Kofa Wildlife Refuge, AZ

Jan 6, Saturday

The rest of my week at Saddle Mountain near Tonopah, AZ goes well. It’s a quiet and rather dull stay from a blogging perspective – not much worth writing about happens as my focus is on getting as much work done as I can to clear up my schedule for Quartzsite.

But today my two weeks are up, and it isn’t quite time to go to Q yet. Hmm, where should I camp in the meantime?

A blog reader and friend joined me out at Saddle Mountain for a few days, and he’s moved on to Kofa Wildlife Refuge and extends an offer to to share his camp there. I accept.

The drive from Tonopah to Kofa is quite short, less than two hours total between I10 and south a bit on 95, but I still take a break in the middle to have lunch at a rest area along the way. Five years into full-time RVing, and it still gives me a giggle to be able to cook heat up a real meal at a rest stop.

I’m not in any rush and by the time I get settled in to my spot at Kofa, the winter sun is already low in the sky. We’re parked in the middle of a cholla garden, which some people (especially dog owners) might consider a negative, but I find them quite pretty. I love the color gradient from tawny to dark brown.

The lighting makes it hard to capture the colors right now, but I take two photos I’ll call ‘A Study in Spines’. The problem with cholla isn’t the tall plant, which can be easily seen an avoided, but the little spiky bits they drop on the ground, just waiting to stab you through your shoe if you accidentally step on one. I clear a bunch of these little pieces out of the campsite, along with the natural land mines other desert plants have dropped.

Jan 10, Wednesday

This is my first time camping in Kofa, but not my first visit. Last year I came out here with the Xscapers for a group hike to the only native palms found in the state of Arizona. This boondock is along that same road (Palm Canyon Road) and actually very close to the trailhead, which is located in the mountains just east of here.

This is a pretty spot. There’s more vegetation than at Saddle Mountain, and the mountains here are easier to photograph because of their location relative to the sun. I sit in my new chair and enjoy the glow of the sunset on them in the evenings.

I have way more photos of Bertha and Cas with these mountains as a backdrop than will fit in this post.

On the 9th, the weather takes a turn. I am lured out shortly after lunch for what my friend says will be a short hike. The wind is blowing strong and rain is predicted later in the afternoon, and we both want to get a walk in while we can.

We head up Palm Canyon Road toward the trailhead. Usually there’s a fair bit of traffic along here, the hike is pretty well known. But there are only a couple vehicles in the parking lot when we get up there, the weather must be scaring them away.

Both of us have been to the main palm grove, but supposedly there’s another one on a less-used trail that skirts the edge of the mountains. Not ready to turn back yet, we start down that one.

Being this close to the cliffs, the wind isn’t as bad. We’re out of the cholla garden and there’s less vegetation in general, which make the squat, round barrel cactus easier to find. There are a few saguaro up here too, but they’re not common in this area. We’ve come up in elevation quite a bit, and the boondocking area is visible to the west under a sky that is slowly filling with clouds.

The trail takes us up and down washes where water drains from the mountains. In a few spots, stains on the rocks tell of waterfalls that feed these washes after a good rainfall.

We don’t make it to the other grove. But we still end up hiking just over four miles, which is a good distance. On the way back down the road to camp, the clouds gathering over the mountains are starting to look ominous, it’s a good thing we turned back when we did.

Over an hour later while typing at the computer, a low bank of clouds comes swooping in and swallows the mountains behind camp. I love photographing mountaintops wreathed in clouds, it lends an air of mystery to the scene, both in person and in the photo.

The rain soon follows, and it’s a good heavy rain that soon has water flowing through the wash out my door. The flowing water sound is nice, but the full rainbow with the mountains lit up by the setting sun is even better.

I have yet to experience a jaw-dropping sunset in the southwest this winter (still have another two months or so, crossing fingers), but this rainbow makes up for it!

Tomorrow I’m headed to Quartzsite for the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous and Xscapers Annual Bash, this rainbow seems like a good omen of things to come!

* * *

In real time, I’ve just left Quartzsite for Winterhaven, CA and part 2 of the Xscapers Annual Bash. Thanks everyone who came to Thursday’s work-camping seminar! Another good group of people and good questions. Now that my speaking engagements are over and I have fast internet again, I can relax a little and get back to work on other IO projects. Looking forward to this slower-paced week.

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Lori on January 25, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    Hi Becky–I really love this blog and follow it regularly. As someone who is not yet full-timing, there are many things I’m curious about. For instance, why do you put the covers on your Casita tires?

    • Becky on January 26, 2018 at 2:35 pm

      Thanks for following along Lori!

      The covers prevent UV damage when I’m parked. This isn’t a problem for vehicle tires that will wear out from use before becoming brittle from UV exposure, but is a real thing for RV tires that can still have a lot of tread left at seven years old, but will develop cracks in the sidewall from UV exposure (dry rot). Using covers increases tire longevity.

  2. Becky on January 25, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    You’re welcome Norm and Ann! Glad you two enjoyed this.

  3. Ann in Tacoma on January 22, 2018 at 1:09 am

    And a double rainbow at that! That was spectacular. But the photos that I liked even better were the “Study in Spines” photos .. excellent and fascinating. Thank you!
    MnDreamer … here’s to you! And please do let all of us know how it goes.
    Ann in Tacoma recently posted..Dosewallips, day 3, Ranger Hole TrailMy Profile

  4. Norm H. on January 21, 2018 at 6:59 pm

    Really enjoyed your pictures in this post, especially the clouds, water in the desert (I can smell it as I type) and, of course, the rainbow. Reminds me of living there in my youth. Good memories. Thanks for sharing with us all.

  5. Linda Sand on January 21, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    When my husband was a helicopter pilot those low hanging clouds were known as cumula granite–not so good when flying. 🙂

    • Becky on January 25, 2018 at 12:36 pm

      Yikes, I can imagine!

  6. Becky on January 21, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    Thanks everyone! Glad you enjoyed this post.

  7. Dawn on January 21, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Oh my! What a beautiful place to spend a few days! And of course when I got to the rainbow….I had to say “OH WOW!” out loud!

    PS: I’m so excited for MnDreamer above! Good luck and have fun and maybe blog about it!

    • MnDreamer on January 21, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      Thanks, Dawn. I hope to blog, when I get my “casita legs” under me 🙂

  8. MnDreamer on January 21, 2018 at 8:10 am

    The rainbow photo is beautiful, Becky. I’m so encouraged by your writing as I get closer and closer to my time out there. I found a used Casita, purchased it, and and it’s waiting for me in Texas. My retirement “letter” is turned in, and step by step, just as it did for you, it is actually happening! I have to take care not to wish this present time in my life away, but it’s hard, as I feel so ready to begin the journey on the learning curve of this next chapter. Thanks again for sharing your life and providing the inspiration!

    • Becky on January 21, 2018 at 4:12 pm

      That’s fantastic Mn, congrats!

  9. GKLott on January 21, 2018 at 7:28 am

    Nice images, good narrative. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Ron on January 20, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    Incredible rainbow photos

  11. RGupnorth on January 20, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    Nice rainbow image.

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