Wildlife Watching and Nature Trails
What makes this refuge so amazing is that it harbors a river that is functioning as it should – wild and choosing its own path. It shifts on the landscape the way a river is meant to and the route it chooses is seldom obvious.
From its majestic rock cliffs and ribbon cool water running through the Sonoran Desert to the cattail-filled marsh, the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge offers a little bit of everything for both wildlife and people.
The refuge offers two foot trails for people looking for an opportunity to view wildlife and spend time outdoors.
In addition to these trails, visitors are welcome to explore the refuge on foot. Be sure to ask refuge staff for brochures that provide information on plants and animals, specifically the refuge’s amazing birdinghotspots.
Peninsula Trail (1/2 mile): This is one of two trails near the refuge’s headquarters. The first ¼ mile is paved and leads to a hand-cap accessible fishing dock and restroom facilities. The trail includes interpretive and educational panels that will teach you about the wildlife and habitat found on the refuge. Several park benches along the trail offer visitors an opportunity to sit, listen and enjoy. After the first ¼ mile, the trail is unpaved and goes for another 1/2 mile (unpaved). Here you can see great views of the Bill Williams River delta. This is also an excellent location for wildlife watching, especially birds. To add to your adventure, this trail is linked to the State of Arizona’s Oasis Desert Quest.
Delta Loop Trail (1/2 mile): This nature trail is not paved but it follows along the shoreline of the Bill Williams River delta and hills offering excellent views along the way. The trail begins at the first small shade Ramada on the paved trail and follows the lakeshore northeast leading passed a boat launch area used by canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts. Numbers on stones mark stations by the side of the path. Pick up the Nature Trails brochure for information on what those numbers represent. Remember to watching your footing. The loose desert soil makes it very easy to slip and fall.
Auto Tour Loop
This 3.5 mile auto tour route is off of Highway 95 on the refuge just north of the headquarters. Turn on Planet Ranch Road, which parallels the Bill Williams River and prepare for a rough ride (high-clearance 4x4 vehicles recommended) and exceptional views, including one of the last flood-regenerated forests found on the lower Colorado River. You can also hike the washed-out portion of the road for a close-up look at the river’s forest and the abundant wildlife community. Check with refuge staff for water and road conditions and remember to be careful and smart. Always carry plenty of water when hiking the refuge, even in the winter.
The Bill Williams River delta area, including much of the cattail marsh, can be viewed from several turnouts off Arizona Highway 95. Parking is available at the 3.5 mile marker on the old Planet Ranch road.
Hunting for dove (mourning, white-winged), Gambel’s quail and cottontail rabbit is offered on the refuge and permitted south of the Planet Ranch Road. Only shotguns are permitted for hunting dove, Gambel's quail, and cottontail rabbit on designated areas of the refuge. In the field, hunters using a shotgun shall possess and use only nontoxic shot. Hunting for cottontail rabbits is during the dates coinciding with quail season. For your safety and enjoyment, please be familiar with the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s regulations at www.azgfd.gov.
Fishing for striped, largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, bluegill and other fish is permitted on Lake Havasu. Lighted shoreline fishing facilities on the refuge are available for use 24 hours a day. Please use catch-and-release techniques with any native fish captured and report your catch to refuge personnel.
Boating is permitted only at No Wake Speed. Water skiing and personal watercraft are prohibited. For your safety and enjoyment, please be familiar with the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s regulations at www.azgfd.gov.
Refuge visitors can launch canoes and kayaks at the non-motorized boat ramp located at the refuge visitor center near the river delta. Take in the dramatic scenery and wildlife while enjoying a 2.5 mile paddle on the Bill Williams River.