Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Adventurous Tuesday

It was time to get a refill of propane and gas for the van. Since both items are considerably cheaper in Arizona than in California, we had decided to take a drive to Yuma. Because of it was a beautiful blue-sky day, we ventured on and took a trip to Martinez Lake and the Imperial Nat'l Wildlife Refuge, an area we had never seen before.

A few miles north of the East Entrance to the Yuma Proving Grounds, the Martinez Lake Rd turns west off Hwy 95.

The road is of excellent standard all the way to the Imperial Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. 


The Imperial Nat'l Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941 to protect habitat for a variety of migratory birds and other wildlife. It encompasses 30 miles of the lower Colorado River  in Arizona and California, including the last unchannelized section before the river enters Mexico. The river and its associated backwater lakes and wetlands are a green oasis, contrasting with the surrounding desert mountains.

The Visitor Center exhibits offers great insight into the biodiversity of the area. Unfortunately, the fellow who was staffing the center had no interest in speaking to the visitors. He prefered to look into his Smart Phone, while several people were walking through the center. My guess is that he is a non-motivated volunteer.

Spring has come to the desert

Outside of the building they had 3 desert tortoises which could be observed from a walkway.

There is also a covered picnic area with benches where we ate our lunch.

Waiting for a handout

Afterwards we followed the Red Cloud Mine Rd. west into the desert mountains. Three view points can be accessed by vehicle. The last one, called 'Ironwood View' also marks the ending of the maintained road. For further travel a 4x4 high-clearance vehicle is recommended. We parked at Ironwood View and hiked down the 4x4 road until we reached a hilltop with truly magnificent views. It might be possible to continue on the dirt road with a 2WD, but it would probably depend on weather conditions. And we saw several bigger rocks in the middle of the road. 

The Red Cloud Mine

Since 1877, the Red Cloud Mine has produced the highest quality Wulfenite specimens in the world. For a fee people can search and collect beautiful gems in the mine.

The different ground colors of the area are mesmerizing and the rock formations astounding. 

But the sun was burning down on us and even though temps were not predicted to reach 70F, it was very hot in the sun. 

Anything more to eat here?

Our van was parked on the top of a hill and we had to hike back up. Almost reaching the van I looked at Dixie and got concerned that this was too much of a strain for her. Once we had her back in the van she drank some water and started to relax. The whole hike had not been more than a 1km (0.6miles) one way, but it is easy to underestimate the body's need for water.

Leaving the Wildlife area, we explored the old village of Martinez Lake. Originally, a fishing village in the fifties, it turned into a vacation spot, when the waters of the Colorado declined. We were not impressed about Martinez Lake Village. The entire area seems to lack planning. In between houses (they were all vacant) old crappy trailers had been set up. The whole place looked like a slum. Some people had built nice quite large homes, but the neighbourhood witnessed about decay and abondonment. The little marina was mostly empty, except a few old decrepit boats, one being a destroyed still floating houseboat. 

The Colorado River is supposed to be at the foot of these mountains

American Irony

1 comment:

  1. Hallo, Peter
    Das ist wieder einmal ein ganz toller interessanter Bericht. Mach weiter so lieber Peter


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