Palm Canyon – Kofa National Wildlife Refuge – Arizona – December 2017

Wednesday December 20 – Today’s temperature: 39/72. Clear and breezy

Plans are made to go early to Palm Canyon in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, about 15 miles from where we are camped. We (Clifford, Rollie, Bill, Sally, and I) head out in a couple of vehicles, driving about seven miles south on 95 to the turnoff, a dirt road that takes us several scenic miles across the Kofa Refuge to the parking area at Palm Canyon.

Scenic views as we drive into the Kofa Mountains
View of the Chocolate Mountains to the south from the Palm Canyon parking area
Closer view of the mountains to the south

Now the problem with leaving early is that it is cool in the morning and the mostly south-facing canyon is still deep in shadows.

Canyon in shadows

The wind is chilly, but we are all eager for the hike and head up the trail.

Eager for the trail: Sally, Rollie, Bill, and Clifford

The canyon is lush with desert plants, the trail a bit rugged, but not difficult.

Rugged terrain of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

At the end of the trail is a viewing spot and a sign. We look across the canyon to the deep ravines on the opposite side to see the palms growing there.

Ravine across the canyon where the palms grow
Close-up of the nook where the palms have taken foothold

These California Fan Palms are possibly the only native palms in Arizona in a natural location. They may be remnants of an earlier cooler climate or perhaps seeds were carried to the deep ravines by wildlife. Either way, these palms flourish in the coolness of the shadows where the ravine collects moisture from scant rainfall. It is possible to go beyond the trail and make one’s way across the canyon and up to the palms, but we are not doing that today.

Looking deeper into the canyon

After taking photos, we head back down the trail.

Because of the chilly wind, we decide to take our picnic back to camp. Bill has made a great ham and chopped egg sandwich mix for us, which we enjoy around a little campfire, protected from the breeze of the day.

Sunset from the campsite at La Paz Valley