Trip Announcements

Lower CO River – Feb. 14 to 18, 2023

Lower CO river multi-day camp & kayaking adventures to Picacho SRA, CA & Squaw Lake, CA. Contact: Norma Miller – [email protected]    

We plan to caravan to Picacho SRA, CA from Tucson on Feb. 14 early (08:00) starting from the park n ride off of I-10 & Cortaro Rd. (next to the McDonalds) on south side of I-10. The 25-mi. Picacho Rd., starts from Winterhaven, CA off I-8W, ( exit 172) & goes north. It’s paved for 6 mi. then turns to dirt, gravel, etc., so high clearance is recommended. If we all caravan together, then we’ll be able to help each other thru the road all way up. The entire county road had been recently graded in Nov. 2022, so would be navigated well with most SUVs/trucks, etc. Also towing trailers in good working order. This will be a 5-day affair that is fully optional for number of days people want to stay at either planned locations/destinations. See Google Map Link

Picacho SRA campground fees are now $20-30 nightly. It’s CA State, and offer a $2 discount for seniors. Campground sites can be shared by two or more parties ea., I.e. two to three cars. It can host tents for up to 8 party members. The grounds are large, plenty of room between sites, dirt/gravel grounds, fire rings, camp tables, some with ramadas. Well maintained compost toilets & a double solar shower. Here is the Web link for the Picacho SRA Brochure with all info & maps.

There are a number of dirt/gravel/sandy somewhat graded roads that lead farther out to other outlying camps along the river and out into more remote locations, along washes, hills, etc. So, one can do some MTB if possible to see the back country & old historic mining sites, or just plan hiking excursions. A few of the roads can be classified as 4WD only. Plenty of interesting desert landscapes, washes & colorful hills around to investigate. See the brochure link above.

We plan to camp and paddle the areas near the main campground, several backwaters are possible along the route up and down river. It’s all flat water navigation. The current is normally between 3-4 mph. Wind may be a factor while returning back up river, otherwise most easily paddled when not too windy. We’ll plan to return back south along Picacho Rd. Then East toward the Senator lake Wash & the Squaw Lake TK Jones BLM Campground after spending 3 days, 2 nights at Picacho. This MAP Link will show the route to drive there from near Winterhaven turning east to follow CR 24 up to Imperial Dam Rd. It will be signed.

The T K Jones (BLM) Campground at Squaw Lake is $10 nightly & also honors geezer pass. The best camp spots are along the river shore at the mouth of the lake. One must park vehicles in the designated spots near the main camps farther up, but there are caddy carts available to haul your gear down. Fire rings and tables but no ramadas, perhaps more up at the main sites near where the RVs camp. All campgrounds are FCFS, so no reservations taken. There will also be the option to paddle the overnight run from Picacho SRA to Squaw Lake which covers about 18 river miles. See the River Map 1 link, & the River Map 2 link. We’ll be providing a shuttle bunny, (my hubby) Ron, who has volunteered. There are plenty sites to see on the paddle down river (old historic miners cabin, historic stamp mill, backwaters, etc. Halfway down on CA side is Ferguson Lake where there is wild camping along the slopes on the lake. About 1/2 mi. south on the AZ side is Martinez Lake (no camping) & another 1/2 mi. below that is Fishers Landing & Resort for RVers, etc. See River Map 3 link. There are all facilities there at the big boat ramp & a cafe that serves breakfast/lunch. Good place to stop after leaving the overnight camp at Ferguson lake. Then, it’s about another 8 mi. to Squaw lake. If you pass the entrance, you’ll soon be heading toward Imperial Dam. No problem there, the lake is easily seen paddling back up. See River Map 4 link.

Camping at Squaw lake for a couple nights give paddlers an op to explore the 4-mi. backwater way that parrales the river just north of the lake entrance on the CA side. There’s another on the AZ side, but farther down toward the dam. Other opportunities for hiking, paddling & exploring the area around Senator Wash exist by auto or bike. Other options, after leaving Squaw Lake, are to stop along the Gateway & Riverside Parks in the Yuma area, visit the old Historic AZ Territorial Prison & the Prison Hill Brewery & Eatery nearby. Folks can choose to follow their own time lines and drive out whenever the choose.

Baja trip for whale watching, visiting cave paintings, and hot springs — March 15-27, 2023
Please contact John Maier at [email protected] ASAP if interested in this trip. We need to reserve a private site at Guadalupe Hot Springs well in advance and make a nonrefundable payment to hold our spot. So at the very latest please confirm by the end of February which is when I plan to make reservations. You will need to pay for Guadalupe Canyon before I will make a reservation for you, otherwise you’ll need to do that on your own. You can check out all these areas on the internet if that helps with deciding. You will need a valid passport and drivers will need Mexican car insurance. Transportation costs shall be shared by all participants. If perchance you are only interested in part of this trip, you could arrange to meet-up at some location or to leave early, however, the burden of making the connection will be on you.                                                      The primary focus of this trip will be the whale watching at Laguna San Ignacio and cave paintings in the Sierra de San Francisco. These are a 2-day drive from Tucson and are halfway down the Baja peninsula. We will use the village of San Ignacio for our home base. It is a beautiful oasis in the desert with lots of water, palm trees, and good camping. The gray whales come down from Alaska every year to mate and give birth and can be seen from January to early April. It costs $55 to go out in a panga with a licensed guide at last report, plus a minimal amount for camping. I have had touching encounters on 50% of these trips and close encounters on all of them. Earlier in the season there is more mating activity but once the males leave at the end of February touching encounters are more likely. After that we will head into the mountain range north of San Ignacio. A registered guide from the ranching community will lead us. We’ll go on a 3-day backpack into the canyon where these remarkable prehistoric cave (actually cliff) paintings are located. It takes slightly over half a day to drop into the canyon which is 2000 feet below the rim. That’s the easy part for most and you will camp down there for 2 nights. You still need to hike to the cave paintings off trail in a rugged rocky canyon which is done the second day. The final day is climbing back out. Needless to say, you should be in good condition for this trip. The saving grace is that you can hire a burro to carry your camping gear! This generally will only cost you ~ $60 each for the whole trip if we have a good sized group but plan on $75. You will want a high clearance vehicle for the climb into the sierra as well as the washboardy road out to the lagoon for the whales. We’d also like to visit a couple hot springs on this trip, the northernmost one is located in Guadalupe Canyon within 50 miles of Mexicali. It is rather pricey but very nice looking, better than the last time I visited in the 90’s. Upcanyon from the hot springs is a remarkable hike with numerous crystal clear cold pools. They require a minimum 2 night stay and you can expect to pay $25-30 per person per night. I guess that makes it a better deal than the whale watching which only lasts a couple hours. No cabins, just bring your camping gear, same as we’ll be using everywhere else. On the return trip we will stop at a different hot springs in the village of Puertecitos right on the sea of Cortez. This one costs $15/vehicle or $30 with camping. We’ll probably try the camping option this time. 
Estero Tastiota — April 4-8, 2023
This estuary is located on the Sonoran coastline half-way between Kino Bay and San Carlos. We will drive from Tucson to El Colorado, a small fishing village southwest of Hermosillo. On the second day we will paddle north about 6 miles to the estuary and camp at its mouth on sandy beaches, arriving in time for lunch. We will camp there 3 nights, exploring the estuary as we wish though somewhat constrained by tides and wind. On the last day we will paddle back and drive home. The highlight of this trip are the myriad species of waterfowl as well as the large numbers of each. Egrets, herons, spoonbills, terns, gulls, skimmers, pelicans, vultures, etc, are always in evidence. This is an intermediate skill level trip. We will plan to stop in Hermosillo for a late lunch on the drive down. You will need a valid passport. Drivers need car insurance; transportation costs split among participants. Please contact John Maier at [email protected] if interested.
Sonoran Coastal Paddle — May 13-20, 2023
This is a rescheduled trip at a time which is warmer and has longer daylight hours. We will paddle from El Colorado to San Carlos after first setting up a car shuttle. This is under 40 miles in distance so we will have time to explore many coves along the way as well as a few sea caves. Or we may consider a lay-over day at some location which will be decided by those who take part. One highlight will be to revisit Julio Villa, a site that used to be our favorite Thanksgiving vacation beach camp until vehicular access was blocked due to development in an adjacent canyon. But kayaks are welcome at this wonderful cove. You will need a valid passport. Drivers need insurance; transportation costs and shuttle split between participants. Please contact John Maier at [email protected] if interested.