Desert Access Guide - Points of Interest
INDIAN PASS ROAD
East of Ogilby Road, Indian Pass Road provides numerous opportunities for recreation. The road extends east, dropping into Gavilan Wash. Following the wash east, leads to Picacho State Recreation Area. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended in Gavilan Wash. Indian Pass Wilderness and Picacho Peak Wilderness border Indian Pass Road and Gavilan Wash. The Indian Pass area has been designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). Please respect all posted signs.
INDIAN PASS WILDERNESS
North of Gavilan Wash, Indian Pass Wilderness is a distinctive part of the Chocolate Mountains. This range extends from south central Riverside County to the Colorado River near Yuma, Arizona. Jagged peaks and spires are sliced by mazes of twisting canyons that carry water from occasional desert cloudbursts. Hiking into the wilderness through tree-lined washes is a rewarding experience. Excellent views of desert geology can be found in the wilderness. Fields of desert pavement cover large portions of the landscape. The rugged landscape and availability of water make this area ideal habitat for desert bighorn sheep.
PALO VERDE MOUNTAINS WILDERNESS
Distinguishing this wilderness are twin buttes known as the Flat Tops, which stand out as a landmark against a range of jagged peaks. Palo Verde Peak is the highest point of the range rising to 1,800 feet. Dry washes cut across the mountain slopes, supporting such vegetation as palo verde, mesquite, and ironwood. Clapp Spring and its palm oasis are unique to this area. The spring offers the only permanent water source to such wildlife species as desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, and wild burros. Rather than hide among the canyon walls as most springs in the desert, Clapp Spring lies in an open landscape.
HAUSER GEODE BEDS
This is a popular rock hound area for small round geodes, petrified palm root, jasper and agate. Look for previously dug holes or shallow trenches, but stay clear of the deeper holes with dangerous overhangs which may collapse. Camping is available along mesquite-lined washes or at BLM's Coon Hollow Campground just north of the county line. For more camping information contact BLM Palm Springs South Coast Field Office.
COON HOLLOW CAMPGROUND
Coon Hollow Campground is located on Wiley's Well Road, three miles south of the Bradshaw Trail National Back Country Byway and Wiley's Well Campground. It is a popular retreat for "snowbirds" within the Mule Mountains Long Term Visitor Area. The campground is a year-round facility with 28 campsites, and provides picnic tables, grills, shade ramadas and handicapped-accessible vault toilets. However, potable water is not available on site. A trailer sanitary station is located two miles north of the campground on Wiley's Well Road. For more information, contact the BLM Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office.
BRADSHAW TRAIL NATIONAL BACK COUNTRY BYWAY
In the early 1860's, mining equipment and supplies were transported by ship from San Francisco to the gold mines of La Paz, Arizona via the Gulf of California and the Colorado River. Gold was shipped back to San Francisco via the same route, but each trip's duration was quite lengthy. To hasten the transport of supplies and gold, William Bradshaw sought an over land route. Following the direction of local Indians, a stagecoach route, soon to be known as the Bradshaw Trail, was established and used extensively between 1862 and 1877. Beginning at Dos Palmas near what is now the Salton Sea, the trail crossed Chuckwalla Valley en route to Bradshaw's Ferry on the Colorado River. Reduction of gold mining in La Paz after 1877, along with completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad line to Yuma, Arizona, virtually eliminated use of the Bradshaw Trail. Today, it is a maintained route, but use of a four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended. Use extreme caution to avoid entering the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range located immediately to the south.
MULE MOUNTAINS LONG TERM VISITOR AREA
Mule Mountains LTVA encompasses 3,424 acres and includes both Wiley's Well and Coon Hollow Campgrounds. This LTVA is located on Wiley's Well Road, nine miles south of Interstate 10. The Bureau of Land Management established eight Long Term Visitor Areas in the Arizona and California deserts to accommodate visitors who wish to camp for the entire winter season. Visitors wishing to stay in a Long Term Visitor Area must purchase a long-term permit (valid for September 15 through April 15) or a short-term permit (valid for seven or fewer consecutive days). Permit holders may move from one LTVA to another without incurring additional fees. For more information, contact the BLM Palm Springs- South Coast Field Office.
WILEY'S WELL CAMPGROUND
Wiley's Well Campground is located on Wiley's Well Road, nine miles south of Interstate 10. It is adjacent to the Bradshaw Trail National Back Country Byway and within the Mule Mountains Long Term Visitor Area. This historic waterhole has served explorers, prospectors, cattlemen and, most recently, "snowbirds." The campground was named for A.P. Wiley, owner of a small outpost store and postmaster at Palo Verde in the early 1900's. The campground is a year-round facility with 14 campsites, and provides picnic tables, grills, shade ramadas and handicapped-accessible vault toilets. However, potable water is not available on site. A trailer sanitary station is located two miles south of the campground on Wiley's Well Road. For more information, contact the BLM Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office .
TRIGO MOUNTAINS WILDERNESS
Located 25 miles north of Yuma, this wilderness is characterized by sawtooth ridges, steep- sided canyons, and dissecting washes. Popular activities include horseback riding, backpacking, hiking, sightseeing, and rock climbing. These activities are enhanced by the topographic diversity, scenic character, as well as botanical, wildlife, and cultural values of the area. More information may be obtained from the BLM Yuma Field Office at (928) 317-3200.
CIBOLA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Cibola National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1964 to preserve and enhance wintering grounds for waterfowl and other migratory birds. Over 200 species of birds are found on the refuge, including many species of songbirds. Recreational opportunities include fishing, hunting, boating, and wildlife viewing. Camping and off-road vehicle travel are not permitted on the refuge. For special regulations and more information contact Cibola National Wildlife Refuge at (928) 857-3253.
Along the Colorado River, approximately 25 miles south of Blythe along State Highway 78, is Walters Camp. Walters Camp is a BLM concession providing public recreational opportunities through private sector investment. It is a popular starting point for fishing, boating, hunting, and canoeing trips. Amenities include RV hookups, boat launch, showers, store, handicapped accessible rest rooms, and showers. Maximum length of stay is 150 days per year. For more information contact the BLM Yuma Field Office at (928) 317-3200.
IMPERIAL NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Adjacent to Picacho State Recreation Area, Imperial Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941 to protect and preserve plant and animal life found in the lower Colorado River region. About half of the refuge is designated as wilderness. Recreational opportunities include hiking, boating, wildlife viewing, fishing, and hunting. Camping and off-road vehicle travel are not permitted on the refuge. For special regulations and more information contact Imperial National Wildlife Refuge at (928) 783-3371.
PICACHO PEAK WILDERNESS
This wilderness is characterized by three distinct areas. Massive dark gray mountains in the western portion, small peaks and large washes in the northeast, and a rolling benchland in the south. Several natural pools of water in the wilderness provide an oasis for a variety of desert wildlife including desert bighorn sheep.
PICACHO STATE RECREATION AREA
Located along the Colorado River, Picacho State Recreation Area offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Various water sports and fishing are the most popular activities. The area also supports an abundance of plants and animals. Gambel's quail, roadrunners, coyotes, and desert bighorn sheep inhabit the area. The best access to the area is from Picacho Road. For more information contact Picacho State Recreation Area at (760) 393-3052.
YUMA PROVING GROUND
The Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) is a military testing reservation located north of Yuma. Although several roads cross YPG, the proving ground is not open to the public. Do not turn off or stray from these roads. Obey all road signs. Although closed to the public, YPG allows hunting on limited portions of the installation. For more information on the hunting permit system, contact the YPG Wildlife Biologist at (928) 328-2148.
KOFA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
North of Yuma on Highway 95, near the town of Quartzite, lies the Kofa NWR. Established in 1939, the refuge encompasses 665,400 acres of pristine desert land. Approximately 78% of the Kofa Refuge is designated as wilderness. Two extremely rugged mountain ranges dominate the refuge. These ranges and surrounding desert plains provide ideal habitat for a variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep. Hiking, sightseeing, photography, wildlife viewing, and nature study are popular activities on the refuge. You must obtain refuge regulations before entering the refuge. While camping is permitted on the refuge, there are no campgrounds and certain rules and regulations must be followed. Please remember that all vehicle traffic is limited to designated roads and off-road vehicle travel is prohibited. For special regulations and more information contact Kofa National Wildlife Refuge at (928) 783-7861
OXBOW RECREATION SITE
This is a popular recreation site providing a diversity of recreation opportunities. Fishing and wildlife viewing are popular year round. Summer season use is focused primarily on watersports such as power-boating and jet-skiing. Facilities available at the Oxbow Recreation Site include a boat ramp, restrooms and trash containers. This site is located adjacent to popular waterfowl hunting areas. The rugged landscape and availability of water make this area ideal habitat for many types of wildlife. For more information contact the BLM Yuma Field Office at (928) 317-3200.
AREAS OF CRITICAL ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERN (ACECs) Certain lands managed by the BLM, have been designated ACECs. ACECs are areas that contain significant natural, archeological, or historical resources. Please respect all signs regarding ACECs and their management.