Monday, January 25, 2021

Travel Memories: Camp Life and Picacho Recreation Area

November 15

Despite another hot day is coming up we decide to drive to Yuma and do some shopping.

On the I-8 with a sand storm
Not the Sahara but the Imperial Dunes

On our way east we see a sandstorm driving off the Yuma sand dunes. The air is yellow and at first it looked like fog. We remember that our awning at the trailer is down and that windows are left open for ventilation. So quickly we decide to turn around and go back. The sandstorm follows us but subsides when we get closer to the campground. After taking in the awning and closing all windows we go off again. The sand dunes are huge and apparently a target destination for many from from the cities of San Diego and Los Angeles using their ATV's and sand buggies.

Yuma is on the Arizona-side and appears to be bigger than I expected. We ask for mail at the main post office but there is nothing yet. At Wal-Mart we find our groceries and go back home.
                       Our home place for the time being

November 16

Today we want to drive up to the Picacho State Recreation Area north of Yuma. We turn of Interstate 8 and go onto S24 which runs north then makes a sharp bend east. We leave the S24 at that point and go on straight ahead on a gravel road running for 18 miles towards the banks of the Colorado, crossing the American Canal, then leading up to a high plateau from where we enjoy a wide view over the valley below.

Irrigation Canal for vegetable production

Bea looking at Ocotillo Cactus
The Cholla Cactus also called "Teddy bear Cactus"

When the road accesses the mountains after several miles we approach a strange moon-like landscape where the volcanic activities from millions of years ago can be seen. We easily recognize the gas bubbles in the rock from where hot lava was spewn out into the area. Though vegetation is sparse huge cacti are growing besides the road. In spring this area must be a wondrous land of flowers and bloom.
                Rugged landscape along the Colorado River

After leaving the highest mountain area behind, the road goes into the bottom of a valley and follows an old riverbed. If weather conditions might imply heavy rains this may turn into a fast running stream. Some side paths are veering off here and there. Some will run into little gorges and canyons. The area also has a history from the California Gold Rush. But after the river was dammed up no water was coming down in this area and all activity ceased even though the mines were far from being depleted. In 1984 activity resumed and there is a huge area around a mountain being fenced off with barb wire. We anticipate that being the privately owned gold mine.

Finally the road gets into the Picacho State Recreation Area at The Colorado River. What a nice scenery we meet you might see in our pictures. The blue waters of the river standing in nice contrast with its green riverbanks and the red rocks and unto purple mountains in the distance. A deck has been built with shaded benches and barbeques. A campground invites for a longer stay, but be aware of that long rigs cannot be hauled down the gravel road and through the mountains. And you might bring your boat for there is a boat launch into the river. The solitude of this place is intriguing and we find it hard to leave and before we so do we follow a sign to Taylor Lake 1,5 miles river upwards. Immediately the gravel road becomes rough and very narrow. Washouts on one side force me to let the truck climp up the opposite side in order to avoid falling into holes. One place I have to get out of the truck scouting around the next corner, because of a steep grade and a following sharp bend. But we make it to Taylor Lake which really is just a partially overgrown side arm of the Colorado River. A little pickup camper has been placed on the top of a steep hill, overlooking the entire scenery.

But a descending sun forces us to start on our way home. When getting down to where the gravel road ends we turn onto the S24 and go to Imperial Dam, which is another LTVA. There we have beautiful lookouts over Squaw Lake. Palm Trees are growing everywhere, but the campground itself is on a windy and rocky plateau with no protection from bushes or trees.

Content with the experiences of the day we return to Hot Springs where we soon after dinner settle in for the night.

November 17

We spend the day in camp, interrupted by going to Holtville for a few phone calls.

November 18

Bea finds an old rim in the bushes somewhere and some old wood as well. So our first campfire starts.

Tomorrow we have to drive to El Centro for emptying the holding tanks. El Centro is about 18 miles from the Hot Springs.

This morning we take the trailer to El Centro. Of course at first we can't find the dumping station and are whirring through a residential area with it's challenges of sharp bends and parked vehicles everywhere. Finally we find the service station right besides the Interstate 8 exit. Stupid us! Gas prices are slowly coming down. Thanks God!

For tomorrow we have planned a trip to San Diego for picking up our satellite dish, and Bea wants to come along. Alright so we'll be starting early before the heat of the day rolls along.


  1. Again, this reminds me of Steinbeck's book,Travels with Charlie. :-)

  2. The one thing you don't want to do in the desert is leave your awning out and windows open.
    Campfires to finish off your day is always relaxing.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.


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