Best Spot for Biking, Birding, and Landscape Painting

Things to Do and See at El Rio Riparian Open Space Preserve

Local Birding Hot Spot Meets Local Biking Highway

More than 220 bird species have been identified at the 104-acre El Rio Preserve. El Rio Preserve is important as one of the remaining riparian areas along the lower Santa Cruz River. Most of Arizona’s riparian habitat (areas with water and thick vegetation) has been lost to agriculture, development, and other uses, while over half of our bird species depend on these riparian areas.

Now, with The Loop newly completed, a 131-mile paved multi-use trail for bikes, pedestrians, horses, and other non-motorized vehicles, you can get there from all corners of the greater Tucson area!

El Rio Preserve has a still lake that reflects the rugged outline of the Tucson Mountains and mature Cottonwood trees that act as perches to majestic Snowy Egrets and many other shore birds. This makes it a perfect place for a picnic and plain air painting.

El Rio Preserve has a covered ramada and is a nice resting place or destination along the newest section of the Loop Trail, which links Tucson, Marana, Oro Valley, and South Tucson.

How to Find El Rio Preserve

This site is located on the north side of Coachline Blvd. and just east of Old Silverbell Road. El Rio Preserve lies between the northern end of the Tucson Mountains and the Santa Cruz River.

To Get There:  Take the Twin Peaks exit from I-10, and go west to Coachline Blvd. Turn north on Coachline Blvd and follow it until you come to a nice parking lot on the north side of the road.

Little-Known Facts About El Rio Preserve

  • It has archaeological significance – this site is at the north end of Los Morteros, an important archaeological site on Pima County land. The site has mortar holes used to grind mesquite beans during the Hohokam Classic Period, from around A.D.800 to 1300.
  • A regional wildlife linkage that was identified by Paul Beier, Northern Arizona University and by the Arizona Game and Fish Department runs through El Rio Preserve, connecting the Tucson 

Broad-billed Hummingbird

good birdwatching trees Marana birdprints in sand Marana

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