Boondocking Site Review – KOFA National Wildlife Refuge, AZ
A huge and very remote refuge along Hwy 95 between Quartzsite and Yuma in western AZ.
Location: KOFA National Wildlife Refuge. Link to official website HERE.
Coordinates: Multiple entries to boondocking here since the refuge stretches approx. 55 miles along Hwy 95. Southern end of refuge approx. 33.016001, -114.231399, northern end of refuge approx. 33.536428, -114.162434. Link to map HERE.
Cost: FREE. 14-day stay limit per YEAR (any 12-month period) within the limits of KOFA.
How We Found It: We heard about this spot from other bloggers (Bayfield Bunch have stayed here multiple times) and also found it on Campendium and freecampsites.net.
Nearest Dump/Water: NO facilities at all (no trash/water or dump) onsite. Nearest dump & water at northern boundary is in Quartzsite, AZ. Going south nearest dump/water will be in Yuma, AZ.
- Access – 4/5
Very decent access here, although (as usual) more remote campsites take more effort to get to:
Getting There -> Boondocking is allowed within the entire KOFA refuge. Access is from multiple dirt roads going from Hwy 95 into KOFA (Palm Canyon, King Road, Castle Dome, Blevens, Crystal Hill Road etc.). Most RVers chose either Palm Canyon or King near the middle. These roads are graded and wide, somewhat washboarded but otherwise easy to drive for any-sized rig. The roads are flat and easy towards Hwy 95, but get more bumpy and rough as you approach the mountains so big rigs are best off staying on the middle, flatter area. Smaller, nimbler rigs (especially those with high clearance and 4WD) can get more remote and explore the many, many rough dirt roads within the refuge itself. If staying in the southern part of the refuge (e.g. along Castle Dome Mine Road), be aware that the section of road between Hwy 95 and KOFA is military property (Yuma proving grounds) and does not allow camping (the signs will be obvious). In the middle and northern part of the refuge the area between Hwy 95 and KOFA is BLM and is open for camping.
Campsites -> Campsites are in obvious cleared-off areas off the main road. Many are very close to the main dirt road, but a few are off-road and further back. Regular road grading means there is typically a sharp berm or “bump” going from the main road to the camping areas so low-clearance big rigs need to watch for this before choosing a spot. Hundreds of extremely remote campsites within the refuge itself along rough 4WD dirt roads, but these require high clearance to access. No camping within 1/4 mile access of water sources (e.g. wildlife water tanks).
- Nature – 5/5
This is simply a fabulous spot. Lots of remote desert views here with the beautiful red/orange KOFA mountains as back-drop. NOTHING here but nature so there is really nothing to disturb your view.
- Isolation – 4/5
Very good to great isolation here depending on where you park. KOFA is a low visitation park so you won’t get many folks driving through, plus there is PLENTY of space so you have a very, very good chance of finding a campsite entirely to yourself. Big rigs will need to stay closer to the main roads and so will have more chance of company, but high-clearance campers (e.g. truck campers) can get very remote and are pretty much guaranteed to be alone. KOFA does also attract 4WD (jeepers) on occasion and the road gets dusty when they drive past at high speeds, but it’s not big traffic. Camping slightly back from the road will get you more privacy.
- Pet Friendliness – 5/5
Excellent spot for doggie. Lots of space in camp and easy, surroundings to walk. There is some cactus around, and in some spots lots of cholla (especially towards the mountains) so be aware of this when you are choosing a spot to camp.
Overall Rating = 4.5
BONUS ALERT = Camp in quiet and isolation within view of the beautiful KOFA mountains!
Summary: This is a very remote, very quiet place to boondock. KOFA is HUGE (665,400 acres) and has miles and miles of dirt roads within it’s boundaries. Dispersed camping is allowed anywhere within the refuge on previously used sites for a max.limit of 14 days per YEAR. There are several roads leading into the refuge along a ~55-mile stretch of Hwy 95 all of which allow camping, but most RVers chose either Palm Canyon or King Road. The roads leading into the refuge are flat and graded, somewhat washboarded at the beginning, but become bumpier and rougher as you get closer to the mountains. Big rigs are better-off staying in the flatter in-between area, while smaller and nimbler vehicles can get further back into the refuge and really remote if they wish. Be aware that many roads within the refuge itself are very rough and require 4WD high clearance to access. Also in southern part of the refuge (along Castle Dome Mine Road) the area between Hwy95 and KOFA is military and does not allow camping, but in middle and northern part of the refuge (e.g. along King, Palm Canyon and Crystal Hill Roads) the area between Hwy 95 and KOFA is BLM and does allow camping. NO nearby facilities at all (no water/dump/trash/grocery etc.) so come stocked-up and prepared for the entire time you plan to be here. However lots of nature-stuff to do here including biking, relaxing, hiking and 4WD. Plus there is a most excellent ghost town along Castle Dome Mine Road. We stayed very close to the entrance to the refuge (near the BLM/KOFA boundary) and found a large, flat campsite with no near neighbors. We came here to get away from it all and this spot fit the bill perfectly. An incredibly quiet and perfectly remote boondocking spot. We’ll definitely be back.
Extra Info: Good Verizon signal (3 bars LTE) and ATT (3 bars 4G) . NO other facilities (no water, dump or trash). Nearest dump is either at Quartzsite (in north) or Yuma (in south).SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Mary Hone says
We left Why and came back to the KOFA yesterday. People were parking on top of us there, and we hate that. We knew we could get away from it all by coming here again. Should have just come here to begin with. Live and learn.
It’s a shame the Why BLM site doesn’t have a camphost anymore. It seems the place has gotten over-run this year, at least that’s what from what I’m hearing from blog readers. Enjoy your peace and quiet at KOFA!
Barbara-Me and My Dog ...and My RV says
I love the mountains there – so craggy and beautiful. A great backdrop to campsites. Thanks for the review – I haven’t visited there yet, but maybe next year. 🙂
The mountains are particularly “wild” here. Definitely a special place.
Dan Bickham says
Love reading your post. We are going to try boondocking next year. Looking forward to it. We did the west last year for 7months and even though we stayed at RV parks, we loved it. Definitely going back. Long trip from Northern Virginia, but a must to return.
Your reviews are so helpful. Was your spot off of Palm Cayon Road, or Blevens? Night sky must have been beautiful.
Really enjoyed my camps on Palm Canyon and King Valley. Like you said remote, all by myself with terrific views and great hiking.
Were you able to get cell service?
Oof sorry, just saw your “extra info”… DOH!!!
Yup, good cell service both ATT and Verizon 🙂
Do you typically unhook the toad before bringing the Beast into a boondocking site or is that decision a judgement thing? From your KOFA ‘Spacious Site’ pic it appears you were quite close to a graded road and that the berm was knocked down a bit for access. Was that common along the larger KOFA graded roads? You say the dust was not a problem?
Typically awesome review Nina, thanks!
Yes we always unhook and scout ahead for a site before bringing in “the beast”. She’s just too big and heavy to risk getting stuck so this is something we always do. I wrote about this recently:
And yes the berm was knocked down for most of the entry sites at KOFA along the main road. A few areas had a higher/steeper berm which is why I pointed it out in the review. That’s something lower-riding rigs need to watch for before they pick a site.
Dust was not too bad. Only when jeepers were tearing through, which was maybe once or twice a day while we were there. We were slightly back from the road.
Jodee Gravel says
Love it. Your reviews are always so helpful. Thanks!!
Barb&Dave Dove says
We were just catching up with your posts and saw our Aliner camper on King Valley Road. We remember seeing your beast. We spent 2 weeks near you on BLM land and then moved two miles up the road into the KOFA refuge for two weeks. Different agency so we hope that was legal. This is one of the best sites we have been on. This is the tenth month of full-timing for us. We are from Michigan and have fell in love with the desert and full-timing.
Thank you for all the great camp reviews, it has been a big help.
This is the first time we have commented If you ever see our Aliner again feel free to say hi. Safe travels, B&D
I totally remember your cute A-frame out there. You guys had a sweet spot! Always fun to hear from folks who’s paths we’ve crossed. Glad you enjoyed the area!
P.S. And yes, I think your camping program was legit. BLM and KOFA are 2 completely separate agencies, do 14 days in each is totally fine despite being so close together 🙂
Jim at Growing Faith says
Thank you for posting this review. It is helpful!
Nina, I just found your site today and I am enjoying reading all of the great information you have regarding fulltime RVing and boon docking. My husband and I are retiring in a few months and are planning a trip to the West from PA in June of 2016. I noticed in one of your articles you stayed at a BLM site in southern Utah. Would you be willing to share that BLM area? We are planning a trip from PA out to Yellowstone National Park and down through Utah to see the Salt Flats and Bryce Canyon and on to Northern Arizona to see Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and the Grand Canyon.
Thank you for posting all of this great information, I am hoping to journal our travels! Fantastic Site!
Sure. Everywhere we stay is on the blog. Here are all our Utah spots:
The Traveler says
Thanks for the blog.
It’s nice to see that so many other folks enjoy the beauty of the Sonoran Desert at Kofa NWR. We’ve been around the refuge, off and on, since 2008 and hope that it stays this beautiful for our grandkids and theirs too. As has been noted, it’s a pack it in – pack it out place. Leave No Trace. And, be sure to stop at the entrance kiosk for a look at the interpretive panels as well as to pick up a brochure – loaded with interesting and helpful information as well as a few easy to follow rules.