February 19, 2019 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Mittry Lake Wildfire
Mittry Lake Wildfire

A Little Nightime Excitement and a Trip to the Picacho State Recreation Area

Mittry Lake Wildfire
Mittry Lake Wildfire

A slight smell of smoke woke me from a dead sleep the other night and I glanced out the bedroom window to the scene above. The wildfire was about 3/4 mile away at that time and the wind, fortunately was driving it towards the Imperial Dam, not towards the area I was camping. The fire smoldered for three days and the burn covered a distance of a couple miles all the way up to the road going through the Yuma proving grounds.

Imperial Dam LTVA Sunrise
Imperial Dam LTVA Sunrise

Just another desert sunrise from the campsite.

Picacho State Recreation Area
Along the Road to Picacho State Recreation Area

Picacho State Recreation Area

Picacho State Recreation Area
Along the Road to Picacho State Recreation Area

I was waiting for a day with blue skies and cumulous clouds to venture out the very washboarded 18 mile gravel road to the Colorado River and the Picacho State Recreation Area. I had those conditions when I left camp but the clouds were blown away by the time I reached the river.

Picacho State Recreation Area
Along the Road to Picacho State Recreation Area
Colorado River
Colorado River

The gravel road is dusty and washboarded, but there are no serious grades along the route and the road can pretty much be traveled by any type of rig. There is a nice primitive campground near the river, probably close to 50 level campsites with water and a dump station and when I was there only about five small camping units were present. Certainly a place to get away from it all, but I probably would not subject my motorhome to the washboarded road in.

Picacho State Recreation Area
Picacho State Recreation Area
Picacho State Recreation Area
Picacho State Recreation Area

There are a couple of nice picnic areas and boat launch ramps along the river.

January 12B, 2015 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

View across the Colorado River
View across the Colorado River

Part 2: A Trip to California’s Picacho Recreation Area

A little more on the one of the most beautiful places you have never heard of! As you can see from the image above, I could not have chosen a more perfect day to discover this treasure, just 25 miles north of Yuma.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Arizona Hills
Arizona Hills
Cloud shadows
Cloud shadows
Cloud shadows
Cloud shadows

The many clouds today added a bit of drama to all the desert landscape .

Interesting rocks
Interesting rocks

On the second half of the road in I passed many spots that made me wish I had a little more knowledge of geology, I saw a lot of interesting rocks and formations and am a little curious how they came to be.

Turnoff for river overlook road
Turnoff for river overlook road

If you happen to venture out here, be sure to go out the River Overlook Road, the turn off the main road is marked as shown above.

The River Overlook Road is a bit narrow in spots
The River Overlook Road is a bit narrow in spots

The road is suitable for almost any regular vehicle, but it does get a little rugged in spots, and is very narrow as it passes over one particular fill stretch shown above. It actually is narrower than the above image suggests. I wouldn’t want to be driving  a dually over this one stretch as I was a little worried where my wheels were just driving my skinny Prius.

Perfect desert day
Perfect desert day
Desert Pastels
Desert Pastels
Sun and shadow
Sun and shadow

There are some nice shots along this road …..

Grand view from the River Overlook Road
Grand view from the River Overlook Road
Colorado River landscape
Colorado River landscape

and the view from the overlook is spectacular. FYI: there is room to turnaround at the end of the road.

You also will want to venture out the Taylor lake Road at least to the picnic/boat launch area a few miles in. The road continues on past that point but 4 wheel drive is recommended. I tried to go on a little ways, but decided it was a little too iffy for my NCV ( no clearance vehicle ).

Desert colors along Taylor Lake Road
Desert colors along Taylor Lake Road
Desert colors along Taylor Lake Road
Desert colors along Taylor Lake Road

These last two images were the last shots I took today overlooking Taylor Lake.

Taylor Lake
Taylor Lake

This one looking west …

Taylor Lake
Taylor Lake

and this looking east. Hard to believe that this is in the middle of the desert, barren, dry, and desolate … then you encounter this. Not a bad place to end a totally unexpected, very rewarding day at the Picacho Recreation Area, probably ( so far at least ) the most wonderful place I had never heard of.

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I believe ( I am keeping my fingers crossed ) that my ability to do blog posts in a timely manner has finally, after a month of frustration, been resolved. For those of you who follow this blog, you may have to re- bookmark the page to this new address:    ramcquade.com

January 12, 2015 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Picacho Recreation Area, Colorado River and the hills beyond
Picacho Recreation Area, Colorado River and the hills beyond

A Trip to California’s Picacho Recreation Area

Getting a little restless after several days of vehicle maintenance, appointments for solar upgrades, tidying up year end stuff, I checked out possible road trips on Google Earth and saw what looked like might be possible desert color in a spot referred to on the map as Picacho Recreation Area. So, this morning, under leaden skies after yesterday’s rain, I load up the photo gear and headed west on S24 to connect with Picacho Road on the north end of Yuma.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Thinning the lettuce plants
Thinning the lettuce plants

On the way, I had to stop for a shot when I noticed this crew parading down through a field of lettuce. I assumed they were weeding, but on second glance, I think they are perhaps just thinning the new rows of lettuce. Any time you go almost anywhere from the LTVA here, you must pass through and along miles of agricultural fields. I have always been aware of this area being the source of most of the country’s winter veggies, but until you actually see it up close, the scale of the operations is hard to comprehend.

I had calculated ( from Google Maps ) that it was probably about 18 miles in to Picacho from the point Picacho Road joined S24 and I was aware that it was a dirt road all the way. The first 9 miles or so is all but flat, quite wide, and other than the fact that it is very washboardy, not a bad road at all.

Lots of nothing on Picacho Road
Lots of nothing on Picacho Road

Most of these first few miles travel through some of the most desolate, featureless desert terrain I have ever seen, made more so by the dull grey skies. I wasn’t too concerned about the overcast skies for the forecast called for beautiful sunny weather moving in today, and as I was heading north on flat terrain, I could see sun and blue skies to the not too distant north.

Seeing a little light
Beginning to see a little light

About 8 miles in, the clouds began to break and the land began to rise.

Road to Picacho, the clouds start to break
Road to Picacho, the clouds start to break

Here the dirt road narrows a bit and enters an area with some slight twists and turns, still very easy to handle for an RV, as long as you take it easy and don’t mind the cups rattling in the cupboards.

Road to Picacho,the road narrows
Road to Picacho,the road narrows
Road to Picacho, a hint of what's to come
Road to Picacho, a hint of what’s to come

Going through this first series of hills, the view opens up a little and the previously distant nice weather appears a little closer. The bleak flat desert starts to gain some color and interesting terrain begins to roll in.

Picacho Road, the desert comes to life
Picacho Road, the desert comes to life
Picacho Road, the desert comes to life
Picacho Road, the desert comes to life
One of the few sharp curves on Picacho Road
One of the few sharp curves on Picacho Road

There are a couple of sharp turns and one potentially nasty spot where the road descends into a wash that could be tough to navigate when it gets real soft and muddy after a heavy rain. After yesterday’s light rains, that area was a little slick and there were 8 inch deep puddles covering the road in places as you climbed back up out of the wash. No big deal today, but I wouldn’t attempt this road after any heavy rain or you would be turning back about 14 miles in.

Road to Picacho, through the wash
Road to Picacho, through the wash

As you approach the homestretch, you encounter an area where the road runs for half a mile of so in what certainly looks like a wash, and I would assume this section would be problematic in heavy rains ….

On the edge of the wash
On the edge of the wash

but it is kind of picturesque. Go around the corner and you have arrived at the Picacho Recreation Area. There is a pretty nice primitive campground here, situated in a grove of trees with picnic tables, dump station and water spigots. No hookups, but nice flat sites and usually no people I am told. You can’t get much farther away from it all than here, it is a very peaceful and quiet setting. There are a couple of boat launch and picnic areas here as well.

By now the grey skies were gone, replaced with puffy white cumulus clouds against an unbelievable blue sky. And I was totally unprepared for just how beautiful this place is.

Taylor lake and the hills beyond
Taylor lake and the hills beyond

This was my first view of the mighty Colorado River and the hills beyond on the Arizona side of the river.

Picacho Recreation Area, Colorado River and the hills beyond
Picacho Recreation Area, Colorado River and the hills beyond
Picacho Recreation Area, Colorado River and the hills beyond
Picacho Recreation Area, Colorado River and the hills beyond

The rapidly moving shadows on the distant hills from the clouds above provided an interesting and ever-changing backdrop for the Colorado River and its lush wetlands vegetation, quite the oasis in this desert environment.

Picacho Recreation Area, Colorado River and the hills beyond
Picacho Recreation Area, Colorado River and the hills beyond

Just an incredibly beautiful place to be on an equally gorgeous day!

More in the next post when I finish processing the 400 or so shots I took on this trip.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

My blog posting problems finally resolved?

I believe ( I am keeping my fingers crossed ) that my ability to do blog posts in a timely manner has finally, after a month of frustration, been resolved. For those of you who follow this blog, you may have to re- bookmark the page to this new address:    ramcquade.com