Travelers who glimpse a swath of green along the interstate skirting central Arizona’s Black Canyon City may not realize they are missing a gem. Black Canyon Heritage Park celebrates the riparian beauty that is especially precious in the midst of our desert, but that is just one part of the area’s water story. Find out more by visiting Water/Ways, a traveling exhibit made possible by the Smithsonian, Arizona Humanities and Arizona State University!

The riparian environment nurtured by the Agua Fria River

Birds stop along Black Canyon City’s Agua Fria River and its tributary, Black Canyon Creek, because they offer ideal breeding habitat and a break from long migrations. Endangered fish thrive in the flowing waterways. People visit Black Canyon Heritage Park to hike, relax, and learn about conservation and history along the Agua Fria. Established in 2006, the park conserves a portion of the riparian corridor and raises awareness of issues that impact the entire watershed.

The Agua Fria River starts in Prescott Valley and traces a route through Black Canyon City.  A few miles farther south the river is dammed to form Lake Pleasant, a reservoir crucial to the Phoenix area’s water supply. Water in the Agua Fria is also affected by development to the north, in the fast-growing region around Prescott. Black Canyon City residents are caught between these competing pressures, exploring creative ways to protect the waterway that defines their community.

Agua Fria River watershed exhibit in Black Canyon City

Don’t miss these Black Canyon City Water/Ways events!

January 13, 4:30 to 6:00 PM: Learn more about Black Canyon City’s water history from Glen Vortherms. The General Manager of Maricopa Water District presents “Agua Fria River Surface Water Rights History, 1888 to Present” at Cañon Elementary School in Black Canyon City. You can view Water/Ways in the exhibit space next door!

January 23, 5:00 to 6:00 PM: Watch compelling short films at Water/Ways Movie Night! Entries include Sleeping Giant, a Black Canyon City documentary; Sharing the Colorado River; and Don’t Waste Wastewater from the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation. At Cañon Elementary School in Black Canyon City.

January 25, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM: Celebrate water stories at WinterFest and BookFest. Indulge in over thirty exhibits on conservation, water, and history! At Black Canyon Heritage Park in Black Canyon City.

Through January and February: Catch local talent with water art and story displays, in the lobby at the Black Canyon Community Health Center.

Until January 26: Experience Water/Ways at Cañon Elementary School in Black Canyon City! Open the following dates and hours:

Photos courtesy of Black Canyon Heritage Park

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