U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
National Wildlife Refuge
|Getting There: From
Blythe, go approximately 3 miles west on I-10 to Neighbours Boulevard/78 exit.
Go south on Neighbours for 12 miles
to the Cibola Bridge.
After crossing the bridge, continue south
for 3.5 miles to headquarters.
When was it established? 1964
Cibola NWR is located in the floodplain of the lower Colorado River and surrounded by a fringe of desert ridges and washes. The refuge encompasses both the historic Colorado River channel as well as a channelized portion constructed in the late 1960's. Along with these main waterbodies, several important backwaters are home to many wildlife species that reside in this portion of the Sonoran Desert. Because of the rivers life sustaining water, wildlife here survive in an environment that reaches 120 degrees in the summer and receives an average of only 2 inches of rain per year. We invite you to visit and enjoy the many wildlife-oriented activities the refuge has to offer and enjoy the scenic beauty of this oasis in the desert.
Over 288 species of birds have been found on Cibola NWR, including many species of migratory songbirds, Gambels quail, roadrunners, mourning and white-winged doves, phainopepla, greater sandhill cranes, Canada and snow geese, Vermilion flycatchers, grosbeaks and many more. The bald eagle, southwestern willow flycatcher and Yuma clapper rail are among the endangered birds that use Cibola NWR. Other listed species include the desert tortoise, razorback sucker, bonytail chub, and desert pupfish.
It is not uncommon to see desert mule deer, bobcat, and coyotes on the refuge, particularly while driving the auto tour loop in the early morning or evening. Management of farm fields along with restoration of wetlands and moist soil units provide habitat for thousands of Canada geese that migrate to Cibola in the winter. About 85% of Arizonas wintering goose population resides on Cibola NWR.
A host of species reside on the refuge year-around. Many of the aquatic birds nest in the backwaters of the river. It is a common sight to see western and Clarks grebe young riding on their parents back in Cibola Lake during the spring. Other common sights may include a heron and egret rookery, nesting mourning and white-winged doves, barn owls, burrowing owls, kestrels, white-faced ibis and more.
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|Restoring Wildlife Homes
The refuge is working hard to restore native vegetation to the lower Colorado River in order to provide essential habitat to the many species of wildlife that depend upon it. The greenbelt of the Colorado River is an important migratory corridor for a host of birds and we want to insure that stopover habitat is available to those that are making their thousand mile journey through this area. In addition to removing exotic salt cedar trees and planting native vegetation such as cottonwoods, willows, and mesquites, the refuge is also restoring historic river meanders, constructing moist soil units, and growing alfalfa and cereal grains for the wintering waterfowl.
The refuge also provides artificial homes for wildlife such as the burrowing owl and kestrel. Both of these species readily accept man-made homes to roost and nest. You will see these as you drive around the auto tour loop.
Things to do at the Refuge
Cibola NWR offers a variety of recreational opportunities. Displays and interpretive information are available at the visitor center, which is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. From the visitor center, drive a short distance to the 3-mile auto tour loop (also known as Canada Goose Drive). This drive is open from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Along this drive, stop and take a short walk around the Nature Trail. The Nature Trail is a one-mile loop that will take the visitor through three different native habitats; cottonwood, mesquite, and willow. Half-way around the trail, the winter visitor will view thousands of Canada geese, snow geese, ducks and sandhill cranes in a 20-acre pond from an elevated observation deck designed to allow the wildlife to feed and loaf without being disturbed and allow the quiet visitor to experience these wildlife up close.
Visit the Cibola Lake overlook located at the southern end of the refuge and view grebes, ducks, pelicans, geese, cormorants, terns, and more from an elevated cliff overlooking the southern end of the lake. Cibola Lake is closed from Labor Day to March 15 in order to provide the wintering waterfowl a safe and undisturbed place to roost, but you can enjoy them from a distance on the overlook.
Please remember the following rules while visiting the refuge. Remember, we are guests in the homes of the wildlife.
Public hunting on Cibola NWR is permitted in specified areas. Hunting opportunities are available for the following species: Canada geese, snow geese, ducks, coots, gallinules, Gambels quail, mourning and white-winged doves, mule deer (bow, gun, muzzle loader), and cottontail rabbits. Hunting shall be conducted in accordance with all applicable state and Federal regulations along with the following special regulations. See the refuge Hunt Brochure for more information including areas open to hunting.
Farm Unit 2 offers controlled spaced-blind goose hunting opportunities. This hunt requires a permit and blinds are selected on a reservation system, however, a standby drawing will be held every hunt morning for any available blinds. Farm Unit 2 hunt hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. A minimum of 12 goose decoys is required. Blind selections are made at the check station promptly at 4:30 a.m. MST on hunt days. Hunters must have their paperwork completed and turned in prior to 4:30 a.m. Please see the refuge Farm Unit 2 hunting brochure for complete information on hunting Farm Unit 2.
Hunters may be selected for a maximum of three 2-day hunts, and may bring up to three companions to hunt with them. No one may hunt, either as a reservation permit holder or as a reservation companion, in more than three hunt periods during the season. A standby drawing will be held at 4:30 a.m., MST, each hunt morning to fill non-reserved blinds and reservation no-shows. Hunters may hunt as standby hunters as many times as they wish. All reservation permit holders will be guaranteed a blind, and blinds will be chosen on the morning of each hunt day, by the permit holder, in numerical order, starting with the lowest permit number first. Fourteen blinds are available.
The Island Unit has areas for waterfowl hunting as well as quail, dove, cottontail rabbit and mule deer hunting. The Island Unit is open for public access from 4:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. MST daily.
All Island Unit visitors must check in and check out at the kiosk at the Island Unit entrance.
The majority of Cibola NWR is located in Arizona, but some areas along the Old River Channel are located in California. Hunters are required to possess hunting licenses and stamps from the state in which they are hunting. Arizona hunting licenses may be purchased in Cibola or Ehrenberg, Arizona or on-line through the Arizona Game and Fish Departments website (www.azgfd.com). California hunting licenses may be purchased in Blythe, California. Migratory bird hunting requires both state and federal waterfowl stamps. Arizona hunters must also possess the Arizona Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp. Federal Waterfowl Stamps may be purchased at the refuge headquarters during business hours.
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Cibola NWR provides opportunities to fish for the following species:
Possession of the Colorado River fishing stamp allows licensed anglers of either California or Arizona to fish any open area on the refuge.
Cibola Lake and adjoining lands are closed to all activities from Labor Day to March 15 in order to provide a safe and undisturbed area for the wintering waterfowl. Fishing, however, is permitted in a boat on the main channel of the Colorado River and all land and water to the west.
Please see the refuge fishing brochure for complete information on fishing on Cibola NWR.
Help Protect the Refuge
To protect floating waterbird nests and minimize disturbance, all backwaters on the refuge are no-wake zones. These areas include Cibola Lake, Pretty Water, Three Fingers Lake, Hart Mine Marsh, and the Old River Channel. Only
Pets must be leashed while on the
refuge, except dogs used while hunting. Owners are
responsible for cleaning up after their animals.
Pets must be leashed while on the refuge, except dogs used while hunting. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their animals.Litter
We are looking for friendly, enthusiastic, hardworking volunteers to help with computer and clerical work, biological projects, environmental education, light and heavy field work, and construction projects. If you have the skills and desire, we can find a place for you. Contact Cibola NWR r2w_cifws.gov or 928/857-3253 for more information about volunteering.
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