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Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery

Forest Lakes Estates, Arizona 85931
Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery webpage

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Gila County

Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery
Coordinates: 34.2901442, -110.8079875
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Birding in Arizona

About Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery
Canyon Creek, an outstanding high elevation riparian community just under the Mogollon Rim, is a very popular fishing and birding destination. Canyon Creek Hatchery is one of Arizona’s five fish hatcheries and is built at the headwaters that feed into Canyon Creek. In 2000, a large wildfire swept through much of the country surrounding the hatchery, destroying many large trees. After the fire, elk, deer, and other wildlife species moved into the area to take advantage of the lush growth that resulted from the burn.

Wildlife to Watch: Canyon Creek is an excellent place to view elk, mule deer, turkey, waterfowl, trout, and a wide range of riparian birds, especially during the spring migration. You may see black-chinned, broad-tailed, and rufous hummingbirds, Mexican spotted owl, northern goshawk, red-naped sapsucker, acorn woodpecker, western bluebird, belted kingfisher, and American dipper. The cottonwood and willow stands along the drainage attract many nesting birds including common black and zone-tailed hawks, Cassin’s kingbird, black phoebe, American robin, Virginia’s and MacGillivray’s warblers, black-headed grosbeak, and Brewer’s blackbird. Elk, mule deer, Merriam’s turkey, and Abert’s squirrel can be seen year round; there is a possibility of seeing black bear in summer. In winter and spring, bald eagles may forage at the hatchery show pond. It is not uncommon to see 5-6 eagles at one time. Canyon Creek is home to rainbow and brown trout, and many of the small fish that can be seen from the shore are speckled dace, one of Arizona’s native fish species. Greater short-horned lizards and plateau lizards are common sights on the rocks and in the woodlands surrounding the hatchery and creek. Hikers are likely to see terrestrial garter snakes, canyon treefrogs, or Arizona toads on any warm weather walk along the creek.

Special Tips: The access road is a winding dirt road that can be closed to access during wet or snowy conditions. This road is best traveled with high clearance vehicles.

Other Activities: No formal trails but wildlife can be viewed by walking the forested area along the creek. There is a self-guided tour of the hatchery work areas; hiking routes at the hatchery are paved but grades are steep.