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Did You Know? Arizona Has A West Coast
April 28, 2014
Arizona’s West Coast surprises with abundant water activities and wildlife refuges
There’s an area along Arizona’s western border that is defined by the Colorado River as it makes its way south creating Arizona’s West Coast. Dams built along the river to control water resources have created a multitude of lakes, coves and beaches. Here, the towns and cities along the river offer an abundance of outdoor activities in which water recreation plays a central theme. Besides water revelers, wildlife is abundant in refuges along the Colorado River.
Along Arizona’s West Coast there are four major cities and towns:
Bullhead City is located along the eastern side of the Colorado River at the southern end of Lake Mohave. It has hundreds of acres of city operated parks with picnic ramadas, boat docks and fishing outlets. Houseboating on Lake Mojave is a popular pastime. Other activities include water skiing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming and day floats down the Colorado River. Fishing is popular in the area thanks to a large amount of largemouth and striped bass. Bullhead City’s annual River Regatta draws thousands of river floaters each year.
Lake Havasu City
Lake Havasu City sits on the shores of Lake Havasu along the Colorado River and is called the “Personal Watercraft Capital of the World.” This moniker is a testament to the near perfect boating conditions of the lake which include a constant year round elevation and temperature between 75 to 85°F (24-29°C). Lake Havasu, formed by Parker Dam (the deepest dam in the world), is 45-miles-long and is bordered by Lake Havasu State Park.
People come to Lake Havasu City to enjoy the endless water fun provided by the lake and river. Popular water recreation includes not only boating but also swimming, water skiing, flyboarding, paddleboarding and jet skiing. Or, sit back and enjoy a relaxing ride in a paddlewheel boat down the river. If you don’t have your own watercraft, there are plenty of rental options in the area. The London Bridge (yes, the London Bridge) was moved to Lake Havasu City in 1971 from London piece by piece and reassembled. Across the bridge is the aptly dubbed “English Village” with architecture and buildings that are meant to mimic an old English town. Here there are shops and restaurants as well as boat tours available along the waterfront promenade.
A popular event in Lake Havasu City is the Annual Boat Parade of Lights in early December that has become a Christmas holiday tradition. More than 50 boats decorated in holiday cheer cruise the Bridgewater Channel. For those looking for a little more speed, every October the city hosts the International Jet Sports Boating Association’s world championship, the most prestigious event in single personal watercraft.
Located on the eastern bank of the Colorado River and forty miles south of Lake Havasu City is the town of Parker. Parker enjoys 16 miles of the Colorado River, known as the “Parker Strip”. Along the strip is an abundance of water fun such as water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and fishing, to name a few. The town is lined with parks, RV resorts and restaurants so there are plenty of entertainment options. Some restaurants even have “floating” rooms that extend out onto the river. And for those who want to get into the water, each June Parker hosts its annual Parker Tube Float, an eight mile river float fundraising event that draws a large crowd.
Just outside of Parker is the Ahakhav Tribal Preserve. The preserve consists of 1,253 acres of wilderness, a 3.5 acre park and 250 acres of aquatic habitat. The area has a variety of wildlife and activities such as fishing and canoeing.
There are three state parks in the Lake Havasu / Parker area that offer camping and picnicking facilities besides an array of water fun:
Cattail Cove State Park – located eight miles north of Parker and 19 miles from Lake Havasu City along the shores of Lake Havasu with recreation that includes boating, swimming, camping (with 61 campsites) and 28 houseboat ports.
Lake Havasu State Park – near Lake Havasu City the park offers scenic shoreline with beaches, nature trails, boat ramps and campsites.
Buckskin Mountain State Park is located along the Parker Strip and is picturesque with mountain scenery, water activities and wildlife as varied as the recreational opportunities on the river.
Located on the Colorado River in the southwestern part of the state the city of Yuma, known as the “Sunniest City in the USA,” offers its own abundance of water activities. Popular water recreation includes speed boating, water skiing and tubing. Sternwheeler cruises along the river are a fun way to enjoy the scenery and let someone else do the driving. Other options include river tubing, kayaking, boat rentals and fishing. Thanks to its abundance of sunshine, there are plenty of outdoor activities to do in Yuma year round that aren’t limited to water. A popular event in Yuma is the annual Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival in November or the annual Lettuce Days in March.
In 2014 Yuma celebrates its centennial - the 100th anniversary of its incorporation under Arizona state law.
Not only water revelers but also nature lovers will enjoy Arizona’s West Coast. Three of Arizona’s nine national wildlife refuges reside here. National wildlife refuges are land and water areas set aside to conserve fish, wildlife and plants. They offer clean air, clean water, abundant wildlife and world-class recreation.
Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge – Located 23 miles south of Lake Havasu City near Parker this refuge has one of the few remaining cottonwood-willow forests along the lower Colorado River. Here the ecosystem of desert and marsh attracts a diverse array of birds, mammals and reptiles. This refuge is ideal for fishing and wildlife watching. You also have the option to canoe or kayak along the Colorado River.
Imperial National Wildlife Refuge - The Colorado River and associated backwater lakes and wetlands of Imperial National Wildlife Refuge are a green oasis, contrasting with the surrounding desert mountains. Consisting of over 26,000 acres, Imperial National Wildlife Refuge protects wildlife habitat along 30 miles of the lower Colorado River in Arizona. There are 275 species of birds that have been identified in the area such as the great egrets, Gambel’s quail, southwestern willow flycatchers and cinnamon teals. Fishing and wildlife observation are also popular activities here.
Cibola National Wildlife Refuge is a refuge in the floodplain of the lower Colorado River between Arizona and California and surrounded by a fringe of desert ridges and washes. More than 288 species of birds have been found here. Activities include fishing, wildlife observation, or you can auto tour with the chance to see waterfowl, mule deer or other wildlife.
Whether you enjoy water skiing on the Colorado River or canoeing in a refuge, Arizona’s West Coast has a lot to offer.
For More Information
For more information on this topic and others see the official Arizona travel and vacation guide from the Arizona Office of Tourism at www.arizonaguide.com. Find in-depth AZ visitor information and videos about visiting the state of Arizona, including comprehensive directories of Arizona hotels, dining and shopping, as well as things to do and places to visit throughout the Grand Canyon State.
Website Resources (in alphabetical order):
Arizona State Parks - http://azstateparks
Bullhead City – www.bullheadchamber.com
Lake Havasu Convention and Visitors Bureau - http://www.golakehavasu.com
National Wildlife Refuges - http://www.fws.gov/refuges/
Town of Parker - http://www.townofparkerarizona.com/
Yuma - http://www.visityuma.com/
Yuma Centennial – http://www.yuma100.com