The Havasu Wilderness lies within the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge which stretches along the Colorado River for 30 miles between Needles, California and Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Approximately one-third of the refuge—all of it in Arizona—is Wilderness. California later got into the act, adding almost everything north of Blankenship Bend on the Colorado River. This area shares its western border with the large Chemehuevi Mountains Wilderness.
The Wilderness is rich in wildlife including quail, geese, ducks, grebes, cranes, rails, herons, egrets, falcons, eagles, bighorn sheep, coyotes, porcupines, foxes, and bobcats. Here you may see the endangered desert tortoise and the poisonous Gila monster.
Exemplary desert hiking through creosote, ocotillo, blue-green paloverde, and pockets of saguaro promises solitude.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Havasu Wilderness.
South of Interstate-40, along the east and west sides of the Colorado River, in California and Arizona. For specific access information to the Refuge's Wilderness, please contact the Refuge office.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
California Desert Protection Act of 1994 - Public Law 103-433 (10/31/1994) "California Desert Protection Act of 1994" An Act to designate certain lands in the California Desert as wilderness, to establish the Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks, to establish the Mojave National Preserve, and for other purposes.
The Havasu Wilderness offers opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation, and is a popular hiking destination. Camping and open fires are not permitted. For more information on recreational opportunities in the Havasu Wilderness, please contact the Refuge office.
Climate and Special Equipment Needs
The best time to visit Havasu Wilderness is during the cooler months: October through March. Temperatures then are conducive to outdoor activities. Nights can get chilly, so prepare accordingly. Daytime highs are typically in the 60s and 70s; nighttime lows are usually above 40°. Rain showers are not uncommon during December - February but tend to be of short duration and low intensity. Even in the winter, visitors should bring lots of water.
Simply put, summers at Havasu Wilderness are hot. June through September see average daytime temperatures of 115 degrees Fahrenheit. For those adventurous few who may opt for a visit during the summer, be sure to prepare for the dangerously high temperatures. Copious amounts of water are needed, even when not engaged in any physical activity (usually 1 gallon per day). Hats, sunglasses, long-sleeves, and loose-fitting clothing are highly recommended along with ample sunscreen.
Safety and Current Conditions
Safety is paramount in a desert environment. Plan your trip well in advance and come prepared for the time of year you will be visiting. It is also suggested to you notify your family members/friends of your arrival and departure information and who to contact in case of emergency. Bring lots of water, even in winter.
Want to Volunteer for Wilderness?
Citizens who volunteer their time to steward our wilderness areas are an essential part of wilderness management. Contact the following groups to inquire about volunteer opportunities.