Kayak Paddles on the Lower Colorado River
at Picacho State Park and Ferguson Lake


I had never paddled on moving water in a kayak so I thought that the "rapid-free" nature of the lower Colorado river north of Yuma, Az at Picacho State Park might be a good spot to try for the first time. Even so with no prior experience at river paddling I was pretty apprehensive. But, as it turned out I probably could not have picked a better spot. The current force was light enough that I could paddle upstream with just a moderate effort, so there was no danger that I was going to be swept away. The river channel in this area is in it's natural state and the desert countryside is very scenic. There is a lot of reed growth along the banks however, so there are not many places to put ashore. I went while the water was still cold so there were no waterskiers or jetskiers. I paddled for a couple of miles up from the boat docks at the state park and essentially drifted back to my starting point. Fortunately, I was able to pull in easily to the launch point. I originally wondered whether I would be waving at it as I was pulled downstream!

(Click on photos to enlarge)



I reached Ferguson Lake by returning to Yuma and then driving north through the winter visitor encampments near Senator Wash. I was able to locate Ferguson Road near Senator Wash Reservoir and from there it was a long drive through the Chocolate Mountains through some pretty barren country to Ferguson Lake. As the road approached the lake, it was high above the river with a grand view out to the east towards Fisher Landing on the Arizona side. The road ended abruptly at the entrance to a fishing camp. But back from the end of the road, there was access to the lake, which is actually a slough off the main river channel. There was no development at that launch point. I felt no current in the areas that I paddled. The development of reeds along the banks once again was tremendous. The area seemed like it could be a fishing paradise. But I found it somewhat confusing trying to keep track of where I was at because of all of the reeds. Fortunately there was a palm tree at the launch point which was a good landmark.



This trip was not all about paddling. When I left Picacho State Park north of Picacho Peak, I did not travel directly back to Yuma. Instead I made my way down the west side of Picacho Peak on several interconnecting 4wd roads to Interstate 8 at Sidewinder Road. As always, I kept an eye out for old machinery and while there was not a lot, I was not skunked. When I camped for the night, I was entertained by the military on maneuvers on and around Picacho Peak.