Back Country Byways traverse scenic corridors that are off the beaten path. The Parker Dam Road "Thread of Life" highlights the scenic, natural, historic, and prehistoric values along an 11 mile (18 km) road that travels along the California shore of the Colorado River. This area has attracted people, wildlife, and vegetation along a linear oasis, creating the Thread of Life. The byway provides an abundance of recreation activities including camping, swimming, boating, fishing, rock hounding, hiking, OHV play areas, and wildlife viewing.
A valid Arizona license is required for taking wildlife (including fish) in Arizona. Details are available at the Arizona Game and Fish License Page.
Directions: The byway begins at Parker Dam and travels along the Parker Dam Road south to the boundary of the Colorado River Indian Reservation. Look for interpretive pullouts along the way.
Day Use Areas: The public can access the river at several day use areas. Most are along the Parker Dam Road. No fees for day use except where noted.
- Cable Car: river access with parking - no facilities
- Quail Hollow: river access, tree-shaded picnic areas, Back Country Byway site.
- Bullfrog: river access, swimming beach, shaded picnic areas, pit toilet. There is a $5 day use fee.
- Empire Landing: river access, tree-shaded tent areas, outdoor shower, restrooms. There is a $5 day use fee.
- Rock House Boat Ramp: river access, boat launch facility, pit toilet.
- Bass Point: river access - no facilities
- River View (AZ): river access, picnic table, chemical toilet.
Public Camping: There are two public campgrounds on the Parker Strip where camping along the Colorado River is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is a 14-day stay limit at each campground. In addition to existing rules and regulations, there are supplemental rules which are used to help manage this site.
Empire Landing Campground
Located along the Colorado River, the campground has 12 undeveloped campsites with picnic tables. Pit toilets are provided. This less developed camping area has a $5 use fee, which includes overnight camping. An on-site BLM volunteer campground host can help you if needed.
Directions: Located about eight miles south of the Parker Dam on the California side of the Colorado River. Look for the BLM sign.
State Parks: Two State Parks, River Island and Buckskin Mountain, are located on the Arizona side of the Colorado River along the Parker Strip.
Concessions: These private resorts located on leased public lands along the Parker Strip provide many recreation opportunities and facilities. Most include camping, boat ramps, swim beach, stores, restaurants, laundry, and longer-term mobile home spaces.
Directions: Concessions are located on the California side of the Parker Strip. From north to south they include: Sunshine Resort, River Lodge, Big Bend Resort, Echo Lodge, Windmill Resort, Rio del Colorado, Desert Riviera, Emerald Cove and River Land Resort.
Open OHV Areas: There are two open off-highway vehicle areas on the California side of the Parker Strip. These are open play areas. The sites include parking area, unloading ramp, and vault toilets. Vehicles must be street legal or have state required off-highway vehicle stickers (if appropriate by your state).
More OHV information
Directions: Copper Basin Dunes OHV Area is located about five miles south of the Parker Dam across from Big Bend Resort. Crossroads OHV Area is located about seven miles south of the Parker Dam across from Empire Landing Campground.
Other OHV Access: Except for the Open Areas located on the Parker Strip, all OHV users must remain on existing roads and trails. Please respect the Colorado River Indian Reservation boundary along the south side of the Parker Strip.