Fun Free Things in Tucson: Sweetwater Wetlands Park

Just off interstate 10 and tucked back into a collection of various commercial buildings, there’s an unexpected goldmine for photographers, birders, and nature enthusiasts.

Originally built as a facility to process water from a reclamation plant, Sweetwater Wetlands Park now serves as an urban oasis for wildlife, an outdoor classroom for students, and a living laboratory for scientists.

Offering over 2 miles of walking paths, restrooms, and several wildlife viewing areas, Sweetwater is a fun way to spend a few hours in any season of the year. Take a self-guided tour with the many informational signs around the property or join the Tucson Audubon Society on their Wednesday walks.

Enjoy seclusion among the trees and water or take a more social walk over on the west side of the park to Tucson’s Chuck Huckleberry Loop.

Sweetwater is open from sunrise to sunset, and in our experience the best times to see the most wildlife are early morning hours. This can of course vary depending on the season and weather conditions, so be sure to check the forecast before you visit.

Fun and free things in Tucson: Bobcats, frogs, ducks, Sonoran ground squirrels, and many more creatures can be viewed at Sweetwater Wetlands Park
Fun and free things in Tucson: Bobcats, frogs, ducks, Sonoran ground squirrels, and many more creatures can be viewed at Sweetwater Wetlands Park

We’ve seen everything from turtles to bobcats at Sweetwater, and each season brings something new. Enjoy colorful leaves in autumn, migratory birds in winter, wildflowers in spring, and a plethora of reptiles in summer. And just like everywhere else in Tucson, you can see mountains from the property as well.

Sweetwater is not only an important part of our desert climate’s water reclamation system, it’s also among the many fun free things in Tucson, too! Tucson Water does an excellent job of maintaining the wetlands and it’s one of our hidden secrets.

Call centers and cattails? What doesn’t Tucson have? If you find yourself in town, grab your favorite drink and a camera and take a walk through Sweetwater. We like our Sigma 150-600mm lens for bird photography, but we’ve gotten a lot of great photos with just a phone, too.