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Bill Williams River NWR, AZ

no permit
27 6 1
Guide 6 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Southwest > Parker
4 of 5 by 2
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Distance One Way 0 miles
Trailhead Elevation 491 feet
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Perennial Creek
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
11  2019-03-05
Bill Williams River & Lake Havasu Kayak Camp
32  2015-04-20
Lake Havasu 3-day Kayak Trip
3  2015-01-03 azbackpackr
10  2014-11-20 azbackpackr
11  2012-04-14 The_Eagle
3  2010-08-23 ssk44
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Associated Areas
list map done
Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge USFWS
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Nov
Sun  6:24am - 6:35pm
2 Alternative
Flora Nearby

Overview: US Fish & Wildlife Service: The Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge offers a unique and special recreational opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts of all types. The refuge was established in 1941 and encompasses 6,105 acres of diverse Sonoran Desert and wetlands. Activities within the refuge consist of wildlife watching, off-trail hiking, canoeing/kayaking, fishing, and hunting. Primary park access points are refuge headquarters and Planet Ranch Road.

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One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Bill Williams River NWR
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Lake Havasu 3-day Kayak Trip
This was pretty close to being an epic trip--a three-day kayaking adventure along the south end of Lake Havasu. It was really fun. This end of the 45-mile-long lake is far less developed than the northern end. From Parker Dam up to Rotary Park is about 18 miles but we poked into many deep coves, bays and canyons which added to our mileage. We camped on a white sandy beach the first night, and on an island the second night.

We saw many water birds, plus a big horn ram. We saw many beautiful bays and little hidden coves with beautiful red cliffs. A few flowers were in bloom, also. I did a little swimming, although the water is a bit chilly this time of year. I also took several strolls to the tops of dunes to see the view.

We started at the south end and paddled north, crossing the lake a few times. This can be dicey due to speed boats in the middle. We did the trip in this direction due to the prevailing wind, which was from the south. Sometimes it was pretty breezy. A couple of times we had heavy chop, white caps, and some one and two-foot swells to contend with. I was glad to have brought a spray skirt, but my friend didn't have one. But she was okay.

Many boat-in campsites have been developed by both the BLM and the AZ State Parks--I think the total number is about 100 sites. BLM sites were MUCH better. AZ sites were dirty and shabby, and cost 4X as much if you believed the signs. BLM wants $10 per night per group of 6 or fewer. AZ State Parks wanted $20 per vessel. So, if you interpret that literally, two little kayaks, two people, one campsite, $40. How dumb is that? And the AZ Parks don't take care of their sites very well. BLM is out there with more than one boat every day doing maintenance. The BLM's pit toilets were amazingly clean-they even smelled sweet! Lots of extra TP. Trash has been emptied, etc. Sites are very clean. AZ sites had a lot of filth left over from spring break madness, but some of it seemed older than that. Just icky. Dirty pit toilets, dirty everything. Picnic tables sometimes at a huge slant in the AZ sites, also, which they could fix with some labor, but they don't send people to do it.

Both agencies might want to consider a sign which says: "Leave this site cleaner than you found it." An effort to educate the boating public will eventually pay off.

This trip marked the completion of another dam-to-dam section of the lower Colorado River for me. This section is Davis Dam (near Bullhead City) to Parker Dam. It includes the Topock Gorge. It's a bit under 90 miles between these two dams, and I completed paddling it in quite a few day trips, plus this three-day trip.

This is the end of my 6-month season down in the desert. I'll head for the high country this week to spend 6 months in Williams. So, this winter I completed paddling this dam-to-dam section of the Colorado River. Plus I completed Parker Dam to Headgate Rock Dam, and Imperial Dam to Laguna Dam. I am not finished with my project of paddling the entire lower Colorado River and its reservoirs, but I'm glad I have something to look forward to next winter! Next winter I hope to complete Lake Mohave, plus Headgate Rock Dam (in Parker) to Blythe, and also Yuma to Morelos Dam. What about Lake Mead? I'll start working on that monster, too.
Bill Williams River NWR
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I was invited to tag along with outfitter Helen Howard to paddle with her guests and do a bit of birding. I saw more birds this time than usual, but one of the people there, a high school girl, was so good at spotting and hearing birds that I was astonished. :worthy:

I couldn't see or hear all the birds she could, but did see some. Green heron, ruddy duck, double-crested cormorant, osprey, great egret, snowy egret, violet green swallow, tree swallow. They heard woodpeckers, towhees, wrens, rails, etc.
Bill Williams River NWR
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This is one of the prettiest places I've kayaked in Arizona. And it's very, very easy. In fact, it's too short. I might not be inclined to go back very often, unless I also plan to camp at one of the BLM boat-in campgrounds along Lake Havasu.

Just to be clear, this wildlife refuge is an arm of Lake Havasu. So it's not as though you are paddling up a river. The lake has backed up into what used to be the lower reaches of Bill Williams River, which is basically just a desert creek. I have done the backpacking trip from Alamo Dam downstream a few miles, but that is way upstream from this area.

Birds I saw, but didn't photograph: Clark's Grebe, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Black Phoebe, some sort of brown-headed duck, a cormorant, and the ubiquitous coots, which my dad used to call "mud hens."

I was the only one there, which is how I prefer things.
Bill Williams River NWR
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I was in Earp, Ca for the Weekend and had a free afternoon. I had drawn up a Destination Hike using the tools on this site, including Google Earth. What the tools did not provide, or that I didn't take the time to check, was that my drawn track started on Private Property.

On to Plan B, which I did not have.

I knew this area was out there but knew nothing about it. I stopped in the Main Office for Bill Williams NWR (National Wildlife Refuge) on the west side of 95, and talked to one of the park rangers.
Me "Any Hiking out there?", Nice Park Ranger Lady "Only 6000 plus acres".
Me - "What kind of trails?" Nice Park Ranger Lady "We Can't have any permanent trails out there, they'd get washed away".

I got a few ideas and decided I'd drive to the end of the road, see what the territory offered, and then hike in the time I had available before I had to get back to Earp.
I wanted to get down to the Bill Williams River.

The first area I tried was at the end of the road. Checking the GPS, this was an old road that went right to the river. Unfortunately 1/4 mile in the Road was flooded from the previous day and mornings rain.

Next on the way back, I had seen a spot in the area called Mosquito Flats that had a sign w/ binoculars. So off again. This time I got stopped in a wet jungle of thick vegetation. But did see some flowers I hadn't seen before.

Next was a Slot Canyon that looked promising. This proved to be the best option of the 3, but unfortunately the river was protected by my favorite...Catsclaw. I could hear it, but could not see it.

Out of time, I had to retreat to Earp

Now that I have a feel for the area, I'd like to come back w/ a plan. That plan may involve a Kayak.

The area is most defiantly worth a check. From green marshes with tall reeds, to Poplar trees, to Saguaros, to stark desert, and tall craggly peaks, this area has it all.
Hard to believe it's Arizona

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
To get to Bill Williams River NWR from Lake Havasu City, follow Arizona Highway 95 south approximately 23 miles. Refuge headquarters are located between mileposts 160 and 161 and are open Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Call 1-520-667-4144 for more info.
page created by ssk44 on Aug 23 2010 5:03 pm
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