Havasu National Wildlife Refuge is located along the Colorado River extending
for 24 miles between Needles, California and Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
When the gates closed at Parker Dam in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt
created Havasu National Wildlife Refuge to provide habitat and protect
wildlife resources within the newly established area.
Havasu Refuge now consists of 44,371 acres, of which 14,606 acres have
been designated wilderness. The Colorado River and its backwaters provide
over 300 miles of shoreline within the refuge.
General Refuge Information
The refuge headquarters is located in Needles, California. Needles is
served directly by I - 40 from Kingman, Arizona to Barstow, California.
Arizona State Route 95 intersects the refuge at several points. The refuge
is open year round. River access is available from a variety of public
and private boat launching ramps at each end of the refuge. Train and
bus service are available into Needles. Private aircraft may land at Needles,
Lake Havasu, Bullhead City. Scheduled, commercial flights arrive daily
in Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City and rental cars are available.
In the lower Colorado River valleys, the natural habitat provides a critical
winter food supply for thousands of geese ducks, sandhill cranes, among
many other wildlife species, and has done so for several thousand years.
Human development whether it be mines, farms, homes, shopping centers,
freeways, or rail right - of - ways reduces available wildlife habitat.
Providing suitable habitat for wintering migratory birds is the primary
goal of the refuge.
The endangered Yuma clapper rail, peregrine falcon, and southern bald
eagle all can be found at Havasu Refuge. Numerous species of shore and
marsh birds also use the lands and waters of the refuge. Herons and egrets
nest in rookeries within Topock Marsh. The Clark's grebe nests in Topock
Gorge and visitors frequently see desert bighorn sheep there.
Smaller mammals living on the refuge include coyotes, foxes, and bobcats
which feed on the numerous cottontails, jackrabbits, packrats, and mice.
A wide variety of neo-tropical birds move through the refuge and many
utilize riparian habitat for nesting.
Wildlife species checklists are available at the refuge office and in
leaflet boxes at the major entrance to the refuge.
Each year, thousands of visitors come to Havasu NWR to take their boats
or canoes onto Topock Marsh or the Colorado River. Among many water -
oriented activities, people enjoy fishing, watching waterbirds, or just
relaxing on the marsh. With the increasing popularity of the refuge for
water oriented activities, visitor congestion, and the problems which
a accompany high usage are becoming more apparent. Please follow regulations
and respect other refuge visitors.
This scenic, narrow canyon has become a favorite destination for many
boaters on this section of the Colorado River. The eastern bank of the
river forms the boundary for the Needles Wilderness. Boats may enter either
end of Topock Gorge and operators must be alert throughout the Gorge to
close, two - way traffic. Water skiing, camping, and open fires are not
permitted in the narrow Gorge. Several locally published boating guide
books give a variety of names to the features seen from the river and
some of the boat rental facilities offer detailed strip maps.
With the passage of the Arizona Desert Wilderness Bill in 1990, 14,606
acres or 32 percent of Havasu Refuge was designated as wilderness. Wilderness
designation limits some visitor activities, such as vehicular travel of
prospecting. However, the wilderness experience for those hiking through
the area should be a quiet, peaceful trip.
Due to increasing popularity of the area, it is more important that all
individuals operating watercraft and other recreational equipment be familiar
with the safety regulations which govern their visit.
All applicable Federal, State and local regulations apply within the
boundary of Havasu Refuge. For a complete list of applicable regulations,
refer to Title 50 of the code of Federal Regulations, Federal Register
and applicable California and Arizona State regulations which may be obtained
in the refuge office.
Personal watercraft (examples: jet skis, waverunners) are not allowed
in backwaters off the main Colorado River channel for the 15 mile stretch
from the buoy line at the Island/Castle Rock location, north to the Interstate
40 bridge, buoy line. Please watch for buoys and signs.
Boating is permitted in refuge waters except where restricted by appropriate
signs and buoys. All boats are to conform with the appropriate Federal,
State, and local laws.
Water skiing is permitted only on portions of the Colorado River. Skiing
is prohibited in Topock gorge and within all backwater areas. There must
be an operator and observer on board. The observer is to display a red
or orange flag (12x12 inches minimum, mounted on a handle) ONLY when the
skier is down in the water. A skier must wear some type of flotation device.
Careless operation of water skis is prohibited. Skiing is permitted only
between sunrise to sunset. Skiing is prohibited within 300 feet of a swimming
beach or within 100 feet of any person swimming outside a designated swimming
Swimming & Skin Diving
Swimming, wading, scuba - diving, and skin - diving are permitted except
where restricted by signs.
Sport fishing is permitted in all waters open to the public except those
areas designated by sign or barrier as being closed. State and Federal
fishing laws and regulations, plus the following special condition apply:
possession or use of trot-lines on the refuge is prohibited.
Frogs may be taken during the season by gig spear, bow and arrow, or hook
and line, and may be taken with the aid of an artificial light.
Overnight mooring of watercraft is permitted for those campers staying
in a designated camp area. Boat slips are available for nominal fee at
the Five Mile Landing concession on Topock Marsh.
Wake-less speed only is permitted in the harbor of Five Mile Landing concession
on Topock Marsh and the entrance and harbor of Golden Shores Marina, located
at the I-40 bridge. The backwaters off of the main channel in most of
Topock gorge are "No Wake" zones. (See Closed Areas section). Observe
and obey signs and buoys.
All motorized vehicles, including motorcycles, are permitted only on developed
roads and parking areas. Driving off roads or on roads closed by sign
or barrier is prohibited. Vehicles must be operated safely and operators
must be licensed in accordance with State law for street use.
Camping is permitted on Havasu Refuge, but is restricted to boat and tent
camping along the Arizona shoreline below the buoy designating the south
entrance to Topock Gorge area. All camping is limited to 7 consecutive
nights. Camping is prohibited in Mesquite Bay. Recreational vehicle and
tent camping are available at the Five Mile Landing Concession at Topock
Fires are permitted only in the designated camping area of the Five Mile
Hunting and Weapons
Please consult our Hunting leaflets for details.
Dumping, disposing or littering in any manner of garbage, refuse, or other
debris except at facilities designed for that purpose is prohibited. Litter
facilities are provided only for recreational users who are swimming,
boating, picnicking, fishing, hunting, or camping at that time. Please
practice pack-it-in, pack-it-out and always leave your campsite cleaner
than when you arrived.