U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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National Wildlife Refuge

The desert tortoise is one of the animals that has adapted to desert living.
Office - 317 Mesquite Avenue
Needles, California 92363, AZ   
E-mail: al_murray@fws.gov
Phone Number: 760-326-3853
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Desert Tortoise
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Havasu National Wildlife Refuge
From desert bighorn sheep to the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher, birds and other animals at Havasu National Wildlife Refuge rely on the life-giving waters of the lower Colorado River. The refuge protects 30 river miles - 300 miles of shoreline - from Needles, California, to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. One of the last remaining natural stretches of the lower Colorado River flows through the 20-mile-long Topock Gorge.

A great river in a dry, hot land attracts wildlife and people like a powerful magnet. Today, many thousands of visitors annually flock to the refuge to boat through the spectacular Topock Gorge, watch waterbirds in Topock Marsh, or hike to the Havasu Wilderness Area.

Wildlife dwell in a precarious balance with the people who recreate here. Remember, we are guests in the home of lower Colorado River animals and plants.

Getting There . . .
From Interstate 40, watch for a Havasu NWR exit sign close to the California/Arizona border. Follow the signs to the refuge.

To reach Topock Marsh from Needles, California, cross the Needles bridge into Arizona following Highway 95 north, then turn right onto Courtwright Road and watch for the refuge sign.

The refuge office is in Needles, California. From Interstate 40, exit on J Street and go southwest (uphill) 0.06 miles. Turn right at headquarters entrance sign and follow the signs; the office is in the back.

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

It is no wonder that rare birds find a haven here within the protected marshes and miles of Colorado River shoreline. Havasu NWR forms a important haven for wildlife in an increasingly populated part of the country.

Birdwatchers come to the refuge for some of the best birding on the entire lower Colorado. Four endangered bird species find a toehold here: the Yuma clapper rail, southwestern willow flycatcher, peregrine falcon, and southern bald eagle. See the Havasu NWR bird list for a list of species found on the refuge.

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Indian petroglyphs in Topock Gorge trace the stories of early peoples who lived along the lower Colorado River. A few old mines tell a more recent tale of nineteenth century gold prospectors hoping to strike it rich here.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
Behind the scenes at the refuge, managers are working hard to assure that the native plants and animals have good habitat in which to live. Here are just a few examples of the work at hand.

Salt cedar, a tree originally from Asia, aggresssively takes over disturbed areas along the Colorado River. Native cottonwood and willow trees cannot compete. The staff at Havasu NWR works to control salt cedar and reestablish our native forests, which are much more valuable for wildlife.

The 4,000-acre Topock Marsh depends on water from the Colorado River, as do metropolitan areas as far as 300 miles away. Managing water flows to assure the best levels for waterfowl and shorebirds takes constant monitoring and coordination.

At the northern end of Topock Marsh, you will find refuge croplands growing in the Pintail Slough Management Unit. Waterfowl feast on the wheat, millet, and natural plants during the winter months.