Cibola Wildlife Refuge

Camping alongside the wetlands of the Colorado River listening to the birds.

We’re camping at Palo Verde County Park which is nestled between Hwy 78 and the Colorado River a couple of miles from the Cibola Wildlife Refuge.  It looked like there was no charge for camping - no host, no posted fee, no iron ranger box; but just before we left (after a week), a ranger pulled in and quoted us the rate ($10 night!). Luckily, he only charged us for about 3 nights - a lot more reasonable.  There’s a boat ramp, bathrooms, a dumpster and access points to the river.  Sat in the sun by my trailer watching the birds (White Herons, Great Blue Herons, Scoots, Grebes, Northern Pintails) and listening to a bunch more we couldn’t see (finally Julie spotted the 2 Great Horned Owls that roost in the trees near us).  Occasionally, small fishing boats would troll or float by.  All in all a very pleasant stay.

The view from my campsite

Just South of the county park we stayed is Palo Verde Oxbow Park at the turn onto Baseline Road which leads to the refuge.  Oxbow Park is a good size BLM run campground ($15 night/$7.50 with the Senior Pass). We found more boon-docking on the way to the refuge; a large sandy area just after and to the right after crossing a one way bridge on Baseline Road; and also across a cattle guard opposite the refuge visitor center.

Cibola Wildlife Refuge

Even though we were visiting a bit after peak season, we saw a lot of birds on the Auto Tour - a 3 mile loop passing a pond, going through alfalfa fields that are flooded during the winter for the birds, and past many constructed burrows for the Burrowing Owl population.  There is also a 1/2 mile walking tour through the desert but we were advised that a bobcat has been seen there and not to take Scruffy unless we carried hiking sticks – we decided to do the walk another day, maybe without the dog.
While there weren’t a ton of birds at the ‘loafing pond’, being a beginning birder, I sure saw a lot of different birds to add to my list.

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This was one of the smaller constructions – maybe a studio apartment; some were more like large condominiums with lots of pipe for burrows and many crossed sticks for perches.


  1. I am very interested in the burrowing owls condominiums, since birding is in my life . Where is this place...I didn't understand the it in AZ, CA, NV?

    1. Ha ha, (it looks so clear when I'm looking at the map!). Cibola is accessed on the California side of the Colorado river; it's maybe 100 miles north of yuma (ca or az depending on which side of town you're on). Yuma is way south on the Mexican border.
      The burrowing owls are cool!

    2. Imperial wildlife refuge is also quite near Cibola - and also straddles the Colorado river. A refuge volunteer, Judith bell works there and blogs - great bird pictures. I think her blog is 'travels with Emma'. There should be a link on my list of blogs

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