One of Arizona’s few stretches of riverside ecology preserved in its natural state, the Hassayampa River Preserve, four miles southeast of Wickenburg on US-60/89, is a great place to break a journey. For most of its way, the Hassayampa River runs underground, but here it rises to irrigate a dense forest of willows and cottonwood trees, which in turn shelter an amazing variety of birds—over 200 species, from songbirds to raptors, are listed in the preserve’s birders’ guide. Lots of lizards are here too, along with bobcats.
The Nature Conservancy, which owns and operates the preserve, runs a small visitors center (928/684-2772, Wed.-Sun. 8am-5pm winter, limited hours summer, $5), where you can pick up trail guides and maybe join a guided walk.