The Rio de Flag wetlands is made up of a marsh north of I-40, a stream that flows under I-40, and a pond to the south. Since the wetlands are fed with both runoff and treated effluent, this is one of the most dependable wetlands around Flagstaff. The effluent is fully treated and safe for the wildlife and does not have an odor. Plants that are normally found in damp ground grow in a cliff face at the north end of the marsh because of a small seep through the rock. The Flagstaff Urban Trail leads north and west through a beautiful canyon to Sawmill County Park. 

What You'll See

Waterfowl and wading are commonly found in the pond and the marsh, while riparian and wetland birds enjoy stream habitat. Waterfowl, wetland-riparian- forest songbirds, raptors, marsh birds, elk, Abert's squirrels, and fox all inhabit the area. 

Getting There

Rio de Flag Wetlands can be accessed from the FUTS trailhead at Lone Tree and Brennen Circle, or through the Sawmill County Park via a trail down into the canyon from Willow Bend Nature Center. The area can also be accessed at the end of S. Babbitt Drive by walking down the access road past the water treatment plant. 

Hike roughly one mile east to the start of Rio de Flag Wetlands; another quarter mile will take you past the ponds and prairie dog colony. 

Helpful Tips


Interpretive signs, FUTS access. 

Access Info

Access only on foot or bicycle via the FUTS. 


In this AWWE audio guide, learn about the importance of reclaimed water that feeds the stream and pond here from David McKee (City of Flagstaff), as well as the best seasons to go bird watching, and what to look for with Chuck LaRue. Get tips on identifying dragonflies and damselflies from Larry Stevens (Museum of Northern Arizona).

Narrated by Rose Houk, recorded and produced by Diane Hope with funding from the AZGFD Heritage Fund. Recording of northern water thrush call courtesy of Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 


City of Flagstaff