Gilbert, AZ, is not just a city known for its sunny skies and warm climate; it’s also a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. The area around Gilbert offers a variety of activities that allow you to explore local wildlife. Let’s embark on a journey through some of the best local wildlife spots near Gilbert, AZ, perfect for families looking to connect with nature and have fun in the cooler months.

Desert animals near Gilbert, AZ

Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert is a must-visit for bird enthusiasts. With over 300 species of birds sighted in this 110-acre space, it’s recognized as part of the Arizona Important Bird Area Program. The preserve offers guided bird walks and is an excellent spot for families to explore the biodiversity of the area, making it a perfect outdoor winter activity.

Winter Fishing at Water Ranch Lake

Water Ranch Lake, part of the Riparian Preserve, is open for public fishing and is stocked with various species like trout and catfish. Winter fishing can be a peaceful family activity, offering a chance to enjoy the outdoors and perhaps catch dinner!

Observing Wildlife at the Riparian Preserve

The Riparian Preserve’s wetland habitat is home to more than just birds. Families can spot raccoons, desert cottontail rabbits, Sonora mud turtles, and various insects like dragonflies and butterflies. It’s an educational experience for kids to learn about different species and their habitats.

Winter Walks and Educational Trails

The Riparian Preserve offers educational panels along its trails, providing information about the local vegetation and wildlife. Winter walks along these trails can be both educational and a great way for the family to stay active.

Pollinator Gardens and Bee Watching

The Riparian Preserve features a pollinator garden where families can learn about the role of bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies in seed production. Winter is a great time to explore these gardens and learn about the importance of pollinators.

Winter Camping at Riparian Preserve

The preserve offers group campsites for a unique winter camping experience. Families can enjoy a night under the stars, surrounded by nature, and wake up to the sounds of birds and other wildlife.

Desert Safari in Gilbert Neighborhoods

Exploring the neighborhoods of Gilbert can be like going on a mini safari. From spotting Desert Spiny Lizards to observing Anna’s Hummingbirds and White-winged Doves, the local fauna in Gilbert’s urban areas offers a unique wildlife experience. It’s a great way for families to learn about the animals that thrive in the desert environment.

Stargazing at the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory

Located next to the Gilbert Library, the observatory offers public viewing hours for families to explore the night sky. Observing stars, planets, and constellations can be a magical winter activity, especially during the cooler, clearer nights.

Photography and Nature Journaling

The diverse wildlife and beautiful landscapes around Gilbert provide ample opportunities for photography and nature journaling. Families can document their winter adventures and create lasting memories.

Educational Programs and Workshops

Various educational programs and workshops are offered at the Riparian Preserve and other local venues. These programs can be a fun and informative way to spend a winter day, learning about local wildlife and the environment.


Gilbert, AZ, and its surrounding areas offer a wealth of opportunities for families to explore local wildlife and enjoy winter activities. From birdwatching at the Riparian Preserve to stargazing at the observatory, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. And for families looking for exceptional childcare and early education, Crème de la Crème  in Gilbert provides programs that complement these outdoor adventures. Discover more about their offerings at cremedelacreme and see how they can be a part of your family’s journey in exploring the natural wonders of Gilbert.

Photo by Dušan veverkolog on Unsplash