What was going to be our last stop in Arizona ended up being our second to last, but what a fun and heart-warming adventure we had… especially after encountering the wild burros who lived just across the river from the state park where we camped.
That river was the Colorado River, and while we stayed on the Arizona side, the wild burros were on the California side! These creatures are so sweet, and if you take the Parker Dam Road Back Country Byway (especially in late afternoon when they are grazing), you will be rewarded with seeing these gentle and wonderful animals. We fell in love with a jenny (female burro) and her foal.
Not too far upstream from where we camped is said Parker Dam, built in the 1930s — and about 155 miles downstream from Hoover Dam (which we will also be visiting). Lake Havasu, the reservoir behind the dam, is about 45 miles long and can store up more than 200 billion gallons of water. Strangely, the London Bridge (which at one time spanned the Thames River) crosses the reservoir in Lake Havasu City. The bridge, which was disassembled and shipped via the Panama Canal and reassembled in Arizona in 1971, is a major tourist attraction. Besides walking around and across the bridge, you can take a tour, rent a boat, or simply enjoy various eateries and shops (some with a London theme).
Happily, we also knocked two very nice Arizona national wildlife refuges off our list: Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge and the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. The Bill Williams River NWR contains one of the the last stands of natural cottonwood willow forests along the Colorado River. The refuge is also a haven for migratory birds, from yellow warblers to vermilion flycatchers. Havasu NWF protects 30 river miles — 300 miles of shoreline — from Needles, California, to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Definitely consider hiking the Havasu Wilderness Area.
We really enjoyed all the Arizona state parks, but River Island State Park was a notch above the others in layout, facilities, and cleanliness… and definitely a great place to camp when visiting the area.