The best access to the Cienega Creek Natural Preserve is now called the Gabe Zimmerman Davidson Canyon Trailhead. It's just off Marsh Station Road. (Take Interstate 10, Exit 281.) You're going to need a permit, but they're free. (Call 877-6158.) Seems like a lot of work to teach your kid the art of doing nothing—but just get in the car. The perennial creek lined with mature cottonwoods and willows attracts lots of desert wildlife. The rocks along the creek are excellent habitat for frogs and lizards. An afternoon along the creek just watching, talking and listening: It's an art form we need to practice more often. You'll argue that that's not nothing, but compared to what we do at home, it's nothing—and it's amazing. A suggestion: If you bring the kids, put some little dollar-store fish nets and empty jars in the back for examining creek life.
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