As I am writing this article there is snow on the ground and the thermometer is registering some silly temperature way below the freezing mark and to top it off there is about three feet of snow on the ground, brrrrrrrrrrrrr. It’s early January and for some RVer’s; time to head to warmer climates. Lynda (my wife) and I live in the northwest so the southwest is usually our RV destination at least for part of the winter and early spring.
Southern California or Arizona are our preferred destinations. The weather in this area reminds us of early summer in the northwest except the weather is better, sunshine every day, you gotta love it.
There are many areas to visit in the southwest, the Colorado River Basin is one of Lynda (my wife) and my favorites. A huge area that offers many RVing and camping opportunities.
The Colorado river flows from Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado through California and Arizona (it is actually the border between these two states), to Mexico and the sea of Cortez.
The river is the lifeblood of the west, for millions of years, natives, settlers, miners and many others have been drawn to its life-sustaining waters.
Today the Colorado River is more valuable than ever supplying agriculture irrigation through a network of aqueducts to crop fields hundreds of miles away.
As an RV destination, the Colorado River Basin from Lake Powell in the north to Yuma on the Mexican border provides an oasis of opportunities for a multitude of activities from camping, fishing, and boating to ATVing and hiking, to mention a few.
Traveling this area requires a detailed atlas, check out the map books |Lynda and I use available on Amazon.com
A map book of California and Arizona are necessary to guide you through the Colorado River basin.
The north is better suited for late spring and summer explorations while the south is perfect in the winter. Exploring the northern basin in the winter will put you into, frigid temperatures, and even snow.
The many dams along the Colorado have created many lakes and tributaries, providing a much needed green belt through the south.
Yuma…the sunniest place on earth.
We start our journey of the Colorado River Basin at the southern most point, Yuma, Arizona near the Mexican and California border. The Yuma area is documented as the sunniest place on earth and the warmest north of the Mexican border. It’s a winter RV destination for thousands of snowbirds, who spend a few weeks or the entire winter enjoying the desert sunshine and the company of other RVers.
Most snowbirds prefer to settle in an RV Resort while others prefer the less congested desert and the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) government land areas. The dozens of RV resorts are the size small towns with all the amenities one could want, from swimming pools, and golf to pickleball and tennis. Most of the larger RV Resorts have enough clubs, classes, and entertainment to keep a retired couple busy all winter.
10 to 30 miles north of Yuma are several RV boondocking areas on both sides of the river. The Arizona side features Mitry Lake. The spectacular lake shore offers free private dry camping sites 10 days per year.
Lynda and I have stayed here many times, not just because it’s free, but the setting is amazing as you can see from the picture above. Camping next to a lake or any body of water always adds an extra dimension to the quality of your experience.
Above the lake is another free random dry camping area, a quiet area next to a tree-lined irrigation canal with a scenic mountain backdrop.
Mitry lake and the canal are popular destinations for anglers. The several times we camped in this area provided me with opportunities to speak with several fishermen trying their luck.
The lake supports a healthy population of stripers, bass, and catfish, plus other less popular species.
A few miles north of Mitry Lake for those who are not into dry camping or boondocking is the Hidden Shores RV Resort on the Colorado river just north of the Imperial Dam. A large resort with full RV hook ups as well as park model rentals and a small marina for exploring the miles of rivers and lake.
Reserve your spot well in advance. In fact, if you’re planning on traveling south to an RV park make your reservations early, a year in advance is common.
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Imperial Dam & Senator’s wash
A few miles north of Mitry lake north of the Imperial Dam on the California side of the Colorado river is Squaw lake. Dry camping is available next to the lake, although it’s a paved campground with curbs to keep your rig from accidentally straying onto the gravel. There is a boat launch next to the campground, making it possible to fish or travel up the river.
A mile west of Squaw lake is Senator’s wash reservoir, dry camping on the shore is popular. Squaw Lake and Senator’s reservoir are fee-based on the same ticket. The $75 fee (2016) is good for a year and you may stay at one or the other for 14 days at a time.
A detailed map is vital for this area, we had trouble finding this area with our GPS. Check out this great soft cover atlas, click here to see my review.
LTVA (long-term visitor’s area)
Up the hill from Senator’s wash reservoir is the Imperial Dam LTVA (Loneg Term visitors Area) This is a semi-organized random dry camping (boondocking) area with central RV dump, potable water, and trash. During the fall, winter and spring you will find hundreds if not thousands of boondockers homesteading in this large area.
This LTVA has a large social network including emergency CB radio monitoring as well as organized social events.
The fee here is minimal ($185. per season (2015), the fee includes the Quartzsite area and several other LTVA areas.
Farther up the river on the Arizona side is this pretty lake with a private campground and a small settlement called Fishers Landing. This area offers a small RV Park under the trees along with a boat launch and marina providing access to miles of the slow moving Colorado River.
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