The diverse ecosystems of the Rim Country provide the opportunity to view a surprising number of birds. Venture out to various vantage points along the East Verde River or down around Roosevelt Lake and see how many different birds you can spot.
Before you plan your trip, be sure to check for forest closures and restrictions from the Tonto National Forest Service.
Popular Bird Watching Locations
Green Valley Park
Along Lake Drive to the ponds behind the golf course; American Gulch, behind West Main Street is still a good spot in places.
Doll Baby Ranch Road
This area is the west stretch of Country Club that runs along the south side of Green Valley Park and the Payson Golf Course. It is paved just a short way, then becomes dirt and on the rough side, but provides a place to glimpse more of the Rim Country’s feathered residents and visitors.
About four miles north of Payson, take the dirt road toward Flowing Springs and drive to the fenced Forest Service parking and camping area. This area is along the East Verde River.
Located off the Houston Mesa Road. There is a trail and many jeep roads in the area. Nice mix of grassland, juniper, and some chaparral. Generally, fairly level hiking.
Located north of the Control Road. Various species of woodpeckers can be seen in the parking area and at the end of the road. Winter Wren are often seen along the creek.
Woods Canyon Lake
This trail is located off of Highway 260, 32 miles east of Payson. Turn left on Rim Road 300 and go northwest 3.4 miles to Woods Canyon Lake Road, 105. Turn right and go east to Rocky Point Picnic Area. The 4.5-mile loop trail around Alpine Lake is an easy walk on dirt and rock path through shady forest.
See Canyon Trailhead
Located east of Payson, off Highway 260. Take Forest Road 284 to the end. There are several trails along the creek, good riparian habitat, and mixed conifer forest.
Willow Springs Lake
This area offers another pleasant forest walk on a dirt and rock fisherman’s trail. Go east on Highway 260, approximately 34 miles, turn left and go one mile north on Willow Springs Lake Road, 149 to the parking area.
Deer Creek Trailhead
Located 17 miles south of Payson on highway 87. There are three trails out of this area and all are beautiful, however the third trail, No. 48, consistently has some of the best birding in the area, good riparian bordered by semi-desert grassland, and chaparral. Black throated sparrow, lazuli bunting, cactus wren, all three species of oriole, and many others.