events, the Sister Cities Friendship Garden with a large art mural, and a ramada that can accommodate large groups of up to 160 people. The ramada has a food prep and grilling area, lighting, roof fans, and power outlets. There’s also a food truck alley where food trucks gather for special events.

One of the biggest attractions is The Falls, a 4,000-square-foot splash pad boasting 57 interactive water features. The water features are geared to all ages and offer large splash buckets, smaller jets, and sprays for the little ones to enjoy. The splash pad is open 365 days a year from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and is lit in the evening, so you can cool down and have fun even after dark. Gilbert Regional Park hours are from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Cosmo Dog Park

If you want to have fun with your furry friend, head to Cosmo Dog Park, located at 2502 E. Ray Road. The park is a paradise for pooches, with the following canine-centered amenities: approximately 4 acres of fenced-in areas, separate areas for active and timid dogs, pet drinking fountains, two dog washing stations, and “Mutt-Mitt” waste disposal stations.

Besides the dog-focused area, the whole park encompasses 17 acres. It has a lake, a lit basketball court, benches, tables, a drinking fountain, restrooms, a playground, and bike racks, along with multi-use walking, hiking, or equestrian trails. If you want to gather and cook out, there are four ramadas you can reserve that have barbecue grills. The park is also lit for nighttime use. Cosmo Dog Park is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., but on Tuesdays, the park is closed for maintenance until noon.

Freestone Park

The 88-acre Freestone Park, located at 1045 E. Juniper Road, has something for everyone. There’s a stocked lake for fishing, four lit adult softball fields, four lit full basketball courts, four lit tennis courts, two multi-use fields, and two lit sand volleyball courts (equipped with water timers to cool the sand so that you can play comfortably, even in the heat). This park also has a dedicated skate park area for skateboarding and in-line roller skating. Additionally, you can find the Freestone Recreation Center within the park, which runs recreational and educational programs and classes for the community.

The park has an amphitheater for concerts and other events. It also has batting cages run by Rip City Batting Cages, where you can practice pitching and hitting. The Freestone Railroad is also a part of the park, and it’s a big hit with kids and families due to its amusement rides and snack bar. The rides include a waterless wave runner, an antique horse carousel, and a mini Ferris wheel. You can visit Freestone Park from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Veterans Oasis Park

Spread over 113 acres, Veterans Oasis Park at 4050 E. Chandler Heights Road in nearby Chandler is the perfect place for a peaceful escape from the daily grind. The park offers scenic hiking, horseback riding trails, a beautiful community fishing lake, tranquil pavilions, and an outdoor amphitheater. This space and its amenities also provide many outdoor recreational possibilities. The park features a plentiful array of unique Sonoran Desert flora and native wildlife. The park is also home to Veterans Memorial: Field of Honor, which pays tribute to Southeast Valley’s past, present, and future veterans.

This location is also home to the wonderful Chandler Nature Center, a place for exploration, learning, and adventure. The center aims to offer affordable leisure and recreational activities, with programs focused on nature, science, and the environment. The center provides a variety of ways for you to connect with your natural surroundings, such as through nature hikes in the park and Meet the Creature exhibits.

Veterans Oasis Park also has a community education garden. Community residents and local educators cooperate to make the garden thrive. The garden provides outlets for social interaction, produces nutritious food, supports self-reliance, and creates opportunities for education, exercise, and fun. The garden encourages children and adults to explore nature and interact with plants and natural materials. 

There’s also a Helpful Hands Gardener Volunteer Program, where you can help sow it forward by helping the city’s garden flourish. This program is available seasonally, meeting on the first and third Friday of the month from 9 to 11 a.m. Summer hiatus is from May 6 to Sept. 16, with park hours offered from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily.

The parks in and around Gilbert offer everything from green space to barbecue pits to walking trails. Our Crème de la Crème of Gilbert team hopes you can find the time to visit one or more of these awesome spots for your next outdoor adventure.