Sunday Drive: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge

Sunday Drives have become our way of getting out and discovering new places to explore, and still being as safe as possible during the pandemic. Sam saw a story about the sandhill cranes that visit Arizona each Winter. They are dispersed in several areas South of Tucson, so we decided to pack a picnic lunch and take a drive to one of them – Cibola National Wildlife Refuge near Yuma Arizona.

Getting out the door is always the hardest part – am I right? Gathering my most recent crochet project – with extra yarn and hooks (learned our lesson after I had a crochet emergency driving through Wyoming several year back.) Sam took care of everything else. Maps, picnic, water, wine, cameras and camp chairs. Sam had the car packed with all our necessities and sat in the car waiting for me.

We finally hit the road and we made it from Phoenix to the Refuge in around 2 hours. We actually entered into California crossing the Colorado River to get to the Refuge and crossed over the River again to arrive back into Arizona. We crossed a remnant of the past on our way back to the Arizona side of the river. A tidbit here……for those that don’t know, I work in the transportation industry and have an affinity for old transportation related structures. It was a cool wooden bridge named the Oxbow Bridge coincidently found next to the appropriately named Oxbow Campground and maybe not so coincidentally they are both found in the Oxbow Recreation and Wildlife Area that is managed by BLM (on the California side of the river). Filed away for later, it looked like a great spot for us to come back and camp near the water.

Oxbow Bridge

After crossing the bridge we followed the signs to the Refuge visitor center. It was not open, but had plenty of educational material available at the entrance. We could hear the various bird species off in the distance from the visitor center parking lot. The Refuge has a drive tour that covers a very small part of the refuge, but provides the visitors a great opportunity to see the birds. The first stop was a pond with thousands of geese and ducks. This was the source of the sound we heard at the Visitor Center. Beyond the sound of the birds, this is a quiet place for the human species, and we were really glad that we had not brought one of our dogs, as they are a bit barky at birds. We saw a handful of visitors – all with binoculars and cameras.

We took a slow drive through the tour and pulled off the road in a wide spot and ate our picnic sitting in the car watching what we had come here to see; the sandhill cranes. They are amazing and really special to see so many in one spot, there were hundreds of these birds in the very limited area that we drove. This was well worth the drive and this is the time of year to visit the Yuma area. Skies were blue, temperature in the 70’s and not too many people in the Refuge. Get out and explore – the cost was only a tank of gas.

Sam and Lisa

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