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.
We love Kofa and make it a stop on every trip out west now. We haul a trailer so we stick to the main road but that’s better than most places we’ve been. I can attest to the sheep having run into a group of 20 or so on the way up to the Palm Canyon hike. We only spend a few days at a time there but I’d like to lay over a bit longer and explore next time. Beware of Blevens road leading out to Crystal Hill, rough, rough, rough. Enjoy.
Great! There are apparently quite a few trails going through the whole thing, and I imagine there aren’t too many smooth ones. That makes for different options on different visits. That makes me wonder how many are actually rated Jeep trails, which the lumbering Behemoth can’t do. I dragged the cargo box once on the way back down on Queen Canyon trail, so I’m glad that my next stop after Wickenburg is the specialty shop that will install the rear air bags. Anyway, if the temperature is workable, Kofa seems like a very good spot to visit.
It’s good to see you have recovered and are able to get back on the road again. The quietness you speak of has to make it a perfect camp site.
It is in fact perfect boondocking, if you don’t mind four miles of washboard and four of rough trail. I apparently don’t mind, because I’d do it again! It’s elevated, so I could see all the way back to route 95 and as far beyond.
Sounds like a great place to heal.
It is. The clarity of the stars in the night sky has a maximum Wow Factor.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the stars like that.
I went to Crystal Hill (in Kofa) to look for quartz crystals. A nice place to camp & the hill was not bad to hike up.
A lot to see around there…
There is plenty. On the way out, I crossed another marked road and wondered where it went, which made me write a mental memo to head down it next time. Seems like Crystal Hill is pretty popular, so that’ll have to go on the list, too.
It is good to hear you are back on the road! So glad to know you are surrounded by views with unlimited quiet. You can almost feel the silence, by gazing at that picture for a bit. I am hoping to find some of that quiet myself soon. I’ve been staying in the city of Las Cruses, waiting for van repairs. Arrrrgh! The barrage of noise has been overwhelming. But I am hoping to get the repairs done today or tomorrow, then I will be heading cross-country looking for that view-filled quiet and solitude, all along the way! Enjoy! 🙂
Yep, those are called “lonely stretches of road”, and are best taken in a vehicle that is reliable! 🙂 May your trip be rewarding and uneventful, if you know what I mean.
Rest and restore
Thank you, Chris. That’s the plan. I’m getting pretty good at the “resting” part, if I do say so myself.
Glad to hear you are on the road and found a beautiful spot to relax for a short time. I hope Mercury and Bachy will not be offended by your comment about you appreciating the lack of sound from pets. Safe travels, we will keep watching your blog for updates on your return to the Midwest and hope you can make a return visit to Indy this summer and that will be devoid of any medical treatments. B. and C.
Thanks, John. I hope to invade Illinois about the start of June. I figure it’ll either be Indy or Michigan, depending on time and temperature. Tell the duo not to feel too bad – the only thing worse than the barking sounds that dogs make is the invoicing sounds that doctors make, so I’m steering clear of those out here, too!
Ah, the peace of silence. Glad you are getting to enjoy it.
Thank you, Linda. Me too!
Just joining in on your conversations. I’ve camped in the Quartsite-Kofa area many many times. Found crystals at Crystal Hill, driven the rough roads back behind the Kofas, and counted the palms in the canyon. We always avoided the area between April and November–too hot. Drove 4×4 Toyota, Dodge Ram and Jeep, but now down to a converted Nissan 2500 high- top van, not a great off- road vehicle but a cozy camper for a single person and two very intrepid attack dachshunds.
Welcome! Kofa is an interesting area, that’s for sure. Funny how as we “mature”, comfort starts working its way up the priority list. You may find an interview I did interesting. It was an NV2500 owner called Richard, and he had altered quite a bit of it to suit his own preferences. I imagine that you have, too.
I hope you’re able to control those attack dachshunds. They can be pretty intimidating unless one is wearing hi-top shoes! 🙂
Nice to hear from you! My comfort awakening occurred when I decided I was too old to get dressed while horizontal in a bed that put my nose at six inches from the camper shell roof. Been getting closer to vertical dressing ever since.
I’m not sure I can feel safe with a pair of dogs whose best defense of me is ankle- biting.
Moving on to your next blog….
Sandy, having to dress like that sounds like a great isometric exercise regimen, if you are into that kind of thing – which neither of us is.
Oh, I suspect that your dogs might be helpful for personal defense against a potential human threat in two ways: first, to as an alarm before they can be seen, and second, as a distraction once the bad guy sees them. Once he does, he may be so distracted by laughing that you may be able to conk him with a pipe. 🙂
Or maybe he’ll fall out the door with a dog on each ankle!
Or, if you have that length of pipe handy, both!