CA – Picacho State Recreation Area

While visiting my friend Petra in the Yuma Arizona area, she invited me to join her for an adventure in Picacho, the California Picacho not the Arizona Picacho. How confusing! More so as I had the Arizona park on my list for chasing wildflowers and had never heard of the California park.

Of course I said YES. I love new adventures and especially ones recommended by friends. You all know by now I’m an opportunist and when opportunity arises I usually say YES!  This park is 25 miles north of Yuma and includes the Colorado River as well mining history and colorful badlands. Upon arrival, we were joined by Petra’s friend Lorene and hiked the Picacho Mills Historic Trail.

According to park interpretive literature, “the colored slopes are natural formations of volcanic tuff. Minerals cause the color variations.” As one who loves this type of geology, I was in heaven. That’s the Colorado River a haven for folks who enjoy fishing and boating.

The trails are in good condition and easy to follow, however they are made of decomposed rock so can be slippery.

The Beavertail cactus were just beginning to bloom. The bright pink was such a standout among the otherwise barren landscape.

The history is interesting.

Such fun to experience an area long loved by new friends Petra and Lorene.

Later that evening we were joined by another friend Jan, what two Jans? Ha! We hiked up Red Mountain.

We were treated to views like this.

What a fun hike. So great getting to hang with new friends.

Later that evening, we took a short jaunt to the river where the group was catfishing. Would this spooky full moon result in good fishing? YES!

We stayed in the park campground where I said good morning as the moon said goodbye for another day.

Temperatures can be unpleasantly hot as this is the Sonoran Desert. In fact the park brochure indicates huge swings in temperatures from 20F in the winter to 120F in the summer. Since I was still in winter mode, anything above 70 seemed hot. Thus we got an early start. I’d provide a photo of the lake . . . but it’s dried up.

The hike though is mostly on ridges, definitely my preference.

Thank you Petra for being an amazing host and adventure partner.

This shows what I believe are the maintained hiking trails but there are many roads and others to be explored. 

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 20-21, 2019


  • This park seems to be under visited in part due to it’s remoteness. Be prepared to drive 18 dirt miles, rough but okay for most any car. Call or visit the web site to check on current road conditions.
  • Plan to stay in the park campground although there is nearby public land available for dispersed camping. A benefit to staying in the campground is showers as well as much more walkable access to trails and the river.
  • The best time to visit is mid-October through mid-April.



Photo Credit: Lorene

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