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Hassayampa Preserve & Wickenburg Area

Wickenburg is a tourist destination presenting an original Old West Town, and certainly the downtown area gives that feeling. There are several dude ranches, art galleries, museums, and the usual gift and curio shops. The biggest attraction for a naturalist however is the Hassayampa Preserve located about 5 miles southeast off US 60. Here the Hassayampa River flows permanently allowing for a magnificent gallery forest of Fremont Cottonwoods and Gooddings Willows. This is so special because this habitat type in Arizona has been largely destroyed as water has been diverted to agriculture, mining, and cities. This is a Nature Conservancy preserve where attention to riparian habitat preservation and restoration is the focus. Native fish are maintained in ponds and efforts to reintroduce them are under way.

View Larger Map. Preserve headquarters is located at flagged house icon. Food and lodging is available in Wickenberg. North of Wickenberg is another area featured on the Sonoran Desert Naturalist, Hassayampa Box Canyon. The Wickenber Mountains northeast of town offer many hiking possibilities. The Heiroglyphic Mountains at right in the map is protected as Hell's Canyon Wilderness.

From Phoenix the fastest driving route is via SR-74, the Carefree Highway. Otherwise US-60 from Sun City is okay but might involve a lot of traffic congestion.

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Water Color © by Mike Plagens

At the Preserve you are likely to spot the striking blue-black Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor. It is a characteristic insect in riparian areas throughout much of Arizona. The caterpillar feeds only on the fascinating and unusual plant, Aristolochia watsoni.

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Spring Wildflowers along Vulture Mine Road (obs. March 4th, 1998)

Head west from Wickenburg on US 60 about 3 miles to Vulture Mine Road. A well-maintained road, it can be traveled south to the old Vulture Mine and the Vulture Mountains. The drive is very scenic and in spring time there can be great shows of wild flowers. The following were found in March 1998, a banner year:

White Flowers

  1. Arch-nutted Comb Bur -- Pectocarya recurvata
  2. Lacepod -- Thysanocarpus curvipes
  3. Flat-topped Buckwheat -- Eriogonum fasciculatum

Pink/Lavender Flowers

  1. Red-stemmed Fillaree -- Erodium cicutarium
  2. Bigelow's Four O'Clock;Desert Wishbone Bush -- Mirabilis laevis

Yellow Flowers

  1. Brittlebush -- Encelia farinosa
  2. Desert Rock Pea -- Lotus rigidus
  3. Wolfberry -- Lycium exsertum

Purple-Blue Flowers

  1. Eucrypta spp.
  2. Lupine -- Lupinus sparsiflorus
  3. Blue Dicks -- Dichelostemma capitatum

Orange Flowers

  1. Orange Fiddleneck -- Amsinckia intermedia
  2. Desert Globe Mallow -- Sphaeralcia ambigua

Green Flowers

  1. Triangle-leaf Bursage -- Ambrosia deltoidea
  2. Jojoba -- Simmondsia chinensis
  3. Hairy Bowlesia -- Bowlesia incana
  4. Pellitory -- Perietaria hespera

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