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National Wildlife Refuges


The Yuma area is home to one of the country's largest complexes of national wildlife refuges. The Southwest Arizona Refuges Complex includes the Kofa, Cibola and Imperial refuges, which encompass and protect more than 700,000 acres - over 1,000 square miles - of desert, mountain and riparian habitat.

Downloads:

Imperial National Wildlife Refuge Brochure
SW AZ Complex Vicinity Map
Kofa Map


Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

Where: 40 miles north of Yuma, east of Highway 95

What: 665,400 acres of desert, Kofa & Castle Dome mountains

When: Established 1939

Watchable wildlife? Bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, desert kit fox, American kestrel, white-winged dove, northern flicker, Say's phoebe, cactus wren, phainopepla, and orange-crowned warbler.

Highlight: Arizona's only native palm trees grow in Palm Canyon, the most-visited spot on this vast refuge

Camping: Allowed, some restrictions, no improved facilities

Hunting: Allowed in season per refuge rules & state laws

Fishing: Not applicable

Offroading: Vehicles on designated roads only; travel by foot or horseback only in wilderness areas

Pets: On leash except hunting dogs

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Directions: No visitor center or facilities; go north on Highway 95, watch for signs. The refuge is on east side of road from about Mile 55 to Mile 95.

Complex and Kofa NWR office: 9300 E. 28th Street, call 928.783.7861
More Information


Imperial National Wildlife Refuge

Where: On Colorado River north of Martinez Lake

What: 25,768 acres of desert upland and river shoreline

When: Established 1941

Watchable wildlife? Look for cinnamon teal and northern pintail in winter months, great egrets and muskrat year round. Dawn and dusk best times to catch bighorn sheep and mule deer heading to river to drink.

Highlights: Visitor center, observation tower, river lookouts, boat launch

Camping: Not permitted

Hunting: Allowed in season per refuge rules & state laws

Fishing: Permitted per refuge rules & state laws

Offroading: Vehicles on designated roads only; travel by foot or horseback only in wilderness areas

Pets: On leash except hunting dogs

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Directions: Take Highway 95 north to Martinez Lake Road, then west about 10 miles and watch for signs for refuge, to right on Red Cloud Mine Road.

P.O. Box 72217, Yuma, AZ 85365, or call 928.783.3371.
More Information


Cibola National Wildlife Refuge

Where: On Colorado about 40 miles north of Yuma

What: 18,300 of riparian habitat

When: Established 1964

Watchable wildlife? More than 288 species of birds, including endangered southwestern willow flycatcher and Yuma clapper rail; desert tortoise, mule deer, bobcats and coyotes.

Highlights: Visitor center, 3-mile auto tour loop, 1-mile nature trail

Camping: Not permitted

Hunting: Allowed in season per refuge rules & state laws

Fishing: Permitted per refuge rules & state laws

Offroading: Vehicles on designated roads only

Pets: On leash except hunting dogs

Cibola Map

Directions: From Blythe (Calif.), go approximately 3 miles west on I-10 to Neighbors Boulevard/78 exit, then south on Neighbors 12 miles to Cibola Bridge. After crossing bridge, continue south 3.5 miles to headquarters.

66600 Cibola Lake Road, Route 2, Box 1, Cibola, AZ 85328, 928.857.3253
More Information


Palm Canyon Trail

[Excerpted from Kofa National Wildlife Refuge Web site, for more info click here]

Perhaps the only native palm trees in Arizona are tucked away in narrow, rugged canyons on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. This short hike takes you near a stand of these unique plants, called California fan palms, Washingtonia filifera.

Since palms do not produce annual growth rings like shade trees, it is difficult to say how old the trees might be. They are able to survive in the narrow side canyons because direct sunlight is limited but some moisture is available.

The most prominent trail leads to a small sign on a slightly elevated area near the middle of the canyon. Look upward in the narrow, north-trending side canyon to see the palms (well-lighted for photos for a short time at midday, shaded the rest of the day).

The main grove has about 42 trees, about half of which are adults, with a trunk of 20 feet or more. In 1954, a fire roared through the grove and seriously damaged the trees. Fortunately, most palms survived and the grove has a good chance of maintaining itself as young trees become established.

It is a rugged climb up to the palm trees. If you decide to try it, plan on an extra 30 to 45 minutes to get up to the trees and back to the bottom of the canyon.

You may see a variety of wildlife as you walk along the trail. Watch the skyline for bighorn sheep . These agile mammals may be seen, usually early in the morning, moving along ridge tops or staring down at you.

Birds are numerous for most of the year in Palm Canyon. Watch for gnatcatchers, brown towhees, and thrashers flitting about in the underbrush. Swallows can be heard calling back and forth as they dart about over your head or you notice the musical call of the canyon wren. High above turkey vultures or a golden eagle occasionally soar into view.

Directions: Take Highway 95 north to Palm Canyon Road (mile marker 85, about 63 miles north of Yuma). Go east about nine miles toward a large mountain, climbing to a parking area that offers sweeping views over a huge area of desert. The road is passable in a passenger car, but will be a rough ride. The half-mile foot trail into the narrow canyon starts at the upper end of the parking area. The trail is easy to follow but is rough most of the way, with large rocks and some steep sections. Allow an hour for your round-trip hike; leave pets secured outside your vehicle those unfamiliar with cactus may run into trouble. Overnight camping is allowed at the parking area.

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