Mojave Snowbird Trip – Palm Canyon, Kofa

Having spent a couple of days at camp it was time to ‘do something’. Palm Canyon in Kofa Wildlife Refuge had been recommended. (Kofa comes from King of Arizona)

The rain had left some large puddles on the road out of camp.
All the humidity after the rain made it slightly hazy in the desert, Kofa Wildlife Refuge.

Palm Canyon is in a small range of mountains in the centre of Kofa, there is a rough trail into the canyon which cuts deep into the mountains. This is the only place in Arizona where native palm trees still grow, ironically they are California Palms.

The palms are in the crevice on the far side of the canyon, apparently there are a few more dotted around but the majority are here.

The official trail is only half a mile long and stops at the view of the palms but many people have gone further, the trail was sometimes hard to follow and involved scrambling over damp rocks in places, I managed another half mile.

Looking further up into Palm Canyon.
Everything in the canyon had sprung to life with the rains.
The end of the trail for me, it was completely overgrown and rocky.

After visiting Palm Canyon I drove further southeast in Kofa and up King Road. There was some nice scenery and great camping spots so I decided to move my camp here in the morning.

Mojave Snowbird Trip – Wet Desert

The forecast couldn’t make its mind up over the last few days, would there be rain, when, maybe…

It did start to rain at sunset on the 14th and rained lightly on and off all night, I awoke to a very different desert

Foggy Sonoran Desert

The rain got harder as the morning went on, judging by the amount in the cup holders of the cooler we got about 3/4″ (great rain gauge!)

View from the caravan door after the fog cleared.
My ditch scheme worked quite well.
Perhaps I should have extended the ditches a little further.

The rain slowed down later in the afternoon so it was time to go for a walk.

Quite a lot of water about and some nice little streams flowing, Biff seemed bemused by it all and sat down several times requiring a biscuit to move again.
You could almost hear the desert plants sucking up the moisture.
Some nice flowers about

The rain stopped while we were walking and by sunset the desert had returned to sunshine, we are promised sun and a high of 68F tomorrow.

Mojave Snowbird Trip – Colorado River

I was having a lazy day but Biff has a way of letting me know he’s ready to do something

The camping web sites mention numerous places to camp right by the Colorado River but also talk about homeless people and litter, I thought I’d take a look anyway. We drove down the Arizona side of the Colorado River south for about 15 miles. There were quite a lot of places to camp and almost no people, the first few sites at the north end nearest Blythe had some glass and other litter but a few miles downstream they were fine. They were not as interesting as the desert sites though because the ground was covered with brush and a lot of dead trees. The Arizona side of the river is not farmed at all but the California side has continuous farms growing cotton and lettuce.

Colorado River, looking upstream, North.
Colorado River looking upstream from the Cibola Bridge, there are several parks on the California side as well as the farms.

Mojave Snowbird Trip – Dome Rock Road

Biff had an easy morning.

I decided to head over to Quartzsite to check out the scene but Biff needed walking first so I stopped at another potential camping area, Dome Rock Road. There was nothing special about the camping there and the phone signal was weak so I crossed that one off my list. We found a canyon on the north side of the interstate and after driving up it a way took to our feets.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Saguaro cactus skeleton before.

We walked up the canyon for about a mile and half, passing many mine claims, there were a couple of people working claims at the bottom of the canyon, I assume they are looking for gold.

Saguaro – over 70 years old since it has arms.
This Ocotillo had all red leaves, presumably they are about to fall.
The top of the canyon was a pass into the next valley west, it looked quite green, in a desert sort of way.

As I was walking back down the canyon I looked around at the slopes, they were covered in cholla cacti, not a Joshua Tree in site. At that point I began to realize that I was actually in the Sonoran Desert rather than the Mojave, oops. Saguaro and Ocotillo are more common in the Sonoran and the absence of Joshua Trees is a giveaway.

Looking east down the canyon, not a Joshua Tree to be seen.
A Chain Cholla just about to flower, don’t think I’ve seen that before either.

After the hike I drove into Quartzsite, the traffic was backed up on the freeway ramp and then it started to rain, so I just drove through town and back to camp. There are going to be too many people in Quartzsite for me!

Less crowded back at camp.
Biff found a dead Ocotillo which proved resistant to shredding but he carried it for about a mile.

Mojave Snowbird Trip – Chemehuevi Mountains

The what mountains? Amazing how many unknown places there are down here in the Mojave, I stopped on a gravel patch next to US95 and discovered these!

It was so nice at Sand Mine Road this morning I had a hard time leaving and almost stayed another day, but I have a couple of weeks and can get further south with that much time so off I went. The drive through Lake Mead National Recreation Area is fantastic, if you like barren rocky desert with rocky mountains, which I do. I definitely need to get back there and explore a lot more. My intended destination was the Dead Mountains, the BLM web site showed a single camp site north of the wilderness area along a dirt road. What they didn’t say is that the road is really a narrow sandy two track unsuitable for The Caravan. I pushed on trying to find another boondocking spot but there was nothing close, I ended up continuing on south of Needles on US95 and pulled over in the gravel spot.

Biff and I went for a short walk around camp to see what could be found, I found cactus and succulents, he had other interests…

This barrel cactus was about 3 feet tall, no cactus in Wayne County gets that tall (because of the cold)
Biff’s interests were more edible than mine , though he buried this one for later. He also picked up a cactus skeleton and somewhat bemused by it.
A very healthy Ocotillo, about 15 feet tall with the central canes being about 2″ wide.
Ocotillos only get their leaves after a rainfall though they can keep them quite a long time. Most of the time they look like dead sticks standing up in the desert.
The ‘deadly’ Cholla, the pieces jump off and attach themselves firmly to whatever they touch, it is very painful to remove them.
I believe that the little ‘crown’ in the middle of the picture is where the last fruit was, but it could also be the beginning of a flower (experts?)
Some cactus just love rock gardens, these two were about 9″ tall.
Even the normally bedraggled creosote bushes were putting on a show.