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The Gila River Region is located in the central valley of Arizona. The Gila River is one of the oldest rivers in Arizona and flows into New Mexico. The river is one of the only free-flowing rivers in the state of Arizona.[1] The region includes Pheonix, the capital and largest city in Arizona. The area is popular for its year-round sunny skies, parks, and warm temperatures.[2] The region is filled with desert and farmland, along with many urbanized areas with high-end resorts and shopping malls.[4] Summers sustain daily temperatures in the hundreds, while winters average at a comfortable sixty degrees. The desert climate makes it possible for many desert species to thrive in the Gila River Region.[7]

What Phoenix is known for

The Gila River is a tributary of the Colorado River that flows through Arizona and into New Mexico. Some of the river's smaller water branches reach into Sonora, Mexico as well. Indigenous people lived along the river for over two thousand years, and many of the remnants of the complex agricultural societies were established by these natives. The river system has over thirty-six fish species in its waters. The river waters after the spring snowmelt and rainstorms are optimal for fishing. The Gila River is one of the only free-flowing rivers in Arizona. The river winds to desert and mountains alike, and over decades have created ornate patterns and canyon formations due to erosion. These erosion pathways draw visitors from all across the state.[1] 

The Gila River Indian Community is a Native American reservation lying adjacent to southern Pheonix along the Gila River. The reservation was established in 1859 and remains a home for members of the Pima and Maricopa tribes. The community is almost entirely run by itself with its own telecom company, electric utility, and healthcare clinic.[3] 

Pheonix, Arizona, is the largest city in the Gila River Region and is the state capital. The city is filled with serene desert gardens, museums, high-end dining, and shopping. The area is lush with well-maintained grassy commons and palm trees. However, when stepping into the city's outer corners, visitors can explore the desert areas of the city. Hiking, biking, and rock climbing are popular activities among visitors spending time in the Sonora Desert. Guided Tours, sightseeing expeditions, jeep, and ATV rentals are available for visitors wanting to explore the desert land and its geological features. There are many zoos, desert preserves, and parks throughout the city and surrounding areas.[2] 

There are six lakes spread throughout the Gila River Region. Lake Pleasant and Saguaro Lake are popular among tourists, along with Canyon Lake and Apache Lake. Each lake is surrounded by scenic red rock and mountains. During the summer months, the lakes are filled with boats, fishermen, and swimmers.[4] 

The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is located in the western area of the Gila River Region. The refuge was established to protect desert bighorn sheep and covers almost seven hundred thousand acres of the Yuma Desert. Visitors can tour the scenic areas of the sanctuary and see some of the one-of-a-kind wildlife located in the area.[5] 

The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument covers the Gila River Region's southern borders just below the Fortuna Foothills. The monument was created to reserve and locate one of the only areas in the desert of southern Arizona where the senita and organ pipe cactus grow wild.[6] 

For outdoor activities, the optimal time to visit the Gila River Region is from December to May. These months are most temperate, with average weather around sixty to sixty-five degrees and sunny skies. The desert is in bloom, and the weather is cool enough to spend time outdoors all day hiking, biking, and rock climbing. Around nineteen million people visit the Gila River Region every year.[4]


The Gila River Region is located in the center of the Salt River Valley. The area is broad and oval-shaped, bordered by hills and mountains. The Gila River runs through the region along with sandy hills, agriculture crops, and red rock.[1] The region has three major areas, the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge covers the western area of the region, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is in the southern borders, and major cities such as Pheonix, Mesa, and Chandler are to the north and east.[3] 

Summers in the Gila River Region are sweltering and extremely dry, while winters are cool. The skies are mostly clear year-round. The summer season lasts four months, from May to September. The average daily temperature during the hot season is above ninety-eight degrees. The cool season lasts three months, from November to February. Winter has an average temperature of sixty-five degrees. The region gets around nine inches of rain a year and no snow. The rainy season in the state is short, from June to September, but during these months, the rivers in the area are high, and thunderstorms are common. This weather causes flash floods and washouts, which are ideal for fishermen in the rivers. The last snowfall was on December 6th of 1998.[7] 

The Gila River Region is primarily covered in desert land. Because of this, all plants and animals are accustomed to warm weather and dry climates. Common animals, insects, and reptiles include prairie dogs, brown recluse spiders, cactus wren, Mojave green snake, Gila woodpecker, big horned sheep, and scorpions. Closer to the region cities are coyotes, javelina, deer, black bears, skunks, and raccoons.[8] The desert supports a unique ecosystem of plant life, including a variety of trees, shrubs, vines, cacti, succulents, perennials, and grasses. Some common specific plants include the brittlebush, common sage, saguaro, desert marigold, and the bocote tree. The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is dedicated to the preservation of native desert plants in the region, including the senita and organ pipe cactus.[9] 

The state of Arizona is known for its surprisingly nourishing soil, making it possible for the state to produce a variety of plants and crops. Nut and date crops have high rates of production along with leafy greens, cabbage, dates, melons, lemons, oranges, apples, and potatoes. Lettuce is the biggest crop of the entire state of Arizona and comprises up to twenty percent of the state's crop production.[10]


A group of the Pima and the Keli Akimel O'odham have lived on the Gila River banks for thousands of years. The word Gila was derived from the Spanish understanding of Hah-Quah-sa-eel, a Yuma word meaning "running water that is salty." Over the course of a few decades, the indigenous people of the are built large complex civilizations along the Gala River. Spanish explorers were the first to come to the Gila River Region, and in 1848 the Gila River was used as a border between the United States and Mexico. The river is now free-flowing through Mexico and Arizona.[1] 

The Gila River Indian Reservation was established in 1859; the reservation is made up of seven districts and has a population of eleven thousand residents. The reservation was created to make a safe place for Gila River Natives to continue their lifestyle comfortably.[3] The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1939 in an effort to protect desert bighorn sheep and other plants and wildlife native to the Arizona desert.[5] 

The Arizona state legislature donated the land that is now the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in 1937.[6] Pheonix, Arizona, is the capital of Arizona and was settled in 1867 as an agricultural community close to the Gila Rivers. The Nomadic Paleo-Indians were the first to live in the Pheonix area. Since it has been established, the area has expanded to smaller cities and towns.[2] The city is now a popular tourist attraction and is known for its high-end spa resorts, golf courses, and nightclubs.[4]