An eMagazine about wheelchair-accessible events, sports & locations in Arizona

Gilbert, Arizona Offers a Great Park For Wheelers and Birders

To a guy from the northside of Phoenix, the east valley might as well be in another state. There’s towns over there I have never even been to in 35+ years. So after shooting a fencing camp in Mesa two weeks ago I went by the Gilbert Water Park. I’ve heard of it from numerous people and wanted to see whats the story.

Peggy Thomas

Peggy Thomas

One of those people is Peggy Thomas. Twenty-five years ago she was probably one of the first quads who rolled into my hospital room. Not too long after that she let me fly her para-sail off into the wild blue yonder. And due a slight malfunction, I literally almost did so, but that’s another story. These days she’s big time into birding, or bird watching, and she publishes an informative blog about birding for people who roll around ( So we met up for an afternoon jaunt and I got to learn about the various birds that reside at the park.

The place is commonly called the Gilbert Water Ranch which is the short version for “The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch.” The 110 acre compound consists of seven large water basins used to recycle effluent water. Next to a nearby library is one urban lake that features a nice walking bridge. This is the one lake stocked for fishing. The place gets five big stars for wheelchair accessibility. Its got good parking, plenty of shade, and many miles of wide smooth paths to roll around.

One of my favorite spots is the artificial creek they’ve got flowing through the middle of the park. It’s well designed for wheelchairs to forge in a few places, and nobody gets uptight if your pooch wonders in to one of the little pools for a cool down. By advised that amongst those casually enjoying this great place is some serious ‘birders’ and photographers who are busy holding very still and being quiet for a reason, so consider turning of the cell phone and practice some quite rolling when you get deeper into the park.

And finally, the park has a rare treat for wheelers. A roll-in astronomy observatory called the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory (GRCO) that features an accessible 16″ telescope. We observed Mars near dusk and the astronomy club members that maintains the telescope were plenty happy to help us squeeze two chairs in to get a photo.

Thanks, Peg!

Tagged as:

Leave a Response

What Acessing Arizona Is All About

Accessing Arizona is primarily designed for people who are looking for wheelchair accessible events, locations and activities. If you have paralysis (paraplegic or quadriplegic), Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Bifida, or if you are an amputee, Accessing Arizona has information about an active lifestyle.
If you are traveling to Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Sedona or the Grand Canyon, the site offers insight about the accessibility. We cover trails, lakes, state parks, national parks and just about anything claiming to be handicapped accessible. The site also covers sports and recreation in Arizona.
From racing to rugby, from basketball to sled hockey, we cover all the local sports teams. Note: All photographs and essays are copyright Accessing Arizona, unless noted otherwise. Individuals may copy photos for their personal use provided the photo includes a text link back to For commercial or editorial use, please contact the editor.