Picacho State Park @ Colorado River
Picacho SRA, California
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.
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.
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.
Picacho SRA Park Info:
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.
Imperial Desert Hiking
- Indian Pass Wilderness
- Picacho Peak Wilderness
- Little Picacho Wilderness
- Carrizo Falls
- Quartz Peak
- Hyduke Mine
Desert River Campgrounds
@ Picacho Park
Most camps are on first-come, first-served basis
|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
|Carrizo Camp||river||2||pit||river||yes||river edge||Boat-in
|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.
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.
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).
California has 2 nearby desert parks –
- Salton Sea SRA: 760-767-5311 about 100 miles NW
- Anza Borrego Desert State Park, 100 miles W, off Interstate 8.
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.
Picacho State Recreation Area