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Yuma, Arizona
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Gold Canyon, Arizona
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Mesa, Arizona

Spotlight: Yuma

History meets nature in this perennial resort

Nature, history, arts and the great outdoors collaborate in Yuma to delight visitors from all walks of life. Not just for snowbirds or retirees, Yuma offers fun for young and old, active and leisurely alike. This thriving city rests on the banks of the Colorado River, once a site of exploration by Spanish adventurers and later a city of swift passage to California for settlers eager to find riches during the Gold Rush.

In modern-day Yuma, the unique geography calls to outdoor enthusiasts. Enjoy a night under the stars at Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, and look out for the park’s treasured residents, desert bighorn sheep. Enjoy a cool morning hike along the Palm Canyon Trail and bring your binoculars or camera to spot more of the desert’s diverse inhabitants.

Birdwatchers are happy to know that upwards of 400 species live or migrate to the waterways surrounding the city. Sites like East Wetlands restoration area and Mittry Lake welcome geese, teal, kites and even bald eagles.

Hunting enthusiasts can pursue limited seasonal opportunities to bag doves, elk and small game, and among other species. The Arizona Game And Fish Department welcomes inquiries and provides detailed information on permissible hunting in the state.

Yuma Visitors Bureau

Yuma Visitors Bureau

Fed by the River

Yuma’s proximity to the Colorado River and several lakes makes it a great destination for boaters and water-loving adventurers. On the Arizona side of Imperial Dam, Martinez Lake gives visitors a chance to go kayaking, canoeing or fishing by boat. On a hot day, you can relax and enjoy a lazy ride down the Colorado River on an inner tube for as little as an hour, or as long as three hours, depending on where you launch.

Largemouth, smallmouth and striped bass make their homes in many of the hidden lakes and water channels created when the dam was constructed. Drop a line in Squaw Lake or Ferguson Lake, or in the Colorado River channel.  Board a paddleboat sternwheeler for a chance to see the landscape slide by as you travel down the river.

Explore Yuma’s historic downtown, where Main Street once marked the end of the Gila Trail. The oldest buildings date to the 1920s; flooding prior to the 20th century took its toll on the adobe structures that populated the city, often turning them back into mud. In downtown Yuma, stop in at the Yuma Art Center and visit the recently restored Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge.

The outlaw past of Yuma remains preserved at Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park. Though open for just over three decades, the prison’s reputation as a tough place for criminals to do time remains.

Yuma’s Quartermaster Depot is the birthplace of Southwestern military outposts that were established between 1864 and 1884. The 10-acre park hosts U.S. Army warehouses used to store goods for those posts, and it also features exhibits on the engineering projects that brought irrigation water to the desert valley.

The Castle Dome Mines Museum pays tribute to the mining boom and the town that sprang up as a result. This recreated “ghost town” is a collection of nearly 24 buildings surrounded by the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. Each structure acts as a freestanding museum, decorated and outfitted with period artifacts. Take a self-guided hike through the mining district and enjoy the area’s desert beauty.

Nearby Somerton is home to the Cocopah Museum and Cultural Center, a tribute to the Cocopah, or River People, who thrived along the lower Colorado River for more than 3,000 years. Across the state line in Bard, California, vintage automobiles inspire nostalgia at the Cloud Museum.

Yuma Visitors Bureau

Yuma Visitors Bureau

Soaring Over Yuma

Escape the confines of gravity in a hot-air balloon trip during the winter season and drift over farmland and desert to watch the sunrise over the Gila Mountains. Catch a race at the Cocopah Speedway or take the family to Wild River Family Entertainment Center, where arcade games and billiards share space with laser tag and karaoke.

Little ones will have a blast at Stewart Vincent Wolfe Memorial Playground, designed by local children, and built by volunteers. The park features a dragon slide and a kid-size Old West town. Meet a herd of dromedary camels and 25 other species of animals at Wild World Zoo and Camel Farm.

For More Information

Yuma Visitor Information Center
Arizona Office of Tourism