Kofa National Wildlife Refuge
And so it begins. Buttoning up the Defiant TT took awhile, so by the time I finally hit the road after a replenishing trip to a supermarket in Yuma, it was 4 o’clock. I had anticipated just such a problem, and drove about an hour to turn in to Palm Canyon Road at the Kofa National Wildlife Preserve. The name Kofa was derived from King of Arizona Mine, one of the principal mines in the area. There are reputed to be bighorn sheep and a unique breed of pronghorn here, as well as one of the few groves of native palm trees. Many level campsites can be found on the right side of Palm Canyon Road, suitable for all types of rigs. The Queen Canyon side-trail is very different in character from the broad dirt road in, and it took another hour to get to my current campsite along it – almost 5 miles.
The Queen Canyon trail in from Palm Canyon Road is a rough one not suitable for cars. You can see the turnoff for it in Google Maps at GPS 33.371690, -114.163603. The Reserve specifies high-clearance 4WD, but as long as you have some ground clearance, you’ll be okay with a 2WD pickup or van (only) as long as conditions are dry. No motorhomes, no low campervans, no trailers apart from specialty off-road trailers. Overhang is not something you want here. The caveat I would offer is that your tires must not be on their last legs and should offer generous shoulder protection, because the many rocks on the trail will do their best to get at the sidewalls. Many of the ones emerging from the ground are sharp-edged, so moderation in speed and throttle are advisable. Side tilt here and there rules out humungus, tall hardside truck campers as well. and duallies would not do much on this trail anyway.
A wind advisory was out today for this entire area, but it tapered off to a notable breeze once the sun set. Overall, it’s a gorgeous site. I was going to just overnight here and press on tomorrow morning, but there’s no strategic gain in doing that other than minimizing heat exposure at this low elevation, so we’ll see. I read through the online info for this refuge, and camping here appears to be okay for 14 days. A sign coming in cautioned “authorized vehicles only” at the border of the refuge, but all the online info I saw seems positive, as did the signs on the way in pointing out the way to this canyon. Hopefully, I won’t have it resolved for me in an unhelpful way.
It feels strange to be on tour once again after wintering in the Defiant TT and putting up with the slow recovery after “Summering” and “Falling” in Indy for so long. Three quarters of a year, all told. Between that and the meds to slow me down, there’s a kind of lethargic inertia that only a place like this can begin to undo. I find the solitude restorative, and the lack of sound from highways, trains, people and pets doubly so. There’s just the ebb and flow of the wind, and in the morning, the rather spectacular view out my windows that I have to look forward to when I wake up.