Palm Canyon – Arizona – March 2020

March 21st – I check the sky as soon as I get up and it looks like a good day for an outing. Clifford and I are camped at LaPosa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona, and we want to go to Palm Canyon before we leave the deserts of southern Arizona. I make a picnic and tea for the thermoses, and then we meet up with my brother Rollie and his lady friend, Tata, at their camp down the road. They are eager and ready to go when we arrive at their camp.

We head south on highway 95 to the Palm Canyon turn-off, and then we drive another seven miles into the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge to the Kofa Mountains, stopping for photos along the way. Desert marigold bushes, globe mallow bushes, and ocotillo in bloom bring much color to the desert.

Globe mallow in full bloom
Desert marigold with Kofa Mountains in the background
Desert marigold and globe mallow share a space
A prickly pear in bloom
Ocotillo just getting buds; our destination in the background

At the parking lot and trail head, we leave our vehicles and hike the trail up a deep canyon to the viewing point where the palms can be see high up in a side ravine, the last place in the state where California fan palm trees grow in their natural habitat. The half-mile hike is a little rugged, but not difficult, and very scenic with views looking back toward the Chocolate Mountains.

Clifford, Tata, Fifi, Rollie, and Ninja ready to hike
Clifford on the Palm Canyon Trail

After the hike, we set up a small table by our vehicles and have a picnic, sharing the food that we all brought. We return to camp, refreshed at having had a change of pace and a hike on this beautiful day.

Picnic after the hike
View across the basin

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