Indian Pass Road to Picacho State Recreation Area

Yuma, AZ

Yesterday we decided to take a Jeep ride along the Colorado River on the California side.  Joe and Gay described the route in their blog (Good Times Rollin’) and it looked enticing so off we went.  After heading west on I-8 into California for about twenty-four miles, we took the Ogilby Road exit, then drove north for thirteen miles to Indian Pass Road.

For the first eight miles Indian Pass Road is a flat, fairly smooth dirt road through the desert.

After eight miles we came to Indian Pass, where the road begins to get a bit rough as it drops steeply down into a wash.  But the rough road is worth the drive, as the scenery now begins to get very impressive.

We don’t have any photos to show how steep and rough the road was going down the pass.  It seems that the photographer gets a bit nervous in areas like this as she stares straight ahead and begins to breath very loudly.  This makes photography impossible.

At the bottom of the pass the road follows a flat, sandy wash.  With the trauma ended, the photographer was able to return to action.

A mud puddle! Unusual in the desert but it has rained a bit the last few days.

As we drove over a rise we were rewarded for our efforts with beautiful views of the Colorado River and surrounding mountains.

As we rounded a bend we caught just a glimpse of a feral burro watching us from above.

Miners exploring the area in the late 1800s used burros to transport equipment.  Sometimes a burro would escape, or would wander away if the miner died.  The burros have adapted to the desert environment and, judging from all the droppings on the road, they are well-fed!

Watch your step!

We made a stop at Paddlewheeler Camp, a small boat-in campsite where you can pull off the river with a small boat and camp or picnic along the river.

Looking down at the river and the Paddlewheeler boat landing

At the top of a hill is an old bollard (mooring post) from a cable ferry that ran here in the 1940s and 1950s.  The cable ran across to a small island on the Arizona side of the river.  The ferry connected ranches and mines on both sides of the river during that era.

Ferry bollard

We continued south along the park road, which became a bit rough in spots.

The colors on the rocks along the road were often quite striking.  There was also extensive evidence of a fire in the area in the recent past.

We left the park and continued down a winding dirt road for over twenty miles before returning to civilization (Winterhaven, CA).

This is a long drive on some challenging roads, but the views of the river and surrounding mountains are worth the drive.  But if you drive this route, only go if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle (or good insurance).

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25 Responses to Indian Pass Road to Picacho State Recreation Area

  1. Since we done have four-wheel drive I am just as happy to see your great pictures especially the 7th picture. Wow! how scenic it is there. If the photographer gets nervous it simply means the driver is driving fast 🙂

    • placestheygo says:

      No, Mona Liza, the driver wasn’t going too fast. We were going down a very steep, windy hill where the road had pretty much washed out so finding a place for the wheels was tricky. I don’t do well when we are almost on our side:)

  2. libertatemamo says:

    I’m thinking this road won’t be for us in our little CRV, so I’m happy I can enjoy your photos instead. Looks like a beautiful drive.
    Nina

  3. pmbweaver says:

    Looks like a super drive. The color of the rocks is gorgeous. I love seeing the Colordo River. I looks so clear. A ton of the time it looks muddy.

    You guys have great eyes. That burro blend in with the hillside.

    Safe travels to Why. Rain, rain stay away!

  4. Gay says:

    Sure brings back lots of nice memories of the day we had doing this trail. So glad you now have memories of it too. Beautiful photographs of the rocks and all their glorious colors.

  5. Wayne Scott says:

    Thanks for the tour of the back country. Looks like a great spot to explore.

  6. Suzanne says:

    That little boat landing looks like a nice place to tent camp with a kayak! Did you drive to that landing, or was it a walk to get there?

  7. Another great drive on a dirt road! I’m with you on looking straight ahead when driving on scarey, narrow, winding roads! Really enjoyed the photos.

  8. Lindsay says:

    Great photos … and drive looked amazing. Love living our life through your blog when we’re stuck at home in the UK working 🙂

  9. pam says:

    Here’s a tip for you, when we went 4 wheeling and the going got rough I got out and walked. Much more relaxing, and he could enjoy the adventure without my anxiety.

  10. What a beautiful drive! Thanks for taking me to a place I’d probably never see!

  11. Nope, I won’t be letting Jim drive the Subaru down that steep hill! Very nice views and photos.

  12. Jodee Gravel says:

    We will definitely be taking that route when we get in the area! The best way for me to avoid anxiety in those places is to be behind the wheel (cue John’s heavy breathing at the thought). Love seeing the river without all the houses and docks along the shore. Those are beautiful pics!! Camping near Havasu as a young girl I woke up to a burro face over my cot – they can be very bold 🙂

  13. Sue says:

    Thanks for letting us ride along on such a beautiful trip. the scenery is stunning….its on my list now.
    Sue

  14. Dave says:

    John….John…you need to wear tighter shorts next time, you left quite a mess behind as you walked. How indelicate of you Pam to photograph him…… Dave

  15. Ingrid says:

    Beautiful country and back road exploration. I’m fine with heights but not when the vehicle tips to one side. Years ago during one of our winter trips in the Colorado Rockies, our F150 started sliding and we all jumped out on one side before it stopped moving. We still needed a tow or I’m sure she might have gone over. Have no intention of every experiencing a repeat!

  16. Laurel says:

    Those shots of the Colorado with the mountains and clouds look like paintings! What a gorgeous and interesting drive — but probably not one we can do with our Tundra, even though we have 4-wheel drive. Or could we??

  17. Sherry says:

    The color in your pictures is spectacular. What eye candy. We once had two burros who had previously lived in Death Valley. They liked to do community dumping. Maybe that’s what you ran into. 🙂

  18. Nancy says:

    …I don’t do well with tipping on the side as well….
    You got to see some very beautiful country because of those 4 wheeling ways.
    I love getting to the back country. People can’t believe what we come across and see.
    The photos of the lake were my favorite!

  19. LuAnn says:

    What a beautiful drive! Those sky shots and the lighting on the mountains was fabulous! 🙂

  20. debbiemc14 says:

    Beautiful pictures. I especially love the colors in the last one.

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