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Wildlife Observation & Photography

Bighorn_512x219The following locations are popular with refuge visitors looking for places to observe and/or photograph wildlife and their habitats.

Pintail Slough
This is an excellent area to view many species of birds that utilize the wetland habitat. Visitors might catch a glimpse of a coyote following a refuge road or a jackrabbit darting into the bushes. Extremely lucky guests may spot a bobcat walking along the edge of a field. Starting a wildlife watching trip early in the morning or in the evening hours will increase your chances of viewing the variety of wildlife at Pintail Slough.

Pintail Slough is an extensively managed area at the northern end of Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. It consists of eight moist soil units, four agricultural fields and several riparian areas with cottonwoods and mesquite trees. Refuge staff manages water levels and vegetation within the moist soil units to provide ample habitat for migrating birds winging over the desert landscape. The agricultural fields are planted with an assortment of vegetation to provide food for quail and doves. Although there is no access by vehicle or amenities, guests can walk over eight miles of quiet roads surrounding the moist soil units and the fields.

The Pintail Slough hunt unit is open only to permitted hunters on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, from one and a half hours before sunrise to 1pm MST during the Arizona waterfowl season, including the Youth Hunt. Other refuge visitors are not allowed in the unit during the hunt for safety reasons.

Topock Marsh
The 4,000-acre Topock Marsh is a spectacular place to view wildlife and enjoy Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors can access it via four entrances: North Dike, Five Mile Landing, Catfish Paradise, and South Dike. There is no access to the Lower Colorado River through Topock Marsh.

North Dike
The view from North Dike offers glimpses of a wide variety of active wildlife, including foraging white-faced Ibis, ospreys hunting overhead, swooping cliff swallows, swimming beaver and resting rattlesnakes. Although there are no facilities, visitors to North Dike can park in the lot and walk down the access road along the northern end of Topock Marsh. If guests arrive early enough, a rousing chorus of red-winged blackbirds will bring the quiet morning hours to life. Binoculars or a spotting scope and a camera are recommended equipment.
 
Five Mile Landing
This is another access point that is south of North Dike. Depending on the time of year, there are many species that rely on Topock Marsh and are visible from this entrance, such as pied-billed grebes, American coots, American pelicans, and double-crested cormorants. A short path will lead visitors down a dike to get a better view of the marsh.

Catfish Paradise
Catfish Paradise is south of Five Mile Landing and has public restrooms, accessible picnic areas and an accessible floating dock. Visitors can view an extensive area of Topock Marsh from the dock. Double-crested cormorants perch in the snags protruding from the water. Guests may see a great horned owl or hear common yellowthroats singing from the surrounding vegetation.

South Dike Road
South Dike Road is only accessible by foot. Visitors can park at the gate and walk down the road that follows the west side of Topock Marsh. Sparrows, doves, warblers, and swallows will keep guests company as they walk.

Beal Lake
The 250-acre lake has a public viewing platform that is accessible through the Levee Road on the eastern side of the refuge. From the top of the platform, guests can view the lake that is maintained by a channel connected to Topock Marsh and percolating groundwater. Two endangered fish species, the razorback sucker and bonytail chub, utilize this backwater habitat. Elegant great blue herons and great egrets can be seen foraging for food along the water’s edge. Many species of waterfowl including northern pintail and cinnamon teal can be spotted bobbing on the water’s surface. Elusive Yuma clapper rails and sora can be heard calling over Beal Lake. Visitors are encouraged to bring binoculars or a spotting scope as there are no trails allowing for closer wildlife observation.

Bermuda Pasture
Guests will overlook a large grass field at the Bermuda Pasture public viewing platform, which is located on the western side of the refuge off of Levee Road. Guests can park in the lot and walk up the accessible viewing platform. From this vantage point, thousands of snow geese can be seen during the winter months. Coyotes and bobcat hunt at the edge of the field year-round. Flycatchers and phoebes can be heard in surrounding area. Visitors can spot woodpeckers moving from tree to tree in surrounding trees or walk down the road and peer into an irrigation canal for fish.
 
Havasu Wilderness Area
Visitors to the Havasu Wilderness Area are treated to a beautiful landscape unaltered by development with the exception of a few historic gold mines. A hike into the wilderness may be rewarded with sightings of bighorn sheep and the descending trill of a canyon wren. The solitude and the complex landscape will captivate any hiker. Bring plenty of water, a map, or a GPS as there are no maintained trails or roads within the wilderness area. There are no amenities, camping, or vehicles allowed and cellular phone signal is limited. The Wilderness Area is accessible at several entrances along Arizona 95, by entering through BLM public land, or by river through Topock Gorge.

Topock Gorge
Topock Gorge is the longest stretch of the natural remaining river on the Lower Colorado and is only accessible by river. Steep, rocky cliffs border the river on both sides creating a spectacular attraction. Guest can see a variety of species from striped bass to grebes to bighorn sheep within this beautiful area. Some areas of the gorge are culturally significant and historic Native American petroglyphys are clearly visible from the river. Topock Gorge is a heavily populated boating area and guests wishing to view wildlife from the river are encouraged to begin in the early morning hours.

Castle Rock
Castle Rock contains a 0.2 mile loop around a distinctive rock feature. Part of the trail opens to a beach on Lake Havasu. From that viewpoint, visitors may see American coots, redheads, and western and Clark’s grebes, among other species.

Mesquite Bay
Mesquite Bay North and South are two public use areas located within the Lake Havasu City limits. Both places contain short walking trails of less than a quarter of a mile with shaded structures and benches. Mesquite Bay North also has public restrooms. The trails will lead visitors down to floating docks where they may see a variety of waterfowl, grebes, and swallows. Common yellowthroat and Abert’s towhee songs will keep you company on the trip to the water’s edge.
Last Updated: Oct 19, 2012
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