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Colorado River - Blythe to Walter's Camp, AZ
mini location map2014-04-14
20 by photographer avatarazbackpackr
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Colorado River - Blythe to Walter's Camp, AZ 
Colorado River - Blythe to Walter's Camp, AZ
Kayak avatar Apr 14 2014
Kayak42.85 Miles
Kayak42.85 Miles2 Days   2 Hrs   11 Mns   
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Kayaking 42 miles down the river from Blythe to Walter's Camp is far less popular than some of the other stretches of river I've paddled this year. It's less scenic, so it doesn't get the crowds. However, there are a lot of places to camp, especially on the Arizona side. And it was plenty scenic in some areas. Yes, a lot of it is pretty bland, between two levees. But the river has strong, fast current, so you can get to the next campsites pretty fast. A run of 16 miles in a day is not as onerous here as it is downriver where Imperial Dam is slowing down the current.

We saw gorgeous sunrises and sunsets while at our three river camps. There are all different kinds of water birds. Although we saw a lot of motorboats and river lice (jetskis) the first day, near Blythe/Ehrenberg, we saw no boats at all on days two and three!

Day 1. We started at Mayflower Park, about 6.7 miles upstream from the I-10 bridge, on the California side. Mayflower Park (Riverside County) has a very nice campground. We camped there Sunday night. Early Monday morning we rigged our boats in our campsite, with our wheel carts attached. Then we left the boats and carts and drove our two vehicles to Walter's Camp, which is south of Palo Verde CA. We had arranged for one of the managers at WC to shuttle us back to Mayflower. Once she had us back to Mayflower we wheeled our boats down the launch ramp to the water's edge, then we gave her our two carts and she took them back to Walter's Camp with her. This shuttling arrangement cost money of course. It is something you'd have to set up with them, since they don't do it all the time. Since we already know them from a previous trip this went smoothly. And they do not have time to do it at the drop of a a hat. We had to arrange it according to their schedule.

Everything went so smoothly that despite the two hours spent doing the shuttle we were launching at 10 a.m. We floated fast downstream, hardly having to paddle. As we reached the I-10 bridge area we came into a section that is very popular with fast boats and jetskis, so we had to watch ourselves. And then I had a minor disaster when passing by a dock. The stern of my kayak clipped the corner of the dock as I went by, and broke the rudder cable. We stopped at a noisy beach so that I could try to fix it, but with limited tools I was not able to reattach it. We carried on.

I was so used to using that rudder, that at first I was all over the place, not keeping my boat straight. I had to use some paddling technique to keep it tracking straight ahead. Pretty soon I was getting used to this mode, and for the rest of the trip I didn't really miss that rudder very often. It was just a crutch after all.

My friend had put a lot of time into using Google Earth and the two available river maps to put the coordinates of possible lunch stops and campsites onto a GPS. I have to say, between Blythe and Oxbow there are an astonishing number of possible campsites along this stretch of river.

The water is very pretty, and the river was high, and running fast. We had a good run of it all day, with stops at several nice beaches. The beach where we camped was not far upstream from McIntyre Campground, another Riverside County park. It was hot on our beach in the late afternoon, and this was the only shadeless campsite we had on the trip. I set up my tarp, using my kayak and two hiking poles, and made a nice place to set our camp chairs. As soon as the sun went down it cooled off a lot.

That night there was a lunar eclipse. My friend wanted to watch the whole thing and sat up most of the night. I'm no night owl. During the eclipse I looked out of the tent, said, "Oh! Look at the eclipse!" and went back to sleep.

Day 2: The morning was as beautiful, fresh and clean a desert spring morning as you could want. The water was glassy, reflecting greens, blues and everything in between. Without hurrying we were able to launch by 9 a.m.

While it was a tad warm during the day it is easy to keep cool while paddling. I wear a long-sleeved shirt and I put a sarong over my bare legs. I can dampen the sleeves of the shirt and the sarong if I feel too hot. I wear a very big hat. I use a lot of sunscreen, even under my clothes. I don't get sunburned. I don't even get very tan. I'm getting too old and wrinkled-up for that sort of nonsense. It was not exceedingly hot, maybe in the 90's.

First stop was McIntyre Park, another Riverside County campground. They have a store. I needed a couple of things, and my pal wanted more beer. Well, they don't sell beer at McIntyre. You bring your own beer, and if you are particularly charming, you can also mooch beer off the motorboat people. They have lots of beer, and they are very curious about two kayakers loaded down with camping gear. They want to chat with you, ask how far you have come downriver, and where you are going. And then you ask them if they have any beer. You can offer to buy it from them, of course. But they will generally just give it to you. However, the only boats we saw on the trip were on Day 1. So, my pal was out of beer by the end of Day 2. Poor thing!

So, we ran on down the river. What a pleasant day! We saw no other boats at all. There were lots of campsites. We passed under the Cibola Farmers' Bridge. We pulled into an interesting lagoon on the California side. It looked like a good place to camp. But it was too early to camp. So we went on. We camped at Oxbow BLM campground--river right, the CA side. It is in Arizona, however. (Sometimes the river does not follow the state boundary exactly.) It is free camping for boaters! No potable water or showers, just pit toilets, picnic tables, lots and lots of shade, a good launch ramp, and very nice hosts. It's a popular snowbird area, but most of the snowbirds had left. It's a bit run-down, I would say, but was still a very good place to camp. The only real issue was where to put our boats. We no longer had our wheels, and we are both getting to the point where carrying kayaks is hard on us. But we did carry them to the top of the ramp.

This campground is right next to the Oxbow Lake, which does not connect to the river. It is a birder's paradise. I have paddled on the Oxbow Lake, also, about 5 years ago.

Day 3: The last day of our grand voyage dawned clear and beautiful, with sunrise across the river reflecting on the water. We were on our way before 9 a.m this time. We wanted to make it to Walter's Camp, about 12 or 13 miles, by lunchtime so that we could de-rig and go to Yuma for lunch. We didn't make very many stops. We peeked in at the place on the Arizona side where we had originally intended to camp, called Sandy Cove. The locals call it "Hippie Hole" and say bad things about it. They say it is trashy, filthy and way too busy. We passed by and saw it is a lagoon with a huge beach. There were no crowds there, but we were very glad we had stayed at Oxbow Campground, which was so nice.

Sandy Cove is just about the last easy stop on that stretch of river. We did stop to see the northern end of Cibola Lake on the AZ side. There is a marginally okay place to pull in there. We walked along the levee road and took a look at the lake. A big black vulture sitting on a signpost gave us the eye, and let us get fairly close before it flew off. Then it was back to the boats for the last bit of the trip, de-rigging, and good-bye to the Lower Colorado River until next fall, when the weather is cooler again.

Another 42 miles under my paddle, and 110 river miles since January. I figure I am about 1/5 to 1/4 done with paddling from upper Lake Mead to the Mexican border. I'm doing it in sections.

Map: ... perial.pdf
Mayflower Campground: ... park-home/
McIntyre Campground:
Oxbow Campground: ... oxbow.html
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
Palo Verde trees were in bloom.
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.
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