National Wildlife Refuges
Three national wildlife refuges in the Yuma area—Cibola, Imperial and Kofa—make up one of the country’s largest contiguous protected areas for wildlife. With more than 1,000 square miles between them, their ecosystems include desert, desert upland, riparian, grasslands, and forest.
If you’re looking or desert critters, you could see: Desert Sidewinders, Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes, Chuckwallas, Desert Horned Lizards, Desert Iguanas, Red-spotted Toads, Desert Hares, Bighorn Sheep, Mule deer, various fish, bats, grebes, white-winged doves, Great Blue Herons and Snowy Egrets, Pacific Flyway migratory songbirds, quails, roadrunners, golden eagles, Peregrine falcons, Canada and Snow Geese, Gila monsters, Desert Tortoises, badgers, foxes, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, coyotes, pronghorn, bobcats, mountain lions, wild burros and wild horses, and many more critters, too.
Cibola National Wildlife Refuge
What and where: 18,444 acres of riparian habitat on the Colorado River
Wildlife to watch: More than 288 species of birds, desert tortoise, mule deer, bobcat and coyote
Highlights: Visitor center, 3-mile loop auto tour, 1-mile nature trail, overlook
Directions/Info: From Blythe, Calif., go to approximately 3 miles west on I-10 to Neighbors Blvd./Exit 78, then south 12 miles to Cibola Bridge. After crossing the bridge, continue south 3.5 miles to headquarters. FWS.gov/refuge/Cibola, 928.875.3253
Imperial National Wildlife Refuge
What and where: 25,768 acres of desert upland and river shoreline on the Colorado River
Wildlife to watch: Look for cinnamon teal, northern pintail, great egrets, muskrat, bighorn sheep, and mule deer.
Highlights: Visitor center, observation tower, river lookouts, boat launch, guided walks November-March
Directions/Info: Take U.S. Highway 95 north to Martinez Lake Road, then west about 10 miles, north on Red Cloud Mine Road, watch for signs to the visitor center. FWS.gov/refuge/Imperial, 928.783.3371.
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge
What and where: 665,400 acres of desert and mountains 40 miles northeast of Yuma
Wildlife to watch: Bighorn sheep, mountain lion, desert tortoise, desert fox, many species of birds
Highlights: Arizona’s only native palms grown in Palm Canyon, download a trail guide about the half-mile hike up to see them
Directions/Info: No visitor center or facilities. Go north on U.S. Highway 95, watch for signs between mileposts 55 and 95. FWS.gov/refuge/Kofa, 928.783.7861.