Rio Salado Rules & Regulations
Salado Habitat Map
Salado Habitat Fact Sheet
Trailhead Guidelines and
about the history and restoration of Rio Salado
us at Rio Salado Habitat and Restoration Area
Checkout our bird list!
Cottonwood tree reflecting in an unusually calm Rio Salado
The Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area offers a mix of paved and dirt trails. Most trails are relatively easy and feature smooth surfaces and moderate to minor grades.
Rio Salado simple map
Rio Salado detailed map
Rio Salado printable tri-fold map
The trailheads listed below provide access to the paved trails. We also
recommend calling the Ranger Office at (602) 262-6863 or (602) 262-6713 (tty)
with any questions or concerns before heading out to the area.
All trailhead parking areas are open from sunrise to sunset, or to 7 p.m.;
whichever comes first seasonally:
- 2439 S. Central Ave. (Northeast corner)
- 3212 S. 7th Ave. (Southwest corner)
- 2801 S. 7th Ave. (Equestrian Staging)
- 2875 S. 7th St. (Southeast corner)
- 3203 S. 16th St. (Southeast corner)
While visiting Rio Salado, please remember that the area is a habitat
restoration project; remain on designated trails, do not enter the ponds or
river channel, remove rocks or flowers, disturb wildlife, throw rocks into
ponds, and keep dogs on leashes on the hard surface (asphalt trails).
Please note that leashed dogs are allowed on the hard surface (asphalt)
trails only. The primary goal of the project is to re-establish sensitive
riparian habitat that disappeared from the Valley decades ago. Please do your
part to allow the habitat to thrive and grow by keeping your dog on a leash and
removing and properly disposing of all pet waste.
Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center
Rio Salado Audubon Center
Mason Pulliam Rio Salado
Center Calendar of Events
Opened in October 2009, the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center is a
nature center in the heart of the City of Phoenix’s Rio Salado Habitat
Restoration Area, a 600-acre park along the historic Salt River. Located less
then two miles from downtown Phoenix, the Center is a gateway to a lush Sonoran
riparian habitat used by over 200 species of birds and other wildlife—beavers,
muskrats, coyotes, jackrabbits, cottontails, and javelinas—to name a few.
The free admission Center offers interactive exhibits, an interpretive loop,
connections to the Rio Salado Habitat’s sixteen miles of hiking and riding
trails and a variety of hands-on nature programs, including beginning birding
classes and bird walks, school field trip programs and more. Address: 3131 S.
Central Ave, Phoenix, 85040, (602) 468-6470.
Milkweed was planted to attract
In September Monarchs were spotted returning to Rio Salado for the fifth
consecutive year. Record heat tipping 111 degrees in September kept the
butterflies near the river in Cottonwood and Willow trees to keep cool. In
October when the temperatures finally dropped, monarchs appeared near the
waterfall and the thicker tree canopy where they have spent the winter in
previous years. They have also been spotted west of Central Avenue near the
river in deep pockets of Seep Willow and Sunflowers. Recently five to ten
monarchs have been spotted daily flying above the Desert Milkweed, Asclepias
subulata, near the waterfall alone.
Last Spring the number of Monarchs
returning from overwintering grounds in Mexico and California is the lowest
number ever recorded. In the East, monarchs had a favorable summer breeding
season and numbers appear to be rebounding but still remain below average. In
the West, reports of breeding monarchs have been limited and their numbers are
unknown. Likely due to the record heat in the Phoenix area, monarch egg-laying
was limited in September but increased as the temperatures cooled in October.
November brought a surge of freshly enclosed monarchs and they continue to glide
through Rio Salado and other riparian areas in higher numbers than previous
years as well as in backyard gardens.
To help protect the Monarchs at Rio
Salado 18 monarch-lovers planted 21 Desert Milkweed and placed signs around the
overwintering site on December 5 last year. Desert Milkweed, Asclepias subulata,
is a host plant for monarchs butterflies, a place where they will lay their eggs
in the spring and fall, and is a common desert plant. New signs were placed in
paths that developed in the protective thicket of trees. Breaking the tree
canopy can fracture the fragile temperature moderating ecosystem where the
monarchs stay during the winter much like leaving a door open on a very hot or
very cold day in your house. Your support is greatly appreciated to stay only on
the marked trails and refrain from walking in this important habitat to preserve
this fragile ecosystem.
Educational and Interpretive Programs
Click on the link below to browse or register for
programs. You may also call (602) 262-6863 or (602) 262-6713 (tty) for more
or register for On-line Programs
Group Visits &
Educators will find the Rio Salado
Habitat a great resource for their students. If your group is looking for a
specialized program, please contact us as we can help coordinate an educational
opportunity especially for you. To inquire about a group visit or field trip,
call (602) 262-6863 or (602) 262-6713 (tty) or complete and submit an "Activity
Learn about the wonders of Rio
Get more information on future improvement projects in this
Tres Rios Recreation Components
Design and construction of trails,
trailheads and other recreation components at the Tres Rios Wetland project.
Funding Source: Office of Arts and Culture, Water
Services Department and Army Corps of Engineer
Contact: Chris Ewell (602) 534-5292
Rio Salado Oeste Project
Planning, design and construction of ecosystem
restoration project of Rio Salado between 19th and 83rd avenues. Planning phases
are complete and design drawings will be in development for the next two to
Federal, Bonds and Phoenix Parks and Preserve Initiative
Contact: Chris Ewell (602) 534-5292
The Learning Circle left, made
of recycled cement, and the walking bridge over the Rio Salado