The Great AZ Road Trip

The Painted Desert Trail

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

The Painted Desert Trail in the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, near Yuma, was developed by the Youth Conservation Corps. Construction began in 1980 and the trail officially opened on November 4, 1983. The trail is 1.3 miles with trail markers interpreting the geologic and natural history of the area. It traverses two washes and climbs over a mesa with a picturesque view of the Lower Colorado River Valley and Sonoran Desert.

This trail was named for the multi-colored mounds of rock from ancient volcanoes that were once active 20-30 million years ago. Colors are determined by the minerals present in each mound. For example, iron creates a rusty red color, while copper shows as green. Home to unique desert plants and animals, the trail is a naturalist’s paradise. Visitors enjoy the opportunity to observe beavertail cactus, desert bighorn sheep, and lizards amidst unusual rock formations.

For more information, call (928) 783-3371

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