Havasu National Wildlife Refuge

Power down at these protected wetlands along the Colorado River.

North and south of I-40 along the Arizona-California border, visitors explore pristine wetlands surrounded by mountains along the Colorado River. In this transition zone between the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, a ribbon of water creates a riparian habitat of marshes and ponds that reaches from Lake Havasu City north to Needles, California. Some 300 miles of shoreline are protected in the refuge to sustain the bounty of wildlife that depends on the river. Expect laid-back recreation that is less adrenaline-fueled than the water sports offered on other stretches of Arizona’s West Coast.

Gentle Recreation

From the Parker Strip north to Lake Havasu City, the mighty Colorado River is almost always in view. Where Highway 95 wends away from the river, a system of protected wetlands begins. Head west to find a pristine area that offers many ways to unplug and connect with the natural surroundings. The Colorado River forms Arizona’s West Coast, one of the nation’s busiest migratory bird routes. Hundreds of species make their annual journey along the waterway and rely on the diverse habitat for rest and food during their annual journeys along the Pacific Flyway.

Toprock Gorge

One of the most visited areas of the refuge features a 20-mile stretch of the Colorado River squeezed between steep, rocky cliffs on either side of the canyon. Toprock Gorge is accessible only by boat and offers remote fishing spots and marshland areas popular with waterfowl hunters. Anglers fish the gorge for catfish, striped bass and largemouth bass. Non-hunters find many places to put in kayaks and canoes to explore the undisturbed area shaded by dense stands of cottonwood, willow and mesquite trees. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, mountain lions, coyotes, foxes and other native critters who call this natural wonderland home.

Historic Route 66

Signs alert drivers to “Watch for Wild Burros” as they tour the refuge north of I-40. Many modern cities have grown up along historic Route 66, while others have held onto their original character. In the remote outpost of Oatman, a historic section of Route 66 is flanked by an Old West mining town. A far cry from the neon signs and historic motor lodges found along Route 66 in nearby Kingman and Flagstaff, Oatman is known for its wooden sidewalks, cowboy reenactments and resident wild donkeys.

For More Information

Havasu National Wildlife Refuge
317 Mesquite Ave
Needles, CA 92363
(760) 326-3853

Visit Destination Website

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