The Nature Conservancy protects a Freemont cottonwood/Gooding willow riparian forest—one of the best and last remaining examples of this lush landscape in Arizona—on about 750 acres along perennial Sonoita Creek (520/394-2400, www.nature.org/arizona , Oct. 1–Mar. 31 Wed.–Sun. 7:30 a.m.–4 p.m., Apr. 1–Sept. 30 Wed.–Sun. 6:30 a.m.–4 p.m., $5 pp).
This small green paradise has six miles of easy trails leading through the forest, with its 100-foot-tall 130-year-old cottonwoods—the biggest and oldest in the country—and along the creek. The birding here is excellent, and it’s not uncommon to see deer, bobcat, toads, and frogs in this verdant preserve.
Friendly Conservancy volunteers lead nature walks every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. This is an extremely rare ecosystem, one that was once abundant in Southern Arizona but now has all but disappeared.