Join a volunteer led hiking tour.

From November through March, Imperial National Wildlife Refuge often offers volunteer-led hikes and other events.  Please contact the Visitor Center for details on daytime hikes at the Painted Desert Trail, moonlight strolls, and other refuge activities. Sign ups and RSVP's are required for most events.


2017 - 2018

Basic Camera Workshop

Free at the Imperial NWR Visitor Center, from 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM. Ten people per session. Sign up is required, call 928/783-3371.

January 23

February 20


Star Gazing Event 

A Free night of stargazing at the Imperial NWR Visitor Center, from 6:30 PM to @ 8:30 PM. RSVP is required, call 928/783-3371.

January 26


Guided Birdwatching 

Free guided birding at the Mesquite Point Overlook, come enjoy the native birds and scenery of the Lower Colorado River. A skilled guide will have a scope for viewing and provide helpful identification tips. Great for all levels of interest and experience! Bring your binoculars, water, and extra layers. No pets please. Contact the Visitor Center for more information 928-783-3371.

8:00 AM to 10:00 AM

Wed, Dec. 20 

Wed, Jan. 10

Sun, Feb. 18

Wed, Mar. 14


Guided Hikes

Wildlife Boot Cruise hikes - 9:00 am MST

Group size is 8 to 16 people

Duration ~1–2.5 hours

After a brief orientation at the Visitor Center, hikers will caravan 3-5 miles, in their vehicles, to the trail heads. Sign up is required, call 928/783-3371.


December 7                       B Wash

December 19                     Christmas Overlook

December 28                      Bobcat Scat

January 4                           B Wash on Steroids

January 16                         B Wash

January 25                         Painted Desert Expanded

January 31                         Painted Desert Trail (Moonlight hike) - 4:45 pm MST

February 6                         B Wash on Steroids

February 15                       Christmas Overlook

February 27                       Painted Desert Expanded

March 1                             Painted Desert Trail (Moonlight hike) - 5:30 P.M. MST

March 8                             B Wash on Steroids

March 20                           Bobcat Scat


Trail Descriptions:

Painted Desert Trail

Easy. 1.25 mile loop on an improved trail, used for the moonlight hikes. Mostly flat with some stairs and minimal elevation change. It has a nice place to watch and photograph the moon rise.

The Moonlight Hike includes an easy, 1.25 mile hike on the Painted Desert trail by moonlight. The pace is leisurely, with stops along the way to enjoy the moonlight, take photos, and learn about nocturnal wildlife activity.

B Wash

Easy. 2.0 miles in varying size washes along hillside wildlife trails. Last half of hike involves elevation change of approximately 175’.

Christmas Overlook

Easy. 2.2 miles in washes that vary in size, coloration and character. Some hillside wildlife trails and hill crest hiking, resulting in approximately 200’ of elevation change, providing an overlook of Christmas Wash.

Painted Desert Expanded

Easy—Moderate. 2.5 miles beginning and ending at the Painted Desert Trail head, but using very little of the Painted Desert Trail. In washes and on hillside wildlife trails with approximately 200’ of elevation change. The middle third of this hike is very scenic.

B Wash on Steroids

Easy—Moderate. 3.5 miles in and out of washes and on hillside wildlife trails. Elevation change is approximately 225’. The trail begins by backtracking the B Wash hike, extends to more open landscape and returns to the B Wash trail. There are interesting variations to this route, depending on the interest of the hikers.

Bobcat Scat

Moderate Hike. 4.3 miles in various washes and on hillside wildlife trails with several elevation variations of approximately 250’. A few places of more challenging footing. Most varied terrain and scenery. This is a slightly more difficult hike by length, with more frequent elevation variation and a one longer uphill section. Bring your lunch!

Hikes vary in length from 1.25 to 4.5 miles and last from about 1 to 2.5 hours of hiking time depending on distance hiked and interest of hikers. Hikes occur in washes with loose sand, gravel, and rocks of various size and on hillside wildlife trails, with elevation changes up to approximately 250’. Note: only Painted Desert Trail is improved. Sturdy footwear is essential. Trek-king poles or walking sticks are encouraged. Bring your own water, snacks, hat, sun block and other sun protection. For moonlight hikes, be prepared for cold weather and the possibility of mosquitoes. No pets please. Desert hiking conditions can change, impacting trail and hiker safety. To provide for safety, comfort and enjoyment hike routes may change at the guide’s discretion. Hikes may be canceled for severe weather, in which case you will be notified as much in advance as possible. Every effort will be made to hike the route scheduled on a specific date.