Located among the beautiful scenery of lower Oak Creek, the Page Springs Preserve offers outstanding wildlife viewing and recreational opportunities. Northern Arizona Audubon has partnered with Arizona Game & Fish Department to provide a wonderful bird sanctuary designed for easy public access. A recently completed nature trail, 1.8 miles overall, with signs describing riparian habitat and wildlife, meanders through the preserve and along Oak Creek. The trail is a great place to see wildlife and is maintained by NAAS volunteers. Northern Arizona Audubon is currently involved with an ongoing enhancement project for the area and has constructed a large ramada complete with picnic tables for public enjoyment and built a teaching area for environmental education programs at the Split Willow section of the trail. Other improvements, including more signage and viewing platforms, are a work in progress. Visitation to the area is from dawn to dusk seven days a week.
Page Springs Fish Hatchery:
At 82 acres, this is the state’s largest cold-water fish production facility, producing nearly 700,000 trout a year. Rainbow trout is the main fish species raised at the hatchery. A small number of brown trout are also produced. The trout are stocked in surrounding streams and rivers, including Oak Creek, Verde River, West Clear Creek and Wet Beaver Creek, during fall, winter, and spring months when water temperatures are cool.
The property also includes a smaller warm-water hatchery, Bubbling Ponds. The Bird Sanctuary is accessed from the Bubbling
Ponds parking lot. In recent years, Bubbling Ponds produced sensitive species such as Razorback Suckers and Colorado Pike Minnow used by the department in native fish conservation and recovery efforts.
Bathroom facilities are located ½ mile south at the main Fish Hatchery complex.There are no camping facilities at the Preserve. However, camping areas are available nearby on Forest Service lands, or at Arizona State Parks such as Deadhorse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood.
Birding: The Audubon Society has identified the habitat at Page Springs and surrounding riparian area along lower Oak Creek as an Important Bird Area. Over 200 bird species have been
counted here. Some common birds in the area are the Black-crowned Night-heron, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Osprey, Common Black-hawk and Clark’s Grebe. Along the nature trail, numerous migratory species have been seen. Click here for a useful check list of bird species.
Fishing: While the hatchery is closed to angling, fishing is allowed along the Oak Creek section of the Black-hawk Trail.
Mammals: Skunks, raccoons and even river otters occasionally stop by to sample trout. Mountain Lions have been known to take deer on the property. In the surrounding uplands, Mule and Whitetail Deer, Elk, Javelina and Black Bear also occur.
Reptiles: The Northern Mexican Garter-snake is a threatened
species found in the densely vegetated wetland habitat within the preserve. The snake is active during warmer months of the year and may be observed foraging for frogs, tadpoles and native fish near the ponds at Bubbling Springs. The snake is not poisonous and is quick to find shelter when people are present. They will emit a foul smelling musk from glands at the base of the tail when threatened.
Invertebrates: The Page Spring-snail is found only at Page Springs, from which several main springs and other minor springs arise. This snail typically occurs on firm substrates such as rocks, vegetation, floating algal mats and submerged woody debris.
Page Springs Preserve is an easy drive from either Sedona or Cottonwood. The Preserve is located on Page Springs Road five miles south of the 89A/Page Springs Road intersection and just north of where the road crosses Oak Creek. Look for the Bubbling Ponds sign and enter the parking lot.