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Public Land and Recreation

Welcome to the Lower Colorado River Valley. The Bureau of Land Management, Yuma District Office, is responsible for managing public lands in the Yuma area. Traditionally, most recreational visitor use has been in the open desert where facilities are scarce. Here, the desert environment can be severe. BLM urges visitors to preserve and protect public lands for the future.

A wide variety of camping experiences are available on BLM public lands. A Long Term Visitors Area (LTVA) has been established near Imperial Dam where visitors can stay up to seven months between September 15 and April 15. Visitors who wish to stay in the LTVA must purchase a Long Term Visitors Area Permit for $50.00, or a short term permit for $10.00. The long-term permit is valid for the entire season while the short-term permit is valid for several consecutive days with the option to purchase an unlimited quantity of additional permits. Both permits are valid in all designated LTVAs. Additional LTVAs are located near Quartzsite, AZ, and along the Colorado River in California. Campers wishing to stay on the desert outside of an LTVA may camp in one location on undeveloped public land for up to 14 days in any 28 day period at no charge, unless otherwise posted. After 14 days, campers must move to a new site outside a 25 mile radius of their original campsite. *Rates subject to change.

1. Imperial Dam (LTVA)
BLM - Individual sites listed below:
Quail Hill - Gray water disposal station.
Beehive Mesa - No facilities.
Coyote Ridge - Gray water disposal station.
Cripple Creek - RV dump station.
Skunk Hollow - No facilities.
South Mesa Recreation Site - restrooms, RV dump station, water, outside showers, swimming, fishing, shade ramadas, & amphitheater.
Hurricane Ridge - No facilities.

2. Senator Wash Boat Ramp BLM
Managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Camping (No fee), vault toilets, swimming, fishing, and boat launching. The reservoir provides storage for irrigation, and may have rapidly rising/falling water levels.

3. Squaw Lake Recreation Site
See Senator Wash directions: Located on the Colorado River adjacent to Senator Wash Reservoir. BLM, restrooms, water, showers, gray water disposal station, swimming, fishing, boat launching, tent & RV overnight camping and picnicking. Camping fee is $8 per day.

4. Hidden Shores BLM
See directions to Imperial Dam. Bureau of Land Management Public resort concession. Overnight camping (tents and RV fees). Trailer hookups, groceries, cafe, laundry, showers, boat rentals, fuel, phone, RV dump station, boat launch. For more information, please call (928) 783-1448.

Laguna Dam - Bureau of Reclamation
Located 13 miles North of Yuma. Turn onto S-24 in California. Follow the signs, turn left under the RR tracks, through the Quechan Reservation and the town of Bard. Historically interesting as a first example in this country of the Indian or rockfill type of diversion dam. When completed in 1909, diverted water from the Colorado River for irrigation of about 109,000 acres of desert. Now serves to protect the toe of Imperial Dam and for partial regulation of river flows. This was the first dam on the Colorado River.

Laguna Dam South Recreation Site
Operated and managed by the Quechan Indian Tribe. Camping is available for 60 units, but must be self contained. Tent camping, dry camping, or full hookups, drinking water, trailer dumping station. Overnight camping fee. Weekly or monthly camping.

Senator Wash Reservoir - BLM
Located 20 miles North of Yuma, just above Laguna Dam. Turn left off of S-24 at the sign. A 470 acre reservoir, with a usable capacity of 12,250 acre feet of water. Water levels are managed by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Imperial Irrigation District, land based recreational use is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Imperial Dam - Bureau of Reclamation
Located 18 miles North of Yuma, above Laguna Dam. Continue on S-24, and after the second bridge, turn left off the paved road that leads to Hidden Shores. The dam is on the side of the road. Completed in 1938, the dam diverts water from the Colorado River into the All American Canal in Calif. and the Gila Gravity Main Canal in Arizona. A concrete slab and buttress type of structure with a floating overflow weir section 3,485 ft. long including the dike. Water level of the river is raised 23 feet at the dam.

All American Canal/Desalting Works Bureau of Reclamation & Imperial Irrigation
Located at Imperial Dam. Comprised of six settling basins, each 270 ft.wide and 770 ft.long, arranged in pairs, and provides for the removal of sediment from the water as it leaves the dam, thus preventing silt from entering and clogging the canals.

Imperial National Wildlife Refuge
Located 40 mi. Northeast of Yuma. Take Hwy. 95 North to Martinez Lake Road and follow the signs. Enjoy fishing, birdwatching, photography, open spaces, and hiking on the Painted Desert Trail. Visitor's Center is open Mon. thru Fri. 7:30 am - 4:00 pm. during the winter. Weekend hours vary. For information, call (928) 783-3371.

Mittry Lake
Cooperatively managed by BLM, Bureau of Reclamation and Arizona Game and Fish. Travel East on Highway 95 to Circle K (Avenue 7E) turn left, continue about five miles. 10 day camping, must be self-contained, no showers, restrooms, boat launching, fishing or hunting.

Betty's Kitchen Wildlife Interpretive Area
Betty's Kitchen is the site of a National Recreation Trail and Watchable Wildlife area. It is home to a number of species of wildlife and plants that can be found in a riparian environment. The presence of water makes this a unique and refreshing oasis in the desert. Betty's Kitchen is located seven mi. East of Yuma from Highway 95, turn North on Ave. 7E and follow the road until you pass Laguna Dam. Turn West on the second gravel road.

Martinez Lake
Water Wonderland of the Desert. Located 35 miles North of Yuma. Travel East on Highway 95 for about 22 miles, turn left onto Martinez Lake Road. Stay on the road for about 10 miles until the road forks. The right fork goes to Martinez Lake Marina: RVs, trailers, (no tents, there is an area for tent campers adjacent to Lake Martinez), showers, restrooms, fuel, boat rental, boat launching, storage, restaurant, lounge, groceries and telephones. For information, call (928) 783-9589.

The left fork goes to Fisher's Landing: Overnight camping, showers, restrooms, tents, RVs, trailers, bait, boat launching and storage, boat rentals, restaurant lounge, fuel and groceries.

Protect this unique desert-river environment. Obey the following regulations:
No wood collecting at the Imperial Dam LTVA. Dispose of trash and human waste in proper receptacles. Do not shoot firearms near recreation areas. Keep pets controlled. Operate off-highway vehicles (OHVs) away from camping areas. It is unlawful to destroy, deface, injure, or remove vegetation, natural features and government property.

For more information contact:
Bureau of Land Management 2555 Gila Ridge Road Yuma, Arizona 85365 (928) 317-3200