Imperial National Wildlife Refuge protects wildlife habitat along 30 miles of the lower Colorado River in Arizona and California, including the last unchannelized section before the river enters Mexico.
The river and its associated backwater lakes and wetlands covering 15,000 acreas are a green oasis, contrasting with the surrounding desert mountains. The refuge is an excellent site for such activities as hiking, sightseeing, and photography.
Enjoy the exhibits, native plant garden, and watch a wildlife video at the Visitor's Center, or see more on these scenic drives, trails, and lookouts.
Red Cloud Mine Road
Follow this scenic drive through the Sonoran desert landscape to access the lookout points and the Painted Desert Trail. If you intend to drive further than the Painted Desert Trailhead, a 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. Check with the Visitor Center for road conditions.
Mesquite, Ironwood, and Smoke Tree Points offer beautiful views of the Colorado River valley. Often, both desert and wetland wildlife may be seen. All of the lookout points can be reached by vehicle.
Painted Desert Trail
Walk this 1.3-mile self-guided trail for an opportunity to see desert plants and wildlife. The trail takes you through a rainbow of colors left by 30,000 year-old volcanic activity and features a panoramic view of the Colorado River valley.
Looking for a quiet place to canoe or fish? Meers Point has shaded tables, toilets, and a boat launch. The refuge surrounds one of the few remaining "wild" places on the Colorado River. This stretch is valued by boaters for its remote scenery.
Hours: Visitor Center is open 7:30 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. From November 15 to March 31, open Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
From Yuma, go north on Highway 95 for 25 miles. Turn west on Martinez Lake Road for 13 miles and follow signs to visitor center.
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