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Squaw Lake Campground, CA

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Rated  Favorite Wish List CA > Inland
5 of 5 by 1
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Trailhead Elevation 222 feet
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
12  2018-03-06
Squaw Lake Loops
10  2015-02-14
Colorado River - Imperial Dam Loop
28  2014-02-16
Colorado River - Walter's Camp to Squaw Lake
14  2014-01-26
Squaw Lake Loop
Author azbackpackr
author avatar Guides 26
Routes 365
Photos 4,732
Trips 720 map ( 5,214 miles )
Age 66 Female Gender
Location Flag-summer-Needles-winter
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Dec, Jan, Feb, Nov → Any
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  5:22am - 5:43pm
5 Alternative
by azbackpackr

This is one of my favorite campgrounds on the Colorado River. It is managed by the Yuma BLM office. It is a wonderful place for a base camp if you want to do lot of one-day paddle trips. It's also a good place to end a long trip, if you have started from several days upriver. (The disadvantage to this is that you have to pay the regular camping fee to park your car there for several days.) If you have the federal Senior Pass it's half price. There is also a 6-month pass available. Check current rates.

The main part of the campground is usually taken up with RVs, although you can tent in any of those spaces. There are no hookups for the RVs, just a dump station near the camp host. I don't recommend you tent near the RVs due to the noise of generators running. It is much, much nicer to camp way out on the peninsula, which is closed to cars. The camp host has good wheelbarrows to carry your gear down there. Most kayakers will opt for the peninsula. It has its own restroom with hot showers. (The showers are operated by tokens. You can get tokens using one-dollar bills in a token machine near the main parking lot.)

The peninsula sticks out into the lake, and all the campsites are by the water. You will be able to put your kayaks or canoes in camp right by where you will be launching them. You can either carry or wheel them down onto the peninsula, or you can launch them at the nearby boat ramp and paddle over to your campsite, and pull them onto shore there.

After paying your fee, drive down and park your vehicle as close to the peninsula as you can find a spot. Walk up to the host's RV and pick up a wheelbarrow. Carrying something to hold your spot, walk down and around the borders of the peninsula and pick out your site. Then come back and load your wheelbarrow, and take it down to your site.

Campfires are allowed, but of course you need to bring your own wood.

Make sure all your food and your trash bag are secured at night, and when you go paddling. There are many raccoons in the area. To secure your food in a cooler, wrap a cam strap or rope around it, or a ratcheting bicycle cable lock. Do not have any food in your tent at any time. Don't hang your garbage bag from a tree, they will get to it, even if it is way out on the slimmest possible branch! Yes, I know this from experience! They are very rascally buggers, but they won't hurt you. If you do not have a secure box or cooler that you can lock or strap closed, then take all your food back to the car at night. You can also store your food in your boat hatches if you have really tight ones. I keep all my dry food in my hatches and have not had raccoon trouble. However, I've heard that in other parts of the country raccoons are known to chew on boat hatches.

There are many kayaking loops you can take from here, or you can easily cartop your boats over to the Old River Channel launch ramp just north of Laguna Dam. There is also a small network of trails nearby, easy to find, just to the north of the campground, which give amazing views of the surrounding area, the backwater channels of the lower Colorado River, and Senator Wash Reservoir. Needless to say, fishing is also very popular here. The campground has a swimming beach, if you happen to be there in the summer or fall when the water is warm. Summers here are extremely hot, but still very busy with RVers and motorized water sports enthusiasts. Late fall through early spring are the best seasons for paddlers, however.

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2018-03-10 azbackpackr
    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
    Squaw Lake Campground
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Squaw Lake Loops
    From Squaw Lake Campground you can wander all over a very hilly nearby peninsula, which has several easy trail loops. From the tops of the hills the views are incredible. You can see up and down the Colorado River, and many backwater channels and coves. Senator Wash Reservoir, a land-locked impoundment (with no river access by boat) is off to the west. The rugged brown Chocolate Mountains and California's Picacho Peak are nearby, (not to be confused with the one in Arizona).
    Squaw Lake Campground
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Colorado River - Imperial Dam Loop
    I'd wanted to paddle this little loop for some time, first to see how it goes, and also to finish off another short section of the Colorado River. So I now have paddled ALMOST from Palo Verde Dam (above Blythe) to Imperial Dam.

    It was a very pleasant day to float down the river. When I got almost to the dam, as close to the dam as I was going to get, I hung a right into a backwater channel which would take me back to Squaw Lake where I was camping. I explored only one of the side lakes off this channel, and found a very interesting relic of a boathouse, and a beach to park my kayak, and even a picnic table. There was no one else around.

    I beached the boat and explored the area for a few minutes. After having lunch in the shade of a palo verde tree I got back in the boat and paddled INTO the boat house! It took a bit of maneuvering to turn my 17-foot boat around, but I didn't have to back out of there. I got it turned around so I could take photos as I left it as well.

    Then I paddled the rest of the side channel, and arrived at the channel leading back to Squaw Lake. A very easy and pleasant loop.
    Squaw Lake Campground
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Colorado River - Walter's Camp to Squaw Lake
    This was a three day kayak trip down the Lower Colorado River, camping on the shore at boat-in campsites. Since we were putting in at Walter's Camp, a private campground on the California side of the river, we camped there as well. Very good place to start, nice folks there. We left our shuttle vehicle there as well. We had great weather, in the 80's and 90's during the day, and fairly balmy at night as well. We saw bald eagles and all the usual birds, such as herons, egrets, coots, and ducks. At one point, early in the trip, my newly acquired rescue skills came into play, when one of my fellow paddlers found himself out of his boat, hanging onto the side, and drifting downriver. Do you know what a paddle float is? Well, it can save the day, and it sure did in this case. We camped at Carrizo Wash Boat-in Campsites at Picacho State Park and the next night at Ferguson Lake dispersed camping area. Ferguson is pretty marginal, and at first I thought the campsite was not too great, but we made it work for ourselves. We took out at Squaw Lake Campground. We didn't camp there, since it takes so much time to retrieve the shuttle vehicle, etc.

    All in all, it was a fantastic trip! We learned a lot about multiday kayaking, too! It was only the second time I had done it, and the first time was in a rental boat.
    Squaw Lake Campground
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Squaw Lake Loop
    After a wonderful paddle trip down the river the day before: we headed for Squaw Lake Campground on the California side of the river. We had lost a few participants who had not planned to camp. So we were down to about 10 people and 9 boats, I think. We had a great time sitting around the campfire that Saturday evening. Sunday we launched into the lake and headed for the waterway, which is a side channel that goes upstream and joins the Colorado River. The side channel has far less current than the river. This part of the Colorado is above both Laguna Dam and Imperial Dam, so it does carry a lot of water. What a great place area. Lots of wildlife (watch your food at night--lots of raccoons, and they will come inside your tent! They have no shame!

    I can't wait to go back! Stay tuned!

    Permit $$
    Special Use

    BLM Fee

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To car camp trip
    From Phoenix, take I-10 west about 130 miles to Quartzsite, Arizona. Turn south on US 95 and drive about 59 miles to Imperial Dam Road. You can't miss it because there are big old artillery guns set up there. It is also the road to the Army's Yuma Proving Grounds. Travel on Imperial Dam Road 7.2 miles. Then turn right onto Senator Wash Road. (You are now in California). Go 3.4 miles on Senator Wash Road until it dead-ends at Squaw Lake Campground. There are numerous helpful road signs along the way.
    page created by Al_HikesAZ on Mar 10 2018 7:41 am
    3 pack - loud whistle
    go prepared
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