This past weekend we made a quick trip to Yuma where we met up with our new travel buddy, an Arctic Fox truck camper. After much research we decided upon this mode of travel as we begin our tentative plans to tour Alaska next year. We are also planning to take this little guy out when we hit the road in a couple of months just to see how living in it will feel for several months. This should be interesting. 😉 Actually, it does have one slide-out so it is roomier than one might think. Put some solar on top and we are good to go!
Cibola National Wildlife Refuge was on my radar after reading the great post Nina had written on this desert sanctuary so we headed that way once our business in Yuma was complete. With BLM land right across from the visitor center, it was the perfect place to enjoy our first night in the cozy confines of our little Fox.
Cibola’s 16,600 acres sit in the lower Colorado River floodplain, a green swath of land tucked into the desert between Arizona and California. This greenbelt is a major flyway for migrating birds, and many songbirds’ diets rely on the insects that are attracted to the flowering honey mesquite trees in the area. Thanks to an arrangement with some of the local farmers, harvested corn fields draw many species of birds and other wildlife as well…plant them and they will come. 🙂 The sandhill crane population, mid-December through mid-January, can often number 2,000 birds. They were rather elusive during our visit and reduced in number, off in a field not accessible to the public. We were content to be voyeurs and gaze from a distance, listening to their unusual vocal callings, since we had a close encounter with these beauties last winter near Fort Pierce, FL.
It was fortuitous that this little adventure came together when it did, as we had wanted to meet up with fellow RVers and bloggers Rick and JoAnne, volunteers at Cibola through the end of February. They were just as lovely as we had been told by others, and we enjoyed some snacks and a nice bottle of wine while getting to know them better. The added bonus was meeting Joe and Murlene, also volunteers, who led us into the refuge as they found us sitting alongside the road planning our route. Joe very kindly took us on a private tour, pointing out many of the local waterfowl and other wildlife that make this their winter home. I learned through Nina’s post of Cibola and talking with Joe that he has an extensive background as a photographer, one that he refers to as a hobby but looks to rival most professionals imho. Check out his website here and see for yourself the beauty he so artfully captures in nature.
The waterfowl are dwindling as they begin to feel the call of cooler climes but there is still much to seduce your senses. Summer here in the desert can be harsh, when temps can soar to 120° F. Soon the ponds will be quieted, where there was a cacophony of sounds just weeks ago, with standing-room only.
When you tire of all the colorful wildlife, just down the road from the ponds is the historic Cibola Cabin and Hart Mine. You might just find a few wild burros foraging in the desert if you are lucky.
Peak time for visiting is mid-December through mid-January but we still found this little desert oasis delightful. If you find yourself wandering in the desert between Blythe and Yuma, consider a visit to Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, a sparkling little desert gem. 🙂
62 thoughts on “Desert Sanctuary ~ Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, AZ”
Beautiful – I’ve got to get down to that part of the world again.
You should definitely plan a trip Andrew. 🙂
The Fox looks good great. Paul follows another blog of people who have the exact…at least we think it is exact….Fox you have. They remind me of you two. They love to explore. Here is there blog
How in the world did we miss Cibola? We were only in Yuma for four days but that is no excuse. Add it to our list!
Thanks for the link Marsha. We had not done any research on Cibola until Nina did her post and I was intrigued. 🙂
What a beautiful area that we never knew existed near Yuma. We’ll have to check it out next time we’re in the area.
We didn’t know either until others had posted about it. 🙂
Oooooooooh! That sounds and looks like a place I would love to visit. I will plan to go there, next January, as I want to see as many of those birds as I can. I hope you enjoy your cozy little Fox. Love your pictures, as usual.
I think you should definitely put it on your calendar for next year Joan. 😀
Lovely photos! We have encountered yellow headed blackbirds by the hundreds at Roper Lake in Safford, AZ…they would take over our bird feeder and fly in huge masses around the park, just wonderful!
I would love to see them up close. I can’t believe I had not heard of them before this! 😀
Looks like such a lovely spot, LuAnn. Congrats on your new camper. It looks lovely, and you must be so excited about the forthcoming Alaska trip. Lovely lot of bird life there too, and the burrowing owl is adorable. 🙂
Thanks Sylvia. That little owl was so very cute! 😀
LuAnn another amazing collection of photos from your travels. The owl photo is astounding and I am surprised by the wild burro. He looks so cute. I will look forward to the escapades from the camping trail!
Thanks Sue. Our escapades later this year will be a trip NOB. Perhaps a meet-up is in order? 😀
Oh indeed! When you have dates let us know. You can be in touch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org We would love to meet up. Now fingers crossed the timing works that we are in the country.
Fingers crossed for sure! We will keep you posted as our travel plans solidify. 🙂
I look forward to hearing from you LuAnn!
The first shot of your camper and the last shot of the mountains are both winners. Wildlife Refuges are always top on my list, and this will be one of them.
Be sure to read my Parting Thoughts of Alaska… to get a feel as you plan your summer in AK next year. Your camper is just right for an Alaskan Adventure and I ‘d say it with confidence 🙂
Thanks MonaLiza. Your blog will be one that will be invaluable to us when we begin planning our Alaska trip in earnest. 😀
Beautiful header! The photo of your new “little buddy” could be an advertisement. Gorgeous photo. Didn’t you love how the burrowing owls just watch. They lined one of the roads we took during our farm tour and they all just there and watched us drive by snapping away. Cutest little things. That burro looks so fluffy…I want to hug him:) Glad you met up with Rick and JoAnne:)
Thanks Pam. I do love those little owls. When I went to school back in AZ many days they greeted me, standing along the sidewalk near the drainage pipes…so cute! 😀
Congratulations on your new little rig! It seems like just the right size for a trip to Alaska. The Arctic Fox is an excellent choice. 🙂 Your photo of the burrowing owl is adorable — I would love to have an up-close encounter with one. Cibola Refuge is definitely on our list!
Thanks Laurel. We plan to go back to Cibola next January to get the full showing of the migrating birds. You two birders would really enjoy this place. Hope to see you soon! 😀
Love the burrowing owl, and the last photo is beautiful! If we don’t visit Cibola this year, we’ll definitely plan a visit for next year.
If you two go at peak season (Dec and Jan) Hector would have much to photograph. 🙂
Congrats on the Artic Fox – how perfect for a trip to Alaska. I look forward to a bunch of gorgeous photos. You seemed to have mastered that FZ200 beautifully 🙂
I still fight with my camera, where you seem to have developed a lovely relationship. 😉
You need to watch the tutorials. I have a link under my “cameras” page…. lots of ah hah moments 🙂
I know whose blog I will be spending a lot of time perusing. 😉
So glad to be able “see” through your pictures where you are. Beautiful and I love the owl and burro too! The little Arctic Fox looks ideal for traveling Alaska. Let us know how you like it. Are you going to SE Alaska too? We lived in Ketchikan for 4 years.
Thanks Jan. I am not sure of our exact route through Alaska yet. We are just in the initial planning stages.
Very cute owl and burro!
I am so glad you guys made the stop. I was great meeting you and we look forward to the next time our paths cross. Great pics of Cibola and a couple of the volunteers. 🙂
So glad we did as well! We look forward to more visits with you both. Safe travels when you get back on the road. 🙂
The owl and the burro are cool. As well as your truck with a house. 😀 And that website you provided us is very impressive. He is an expert photographer everyone desires to be.
It is a cool little place to visit Rommel. Keep that in mind when you get back to the states. 🙂
So glad you made it out there! And the new truck camper looks fabulous…you’ll be able to go anywhere in that thing!
Thanks for writing the wonderful post. Wish we had gotten there a few weeks earlier. Would you care for an old friends’ visit when you are in SD or are you needing a respite from all the social activities? Would love to see the two of you again.
Oh definitely!!! In fact we’ve been talking about how we could meet up with you again. Would love to see you. If hubby is busy and you want to come solo you can do that too…we have an extra bed 🙂
Wonderful!!! I will give you a call in the next few days. 🙂
You have convinced me… I need to get down to Yuma! Such beautiful photos you shared. The owl… fabulous shot!! I am intrigued with owls now as we have a few Great Horned Owls in our backyard. Never can get a picture of them as it is always dark when I hear them. Or once I saw them but my camera was not close by.
It is a beautiful bird sanctuary. I would recommend going a little earlier in the year than we did, perhaps sometime in January.
I hear ya… I have written that down in my notes on my phone!
that arctic fox looks great! love it. see you are putting your name on your wonderful photos. great, lu. they deserve it!
Thanks so much David! Hope you have recovered from that root canal. 🙂
Looks like another beautiful place to see in Arizona! Hope you are doing well LuAnn!
Yes it is and yes I am Nicole. 🙂
Did you make your trip to Yuma at 3:10? Haha, I am so original! Nature at its finest as captured by yourselves again, it really does look like a great place to go and not be able to spend enough time there.
Thinking of heading to Alaska, eh? Sounds epic it is where the tumbleweeds came to your country I believe from Russia if i remember correctly and of course it is Commander Riker’s birthplace from Star Trek and then there is Sarah Palin…you see this is why ou need to go up there and make me seem less ignorant about the place.
Did not make it to Yuma at 3:10 Ste J. See, this is why I need you along on our adventures. Imagine the countless blog posts I could write! As for Alaska, it is in the tentative plans for 2016. Tumbleweeds…another reason to embrace Russia and then there is Sarah Palin. We will save that topic for another time. 😉
Haha, well put my name tentatively down for at least part of your journey.
Get back over here and I will! 🙂
You open our eyes to delights hidden in such out of the way and seemingly desolate places. Who would have thought to find such beauty between Blythe and Yuma!? Intrigued by the Artic Fox camper, must learn more.
I had never heard of Cibola until I read another blog post. So glad we made it there before all the birds took flight. We just returned from a few days out in the desert of Anza Borrego, testing out our little fox. It is really very cozy. 🙂
Your pictures are wonderful. That last one is *heavenly*. You have piqued my interest in Cibola.
Cibola is a little gem in the desert. Next time I think we will go a few weeks earlier, perhaps early to mid-January.
Gorgeous photos LuAnn. I would love to have seen that many Yellow-headed Blackbirds all at once. I think they are stunning! Have to plan a visit to Cibola! Have fun!
I can’t believe I had never heard of them before we visited Cibola. 🙂
Great photos. Is that a cactus or a giant pickle? 🙂
Thanks Lisa! I think it is a giant pickle cactus! You have heard of those I’m sure. 🙂
Great overview of the refuge, love that last picture especially!
Thanks Pam, and thanks for leading me to your blog. 🙂