Camping on the Colorado River

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Last weekend my sister, her boyfriend, and his sister drove out to the Colorado River for a weekend of boating and floating.

 

We set up camp just south of Blythe, and we were treated to some of the best weather and thinnest crowds I’ve ever experienced out there.

 

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Interstate 10 has some nasty potholes. One of them was gnarly enough to fling the license plate off our boat trailer.

 

I was expecting Mid-March to be a little early in the season for a Spring-time river trip. The River is unbearably hot during Summer with an average daily high temperature of 104°F (40°C) for five straight months (May – Sept.). Fall can be stormy, and Winter gets too cold at night. Spring provides ideal conditions, and they have officially arrived. We enjoyed warm swimming weather all day, and comfortable stargazing all night.

 

Put it this way, usually I can’t stand talking about the weather, and here I’ve dedicated an entire paragraph to it. The conditions were that good.

 

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I’m used to camping off the water, but this turned out to be a great spot. I’m sure later on in the season the boat traffic would get distracting, but for us it was the right amount of entertainment.

 

Perhaps on account of Spring in full swing, the wild life we saw was especially active. One of the trees above our tents was swarming with bees. Standing directly underneath their uniform, surround-sound droning was an immersive sound experience.

 

Swallows were continuously darting around overhead. By day they flew around individually, some skimming the water surface and some flying so high it took a second to bring their tiny fluttering bodies into focus. Before dusk they flew south in a dispersed flock that took 20 minutes to pass. They numbered in the tens of thousands.

 

If you’ve ever driven in the deserts of southern California you’ve probably seen their nests tucked up underneath concrete overpasses. Tricky little craftsmen, they are.

 

Beyond the swarms of birds and bees we came across a variety of other wildlife.

 

The highlights include a soaring osprey, a few vultures, many skittish rabbits and drab brown lizards, jumping bass, trolling carp, delicate dragon flies perched on still water reeds, and some pre-dawn coyote howling.

 

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This is the campground inlet. Being able to launch our boat and tie up right next to camp is always a huge plus.

 

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Smooth sailing

 

We kept a casual schedule of activities for the weekend. On Saturday we motored & floated south downriver, and had a beer at Walters Camp before heading back north in the afternoon. On Sunday we started north in search of future campsites, but less than 10 miles into our trip we ran into some mechanical problems. We anchored in a calm inlet off the river and sorted it out. Our shifting cable had broken, but after some wrenching around we got the motor back into gear. Not wanting to push our luck, we went for a celebratory dip before driving and floating home.

 

We took a little time to wakeboard and fish, but all things considered this was a decidedly leisurely trip.

 

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I get the sense that when people think of California their mental picture is a far cry from the mountainous desert and Colorado River estuary I’m familiar with.

 

I felt compelled to share it with you all.

 

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*If you’re dying to know what campsite we stayed at feel free to email me. Somehow it seemed wrong to post such a neat little spot on such a public platform.

 

Thanks for reading.

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