Tag Archives: colorado river

Picacho Park California

Picacho Campground
Picacho State Park @ Colorado River
Picacho SRA, California

tree camps

Winter camping is great at Picacho. Hunters, fisherman, snowbirds & RVers alike, all know this best kept secret. Picacho Peak on the Colorado River is prime spot for outdoor recreation & camping. Canoe, kayak, fish, hunt, mountain bike, hike, and mining history. All this desert fun, less than a 3 hour drive from San Diego.

The main attraction here is the Colorado River, fishing, hunting, plus easy freeway access & the off roading options are an added bonus.

colorado river
Colorado River, California

Ancient volcanic peaks surround this wetlands area of the Colorado River. Picacho makes a good stopping point on a river trip between Walter’s Camp and Martinez Lake.

A century ago Picacho was a mining town with 100 citizens. Now it is a State Park, offering diverse scenery, including cactus, burros, bighorn sheep and thousands of waterfowl. The impressive lower Colorado River is the recreation area on the eastern border of California.

canoe

Take the 20+ mile road north from Winterhaven, off Interstate 8 (W of Yuma, AZ). The side road to Picacho is paved only a few miles, then becomes graded dirt. The last 18 miles is over a desert road that is easily passable for passenger cars & motorhomes.

In the summer months thunderstorms can cause flash flooding in the washes, making sections of the road impassable. Check weather forecast before traveling into this flash-flood region of the California desert.

RV

Picacho SRA Park Info:
760-393-3052

 

Nearby cities:

hiking picacho

EASY HIKES @ CAMP:
Picacho California, rich in desert history, was once a small mining town. Historic signs, trails & buildings surround the Picacho Campground.

Hike straight from the main campground to many areas along the scenic rivers edge. Stroll through the old graveyard & read about the areas history. Walk the washes in early spring and look for wildflowers.

Picacho Park River Camping

Imperial Desert Hiking

PDF Map download EAST IMPERIAL

  • Indian Pass Wilderness
  • Picacho Peak Wilderness
  • Little Picacho Wilderness
  • Carrizo Falls
  • Quartz Peak
  • Hyduke Mine

BLM Maps for the Desert Regions

campground

desert RV campers

Desert River Campgrounds
Picacho Park

camp
Most camps are on first-come, first-served basis

campground elev spots toilet water fee notes comments
Taylor Lake Camp river 4 pit river yes river edge Boaters or vehicles ok
Outpost Camp river 3 pit river yes river edge Boaters or vehicles ok
4-S Beach Camp river 4 pit river yes river edge Boaters or vehicles ok
Paddle Wheeler river 2 pit river yes river edge Boat-in
(no vehicles)
Carrizo Camp river 2 pit river yes river edge Boat-in
(no vehicles)
Picacho Camp
main campground
100′ 54 pit piped yes large sites plenty tent + RV spots

The main dirt road up to Picacho Campground is fine – for RVers that don’t mind the long haul on a wash board road.

camptruck

Primitive River Camping

Senator Wash – south end of park, open dispersed camping between Squaw Lake & Senators Wash. No other back road dispersed camping inside State Park boundaries.

boatramp

BOAT IN CAMPING
Small campgrounds for boat in camping listed above on chart.

Colorado River Back Roads

The majority of this desert scenic area is dirt back roads, so get prepared & take precautions: water, warm clothes, matches, maps.  Best to get your SUV out & ready to explore on milder terrain, by driving out close to camp. Walking back to camp (note mileage) could be an option, if you get stuck.

Many roads could require 4-wheel drive, but there are still plenty suitable for 2WD. Tell a camping neighbor where you are headed and what time you should be back, just in case you get stranded or lost.

Heading all the way to Anza Borrego Desert, Salton Sea, or Mecca’s Box Canyon – just a day trip (?)  is unreasonable and should not be attempted. Rest and relax. Picacho Park has more than enough to keep you entertained and occupied.

OHV PARK – IMPERIAL SAND DUNES RECREATION AREA is due west of Picacho SRA, about 20 miles away (as the crow flies).

4x4

California has 2 nearby desert parks –

COLORADO RIVER PARKS:

Bordering the Colorado River on the opposite side is the state of Arizona, with wetlands known as Imperial National Wildlife Refuge.

About 200 miles east of YUMA is another park called Picacho Peak State Park (AZ): 520-586-2283 and that place closes for summer months. NOTE: This park is often confused online with Picacho State Recreation Area, inside California. There is a Picacho Peak Wilderness on the California side, within the State Park boundary.  


California

Picacho State Recreation Area 

https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=641

Oatman Arizona

Oatman Ghost Town, AZ

established 1902

hotelsign_i If you are ever in Laughlin, Nevada and find yourself in a blank stare, mesmorized at a slot machine in front of your face, wondering ‘why the hell am I here?’ – RUN for the doors & take in the warm desert sun & scenery. There is plenty to do around here for sightseeing & Route 66. Oatman, Arizona is just one favorite option.

A lively, rustic town in the Arizona desert, with a silly commercial twist. Tourist trap to some, but entertaining to others. A meeting spot for travelers, an ideal lunch stop, and conveniently located on paved roads near major highways and close to Interstate 40.

OATMAN town began as a small mining camp and grew into a large town. Many residents that live here today are shop keepers or retirees. Located near the Colorado River, with Laughlin and local indian casinos nearby.

wagon_i

burro
Not-so-wild Burros walk the streets, but are not as tame as you may think. Local vendors sell carrots for feed. Always watch your fingers when feeding animals!

The amount of visitors or tourists can vary depending on time of day, there can be a motorcycle club rolling through, or a meeting of hot rods. Both classic cars and bikes are popular in this desert region. Tour buses and guides also bring their guest here as a good stopping point along their desert whirlwind travels. Holiday weekends & festival weekends can get crowded as well. Centrally located, Oatman sees lots of traffic, so don’t expect a desolate ghost town atmosphere. RV

The town streets have very limited parking & bringing that huge RV up the hill via the narrow road is not recommended. It may be possible to take a shuttle bus from a nearby hotel.

storefront

Souvenir shops, diner, saloon, western town walkways. OATMAN ghost town is super easy to get to. Only 12 miles off the main drag (AZ 95) Mojave Hwy. South of Bullhead City, AZ. Situated up on the Black Mesa above Mojave Valley, Oatman is a modern, developed, touristy ghost town (as ghost town standards go).

sign_iBUT, NO GASOLINE IN OATMAN

elevation: 2710′
population: 128

 Desert mountains, canyons.

SouthEast of Laughlin, NV
Mojave Valley – in Arizona
@ Nevada / California borders
Off Interstate 40, Route 66

diner

When traveling in the deserts, consider more stretch breaks (mini hikes). Short hikes and viewpoints offer time for relaxing, snacking and exercise.

town oatman
Parking is tight on main street, so you might need to walk in from the outskirts of town.


Remember that finding a great camp site before dark is of utmost importance, if you are not hoteling it; but bottoming out your rig, or getting stuck is another kinda adventure. No fun. Have topographic maps of the region you plan to explore, on foot, or off-road.

trainride

area activities:

  • Back Roads
  • Camping
  • Casinos
  • Colorado River
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Museums
  • Jet Ski Rentals
  • Sightseeing
  • Shopping

lodging laughlin vacations

plaque

camptruck

Primitive camping on dirt backroads is plentiful and FREE. SUV back road exploring just north of town. Silver Canyon Wash, a graded, dirt road continues back down to Bulhead City. A decent little loop drive (for those needing to get dusty to have fun). Since we’ve been writing about this road, a huge residential neighborhood has sprouted back here, so watch for private property signs. Don’t camp within eye-sight of a home, or you could have the local Sheriff out to move you (at 11pm)

Camper Trailers & RV campers should be very cautious about venturing too far down any dirt road. Wash outs can change the road annually, so it is best to get out & walk it first. The California Mojave is filled with bitchin back road camp sites, and yes, some are very accessible – even with a huge motorhome.

peak

ghost towns
find more mining camps