Kofa National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1939 and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge encompasses 665,400 acres of pristine desert that is home to the desert bighorn sheep and the California palm, the only native palm in Arizona.
In the early part of this century, a number of mines were established in the mountainous areas of the refuge. One of the most notable was the King of Arizona mine. It gave the Kofa Mountains their name-- "Kofa" being contracted from King of Arizona.
Two mountain ranges dominate the landscape--the Kofa Mountains and the Castle Dome Mountains. Although these ranges are not especially high, they are extremely rugged and rise sharply from the surrounding desert plains, providing ideal bighorn sheep country.
Palm Canyon, in the west end of the Kofa Mountains, is well known for its native palms. These palm trees are probably remnants from when this area was wetter and cooler than it is now. Though numbering less than 100, this handful of trees is among the only native palms in Arizona.
Notable wildlife species found in the area include the white-winged dove, desert tortoise, and desert kit fox. Approximately 800 to 1,000 bighorn sheep now live in the refuge and, in recent years, this herd has provided animals for transplanting throughout Arizona and neighboring states.
Birds that are likely to be seen at Kofa include American kestrel, white-winged dove, northern flicker, Say's phoebe, cactus wren, phainopepla, and orange-crowned warbler.
The Kofa Mountain barberry (a rare plant found only in southwest Arizona) occurs on the refuge.
Hiking, sightseeing, photography, nature observation, and camping are permitted in all areas of the refuge except on patented mining claims and other private inholdings. A half-mile foot trail is available to see Palm Canyon.
Past mining activity has left numerous vertical shafts, drift tunnels, and open pits throughout the refuge. These are extremely dangerous due to possible caving or collapsing. No attempt should be made to enter or explore them at close range.
Address: Hwy 95 South to Refuge signs
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