Imperial National Wildlife Refuge – Yuma

Yuma, AZ

On Saturday we had planned to leave Yuma and head southeast to Why, AZ (no wisecracks about the town’s name – don’t ask why).  But a check of the weather report revealed a steady rain in central Arizona predicted to last all day.  Since we don’t travel in the rain, we re-uped here at Westwind RV for another night.  The weather in Yuma was pretty nice so we headed north on Rte. 95 for a visit to Imperial National Wildlife Refuge.

After a stop at the visitor center, we headed out to hike the Painted Desert Trail.  This is another great idea we picked up from Gay and Joe’s blog.  The Painted Desert Trail is a 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.

The trail starts along a flat wash through a stand of Ironwood Trees.

A gap in the rocks led us through the wash into the colorful canyon.  There are many side washes that lead to some exploring on your own if you wish.  We followed a burro trail which took us all around and up on top of the hills.  The clouds didn’t allow for the best photos of the palette of colors in the rocks.

Two rocky hoodoos in the desert

Going up for a better view

Natural beauty!

After completing the hike we drove a bit further into the refuge to check out a viewpoint overlooking the Colorado River.

The rainy weather moved out of Arizona on Sunday and the sky was clear.  So we left Yuma that morning and drove about 150 miles southwest to the tiny settlement of Why.  Located about ten miles south of the small town of Ajo, Why is at the point where Rte. 86 splits off from Rte. 85, forming a “Y.”  Apparently the state of Arizona requires at least three letter in the name of a town so the locals got creative, hence the name of the town.

We are comfortably in place at Hickiwan RV Park for the next few days.  We are here to spend some time exploring nearby Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.  It is full of many types of cacti so the nimble hiker is in her glory!

Saguaros are all around us at the campground!

The view out our front window



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33 Responses to Imperial National Wildlife Refuge – Yuma

  1. Your desert sunset view is tough to beat! Pam is indeed in her glory self with a smile from ear to ear. This a very scenic area, the natural beauty and one of the hoodos are beautiful additions to the surrounding.
    Kudos to John for keeping the MH and Jeep sparkling all the time 🙂

  2. libertatemamo says:

    That trail is now on my list!!

  3. Mary Lou Yancey says:

    Nice view! I love a great sunset.

  4. Jim and Barb says:

    We have only been out east a couple of weeks and we already miss the openness and hikes of the west. Your posts are certainly not helping and we cannot wait to get back there!

    • placestheygo says:

      I know exactly how you feel, Jim and Barb! When we were back east last winter, it was so hard to read blogs that showed the beautiful west. I could hardly wait to get back out here. The wide open views was the hardest thing to leave:)

  5. Sue says:

    Sounds like my kind of trail! I love the natural beauty……


  6. Janna says:

    Can’t beat the AZ sunshine!

  7. Gay says:

    It’s hard to beat an Arizona sunset…nice view.
    Looking forward to reading all about your hikes at Organ Pipe Cactus NM. Happy trails….

  8. Sherry says:

    it’s wonderful seeing places on our list through your eyes. Both Imperial and Oregon Pipe are high up there. Great trail you chose. I love the picture shooting up the cactus. Nothing like the desert for gorgeous sunsets and right out your front window to beat. You are livin’ the life for sure.

  9. pmbweaver says:

    Our friend volunteers at Imperial and never talks about the trails. She does the birding programs. I don’t think she gets out on the trails. This one is beautiful. The colors are awesome.

    John is so clever with his natural beauty shot…true or so true.

    Never have seen the Colorado River looks so clean and pretty. Wonderful photo.

    • placestheygo says:

      I was surprised as we drove out to the Painted Desert Trail how many markers there were along the road that pointed to trails. I wish we had more time to hike back into all those washes. We’ll have something for another visit.

      The Colorado River was so beautiful on both our drives.

  10. LuAnn says:

    I had never heard of Imperial NWR, but I haven’t spent much time around Yuma. Seems that is going to have to change. I do miss the AZ desert, those stately saguaro, and the stunning sunsets. Looking forward to more saguaro photos. 🙂

  11. jcgc50 says:

    Good time to go to Organ Pipe since the areas that were closed while we were there have just been reopened last fall. You will love it!

    • placestheygo says:

      I was really pleased to see that the whole park is now open. Yesterday we did the main loop and hiked the Este Canyon trail. We plan to return another day and do a trail in the reopened area. It’s a saguaro dream!!

  12. Laurel says:

    What a beautiful hike and refuge (and that is most definitely a natural beauty amidst the natural beauty)! It’s on our list of places to visit, so thanks for the lovely preview. Looks like you’re in a great RV site near Organ Pipe Cactus NM. We’re still deciding if we want to stay in Organ Pipe or in a nearby RV park. How far is it to the monument from where you’re staying?

    • placestheygo says:

      The monument is about 20 miles from us. It is a beautiful drive with the thick forest of saguaro. We just published our first blog on it! We are planning to go back tomorrow to see the other section of the park that has been closed for so long due to illegals traveling through. We’ll have more information then. I’ll bring the info we have to Tucson and I’ll share it with you and Eric. Maybe that will help you:)

      • Laurel says:

        Oh yay!! Your info will definitely help us. I’m really excited about visiting Organ Pipe NM after reading your blog tonight. Looking forward to seeing you soon! 🙂

  13. Sheila says:

    Gorgeous photos and I love the captions! Enjoy Organ Pipe; looking forward to seeing future posts of this area.

  14. Jodee Gravel says:

    I love the many colors of the desert. The saquaro in the sky is beautiful! I’m so looking forward to the flexibility of extending stays and leaving early depending on the weather!!

    • placestheygo says:

      We have totally been traveling by the seat of our pants since we headed back west. This trip to Why, Ajo, and Organ Pipe Cactus NM wasn’t even in the picture til friends were here over Christmas. After seeing their posts, we (I) decided we had to stop there! Of course this type of traveling isn’t for everyone, but it works well for us:)

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