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Imperial National Wildlife Refuge

A study in contrasts, the 28,000-acre Imperial National Wildlife Refuge (a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area) includes both marshy sloughs of the Colorado River and stark, almost barren uplands watered by an average of only 3 inches of rain a year. Washes are rich with Desert Ironwood, Blue Paloverde, and Honey Mesquite trees. The Painted Desert Trail is a scenic, 1-mile footpath through lava flows and colorful eroded badlands. Lookout points north of the refuge headquarters provide views of the Colorado River, backwaters, and birds. The best way to see the refuge’s 30 miles of river, though, is by boat. Wintering birds include Sandhill Cranes and numerous species of waterfowl.

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  • boating
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • paddling