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The Yuma Zone
Lower Colorado River

Imperial Dam to Palo Verde Dam

Arizona's Lower Colorado River scenic beauty and recreational opportunities are immense. On the previous page we explored the waters between the Morales Dam and the Imperial Dam. We continue our virtual journey north from the Imperial Dam.

Imperial Dam Area

The Imperial Dam at mile 49 is the starting point on our continuing voyage upstream. Recreational water enthusiast will find 95 Miles of navigable river between the Imperial Dam and the Palo Verde Dam above Blythe California. On the East side of Imperial Dam is Hidden Shores, a private BLM concession. Amenities include RV hookups, boat launch, showers, store, handicapped accessible restrooms, and fuel sales. On the West end of the Dam is found Phil Swing Park.

Squaw Lake Area

     Continuing upstream 1 mile above the Imperial Dam to mile 50, you will find Squaw Lake. The Squaw Lake Campgound and Day Use Area offer RV and tent camping sites, boat launchs, & potable water. Beware that Squaw lake is a no wake zone with a 5 MPH speed limit.

Senator Wash Area

Towering above Squaw Lake on the west is the Senator Wash Dam & Reservoir. An off-stream regulating reservoir for the All American Canal, upto 13,800 acre-feet of water can be stored. The facilities at the Senator Wash Boat Ramp & Day Use Area are used by thousands of visitors each year.

Arizona Channel

Anglers, sun bathers, and other river recreationalists will find miles of backwaters and small lakes along the shores of the river above Imperial Dam. These backwaters are a no wake zone and a favorite of fisherman that ply the 6 miles of river between the Dam and Fishers Landing. The Arizona Channel is one of the favorite backwaters. The lower entrance to the channel is located at mile 51. The upper entrance is at mile 55.

Fisher's Landing Area

Fisher's Landing at mile 56 is located near the site of the town of Castle Dome Landing. Once the first stop of the steamships headed north on the Colorado River from Yuma, the town site of Castle Dome Landing was flooded upon the completion of the Imperial Dam. Yuma River Tours offers Jetboat tours & Sternwheeler Cruises departing from Fisher's Landing. You will find a bar, restaurant, fuel dock, RV spaces, campground, and convenience store at Fishers Landing Resort.

Martinez Lake Area

   The entrance to Martinez Lake is located a scant third of a mile above Fisher's Landing. Martinez Lake was formed by the 1935 completion of the Imperial Dam. The Martinez Lake Resort located near the entrance from the Colorado River provides a cantina, restaurant, lodging, bait shop and other services. Fishing for Bass is a favorite pastime of the many residents that are found on the edges of Martinez Lake. Vacation House Rentals and House Sales available at Martinez Lake!

Imperial NWR Area

     The Imperial National Wildlife Refuge has of 25,125 acres of desert uplands and wetlands, located just upstream of the Martinez Lake entrance. The refuge abounds with opportunities for fishing, hiking, bird watching, photography and many other recreational activities. Call (928) 783-3371 for more information.

Ferguson Lake

Paddle Boat by Yuma River Tours!

     Ferguson Lake entrance is located upstream from Martinez Lake at mile 57.5. This lake offers fun in the sun opportunities for water recreation. The Colorado King paddle boat is often seen plying the waters of this lake. This remote lake is a haven for tent campers.

Picacho State Recreation Area

Picacho State Park

     Eight miles of the lower Colorado River make up the border of Picacho State Recreation Area. 100 years ago Picacho was a gold mining town with over 100 resident souls. This popular park offers a variety of flora and fuana, including beavertail cactus, wild burros, bighorn sheep and thousands of migratory waterfowl. The main campground, has 54 campsites, a group campground, two boat-in group sites, and a boat launch ramp. The sites have picnic tables and fire rings with drinking water. You will also find chemical toilets located nearby, as well as a solar shower. Further up the river there are five smaller campgrounds, there is no drinking water at these locations.

Norton's Landing Area

Norton's Landing

     Norton's Landing is only accessed via boat and was originally a stopover for steam driven paddle boats that serviced the Red Cloud Mine. Privately owned, Norton's Landing offers Yuma River Tours customers picnic and overnight camping areas, restroom facilities, gift shop, as well as a large collection of artifacts from earlier days on "The River". Canoeing & kayaking enthusiast often schedule a stopover at this historic site. Call Yuma River Tours at (928) 743-4400 for more information.

Cibola NWR Area

     Cibola National Wildlife Refuge is located North of the Imperial NWR on the Lower Colorado River beginning at Mile 86. Bird watching and wildlife photography opportunities abound at this home of over 1000 Sandhill cranes. With over 12 miles of backwaters from former river channels, opportunities to see bald eagles and other rare birds are common.

Walters Camp Area

     Walters Camp is found on the California side of the river at Mile 88. Located up the old river channel that is now a backwater, the small community of Walters Camp is surrounded by the Cibola NWR. For those traveling between Blythe and Martinez lake, Walter's Camp offers a midpoint refueling point for boats and boaters. Walters Camp RV Park and Campground is a family focused, waterfront full service campground featuring Hook-Up RV sites available monthly, weekly or nightly, waterfront camping, boat launch, fuel dock, bar, store with beer/ice/snacks/bait. Year round fun on and off the river! The marina in the lagoon here is often used as the starting point for canoe and kayaking trips down river to Martinez Lake and the Imperial Dam.

Blythe Area

     The County Of Riverside has placed four county parks along the Colorado River in the Palo Verde Valley. Most offer launch ramps, drinking water, restrooms, and BBQs.

     Blythe is located on the California-Arizona border where Interstate 10 crosses the Colorado River. Incorporated in 1916 the City of Blythe would not exist on the edges of the Mohave and Sonoran Deserts without the waters of the Lower Colorado River.

     The Palo Verde Irrigation District's Diversion Dam feeds Colorado River water to valley's canal system for use in agriculture and the City of Blythe. The water reenters the river at the southern limits of the Palo Verde Valley.

© William E. Knowlton
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