Exploring the Rugged Terrain of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge by Foot

Anne Bonfert

ArizonaRobert Murray/ Unsplash

The State of Arizona is attracting many visitors each year with its vast and ever-changing landscapes. Many wilderness areas and National Parks have been created to showcase the beauty of the country and to protects its wildlife and natural environment.

One of these areas is the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge which had been originally established to protect the desert bighorn sheep. In 1939 it became its name and covers 665.000 acres of land. The refuge is part of the Sonoran desert and is characterized by gentle foothill slopes as well as sharp peaks.

The population of the bighorn sheep has since recovered and in this wildlife refuge, they've recently counted the animals to a number of 430 animals. The rough terrain and rugged mountain slopes are their home surrounding the desert plains. Over the years this population became the source for transplanting animals into other refuges and wildlife habitats throughout Arizona.

Next to the bighorn sheep, there are many other animals to be found in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge such as the badger, desert tortoises, and kit fox. The cougher has established his presence in the park and can be found in this refuge as well. Many bird species are also home to the habitat and white-winged doves, northern flickers, and cactus wren can be found next to other birds.

This wildlife refuge isn't much explored and little visited. Being one of the hottest and most of the beaten track located areas in southern Arizona it has a lot of beauty to offer for those making the effort and exploring the region.

Hiking abandoned trails and walking in solitude across the vastness of the landscape is as wild as this country gets. Palm Canyon is a popular point for visitors where some of the only rare palm trees grow in this part of the country. The California fan palm is growing along the trail that is easy to follow but rather a rough adventure. Boulders and large rocks have to be conquered when completing the trail.

Other trails will leads you to stunning viewpoints and outlooks across canyons and the vastness of the desert landscape.

There's no designated campground at Kofa National Wildlife Refuge but there are many great opportunities for basic camping. One should follow the rules of leave-no-trace when staying in the park overnight and enjoy the solitude in the evenings and early mornings.

You're getting to the wildlife refuge when driving south on Route 95 out of Quartzsite. Palm Canyon Road can be accessed in any vehicle in good weather conditions. Kofa Queen Canyon Road requires high-clearance vehicles and a four-wheel drive is recommended. Always be prepared for the worst since there's no help out here. Back roads can be dangerous especially in bad weather conditions. Always pack enough water and let someone know where you are going.


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I am a traveler. Photographer. Writer. Teacher. Skydiving instructor. Adventure enthusiast. Nature lover. And fell in love with the African continent. My stories go around travel, nature and all kinds of adventurous activities.


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