Over the next century, climate change will dramatically alter natural resource management. Specifically, historical reference conditions may no longer serve as benchmarks for restoration, which may foster a “why bother?” attitude toward ecological restoration. We review the potential role for riparian restoration to prepare ecological systems for the threats posed by climate change. Riparian ecosystems are naturally resilient, provide linear habitat connectivity, link aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and create thermal refugia for wildlife: all characteristics that can contribute to ecological adaptation to climate change. Because riparian systems and the projected impacts of climate change are highly variable geographically, there is a pressing need to develop a place-based understanding of climate change threats to riparian ecosystems. Restoration practitioners should consider how they can modify practices to enhance the resilience of riparian ecosystems to climate change. Such modifications may include accelerating the restoration of private lands, participating in water management decisions, and putting the emerging field of restoration genetics into practice.