river map & access
finding your way to the water
- Mittry Lake Wildlife Area
- Squaw Lake
- Senator Wash Dam and Reservoir
- Fisher's Landing
- Martinez Lake Resort
- Imperial National Wildlife Refuge
- Ferguson Lake
- Picacho State Recreation Area and
- Cibola National Wildlife Refuge are located further North, above the top edge of the river map
There are miles of shoreline to be explored along the Colorado River – but dam construction has made it a little tricky to find your way to deep water. Here’s a quick guide to upstream access points:
Mittry Lake Wildlife Area (A) lies between Laguna and Imperial dams northeast of Yuma. With 750 acres of water surrounded by 2,400 acres of marsh and upland, this is a birding and fishing hot spot with 10 piers, restrooms, two boat ramps; no improved facilities, but camping is allowed (check with BLM). There’s a 1/2-mile nature trail at Betty's Kitchen Interpretive Area at south end of lake.
By land: Take Highway 95 east to Avenue 7E, follow Avenue 7E north past Laguna Dam (about nine miles, pavement ends, 7E becomes Laguna Dam Road). Betty's Kitchen is to left just past dam, or continue north to boat launch. More info: Bureau of Land Management, (928) 317-3200.
Imperial Dam area, California side:
Squaw Lake (B) is a day-use and camping area with accessible restrooms, outdoor showers, fire rings, drinking water and boat ramps; camping limited to 14 days in a 28-day period. Senator Wash Dam and Reservoir (C) is an off-stream reservoir that allows water skiing, sailing and fishing, with a boat ramp and camping facilities (summer visits limited to 14 days in a 28-day period).
By land: Follow S24 north from Winterhaven and look for signs; at main fork,signs will point west to Imperial Dam, Senator Wash; go past Senator Wash to reach Squaw Lake. More info: Bureau of Land Management, (928) 317-3200.
Imperial Dam area, Arizona side:
Fisher’s Landing (D) ((928) 539-9495), is operated by a private company as a BLM concession. There’s a bar and restaurant, bait shop, fuel dock, convenience store and RV camping. Fisher’s also is the launch site for trips operated by Yuma River Tours ((928) 783-4400).
Martinez Lake Resort (E) ((928) 783-9589) is one of the only areas of private land along this part of the river, and offers lots for sale. The resort includes a cantina, restaurant, lodging and camping. It also has a marina and boat launch where you can rent fishing boats, canoes and kayaks.
Imperial National Wildlife Refuge (F) is just upstream from Martinez Lake.
Water skiing is prohibited in wilderness areas, but there’s a public boat launch and day-use area at Meers Point, no camping allowed on refuge.
By land: Follow Highway 95 north (past “big guns”), left on Martinez Lake Road then west about 10 miles: Turn right on Red Cloud Mine Road for Refuge; ahead and left to Fisher’s Landing, ahead and right to Martinez Lake Resort.
Upstream areas with limited land access:
Above Martinez Lake, the river mostly runs through wildlife refuge lands and land access to the river is limited. Tent camping is allowed on the California side of Ferguson Lake (G), outside refuge boundaries, but you have to get there by boat.
Above Ferguson Lake, the refuge encompasses both banks until you reach Picacho State Recreation Area (H) ((760) 996-2963 or (760) 393-3059), which includes eight miles of California shoreline.
Once a lively gold-mining town, this is now a popular park with full and car-top boat launches, 54 primitive campsites (campers and trailers permitted), a group campground, and two boat-in group sites, with picnic tables, fire rings, drinking water, chemical toilets, solar showers and RV dump station. No drinking water at five smaller campgrounds upriver. Water skiing permitted on adjoining river.
By land: Take S24 north from Winterhaven, watch for signs - go straight where S24 bends right. Only first six miles of 24-mile road paved; rest usually passable for cars, trailers and motorhomes, but may wash out during storms.
North of Picacho, the river again runs through the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge and there is no public access by land. At river mile 86, you enter the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge (I), which surrounds Walters Camp (river mile88), a popular midway stop between Blythe to Martinez Lake.
By land: Take I-8 west 15 miles to Ogilby Road (S34, exit 134), north on Ogilby25 miles to Highway 78, then right 16.5 miles to Walters Camp Road.