Rugged And Remote – KOFA National Wildlife Refuge, AZ
Sometimes you just need to get away from it all, and when you talk about the Arizona Desert there are literally millions of acres in which to do this. In a mere 665,400 acre corner of this vast cacti empire is a little-visited spot called the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge. This rather inconspicuous and frankly easily miss-able area (despite its enormous size), occupies a large part of the map along the Eastern side of Hwy 95 between Yuma and Quartzsite, AZ.
The most noticeable part of the refuge are its rather rugged mountains, almost needlepoint sharp protrusions with a gorgeous red/orange cast that I’ve not seen anywhere else except the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix. The place is so large it would take almost 5 hours just to drive around the whole thing, and that’s at top speed and ignoring the crazy, rugged roads (most of which require 4WD) that crisscross most of it’s surface.
There is NOTHING here, well….seemingly nothing…and it would appear to be a rather strange place to camp. At least at first glance.
The name KOFA comes from the former gold mine King Of Arizona that was active in the area from 1897 to 1910. Wildlife conservation was established in 1939 with the intent to protect the local bighorn sheep. Through good preservation practices and the establishment/development of multiple watering holes, the refuge now hosts 400-800 of the species within it’s boundaries along with Sonoran Pronghorn and many other interesting animals. It’s also home to native palms (in fact KOFA is the last significant area in AZ where palms are native) and the cherry ontop of all this…it has a superb ghost town.
I’d known about KOFA for years, having driven past it many times and read multiple excellent blog posts from Bayfield Bunch about the area. A few years ago we drove over to do the Palm Canyon hike, but we’d just never considered camping here. Until now.
It was the pitter-patter of fluttering hearts that made us finally decide to give it a try.
You see I’m a push-over for romance and one of our Valentine’s things is to find a really remote place where can just….well….be romantic. For my girly tastes, a rugged time in the boonies is exactly the kind of sentimental and sappy stuff I like. Last year we managed an excursion to the fabulously remote Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge where, despite a few hundred hunters, we were perfectly isolated. This year KOFA was humming our names and we finally decided to heed the call. We rolled into the area last Thursday and we’ve basically been bumming here ever since.
And this IS the perfect place to bum around.
If you’re looking for people, towns or shopping KOFA is totally the wrong place. This spot is so remote that there’s literally naught but you and nature for miles, and miles, and miles…well, you get the picture. If you’ve got a nimble 4WD you can drive crazy back-country roads and find a campsite so isolated even the Tethered Aerostat Surveillance Balloon that blobs just south of here won’t be able to see you. If you’re “beast-size” like us you may have to settle for a campsite closer to the entrance, but you’ll still have enough space to dance around nekkid and not worry about the neighbors. Quartzsite is at least 25 mins away (which means trash, dump and water is that far away too) so you’re on your own for the entirety of the time you chose to spend here.
I wouldn’t come here to pass the season, but darn it, it’s the perfect place for a lovers getaway.
The only break we’ve had from our isolation here has been a brief visit with friends at Mittry Lake. Through the blogger grapevine I’d heard that lighthouse nut buddy Suzanne was hanging with a mini-commune of both solo and partnered blogger greats including Me & My Dog, Travels With Kimbopolo, On The Road With Riley, Sassy On Da Road, Life’s Little Adventures and Jimbo’s Journey’s plus a bunch of other cool cats. Whoah!
This was a selection of folks, many of which I’ve always wanted to meet (but had somehow always missed) that I just had to see. Polly managed to hurt her leg that day so Paul stayed home while I made the hour drive for happy hour at the lake. It was an awesome meet-up and I wished I could have stayed longer to get to know everyone more intimately and explore the area, but I’m so glad I went. Thanks for inviting me down, gang and hope to see many of you again on the road!
That’s about it folks. Or rather, that’s almost it. I DID tease about a ghost town didn’t I? Given my love of all things wild west and ghostly that’ll just have to wait for it’s very own post. Coming next….