Havasu Wilderness

The Havasu Wilderness is located right on the border of Arizona and California, with most of the Wilderness in Arizona and a smaller portion in California. Just north of Havasu City and south of Needles, it now preserves over 17,000 acres of exceptionally-important land on 30 miles of the Colorado River. In a fairly unusual management setup, it is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service's Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. It includes one of the last remaining natural runs of the lower Colorado River as it flows through the 20-mile-long Topock Gorge, and also preserves a dune area.

Considered an "Important Bird Area" this location is on the Pacific Flyway, where you may find the endangered Yuma Rail and endangered  Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. Other water and non-water birds and wildlife that you can see include many types of ducks, cranes, egrets, grebes, herons, the threatened Bighorn Sheep, the endangered Desert Tortoise, Gila Monsters, Porcupines and many more. Endangered Razorback Sucker fish has been stocked here to aid in its survival.

Plants you might find here include Blue Paloverde, Saguaro, Creosote Bush and Ocotillo.


Blue Palo Verde

Mule Deer, Bighorn Sheep, and jackrabbits browse on the leaves.

Blue Paloverde in the desert

Saguaro Cactus

The Saguaro cactus is the largest cactus in the United States and enduring symbol of the southwest. It often uses Desert Ironwood as a nurse plant as protection from the sun and flash floods. At only six feet tall, it might be 70 years of age, and can live to be as much as 200 years old. Found only in the Sonoran Desert, it is an important food source for Sonoran Desert wildlife, including birds, javelina, coyotes, rodents and many others. Gila Woodpeckers and Gilded Flickers excavate holes in Saguaros for nests and once abandoned, provide nesting habitat for Elf Owls, House Finches, Purple Martins, Screech Owls, various species of sparrows and many others. Hawks build nests amongst the "arms" which may be used by other avian wildlife such as Great Horned Owls, Ravens and others. The fruit of this plant was a very important food source for the Papago and Pima indians who also used the ribs of dead plants as tools and for roofing. The fruit is still sourced today for jam and wine.

Saguaro Cactus in the desert

Creosote Bush

Many animals make their burrows underneath creosote bushes, including Merriam's Kangaroo Rat and the federally threatened Desert Tortoise. The leaves and tiny seeds of this species are an important food source for rabbits, woodrats, mice, lizards and birds. The USFS has estimated that Creosote Bush covers 35 - 46 million acres in the southwest. A massive clonal colony of this plant was discovered in Lucerne Valley, CA.  Through radiocarbon dating it was placed at 11,700 years old, thus one of the oldest living things on earth and dubbed King Clone.

Creosote Bush shrub in the desert
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