Monday, February 14, 2022

More About Yuma

High: 86.  Low: 51.    Site: 113.  Foothill Village RV Park

Any time we are in an area, we try to learn more about it if we haven't been there before. Yuma has some interesting facts about it that perhaps you didn't know.

If you like salads, chances are that the lettuce/greens in it were grown in Yuma. More than 91% of North America's leafy greens are grown on Yuma farms. Agriculture is a 4 BILLION  dollar industry here.

There are two military installations here, the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma and the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Grounds. Can't beat the superb flying weather! The Yuma air show is every March, and is one of the area's most popular. Yuma is the "sunniest place on earth", according to the Guiness Book of World Records. The sun shines 339 days a year! Year long average high is 88. 

Sparky is going to try to check out a biking trail/path or two with the few remaining days left. There is a LOT of hiking in the area. Many trails require "high clearance" vehicles to get to the trailhead so that means very rocky, rough backroads to get there. We don't like to take our truck on those roads, even if we could. Just too rough.

If you get the local magazines from the Visitor's Center, or consult the All Trails app, you will find them.

The other beautiful guide with SO much useful information, is the Arizona "Yuma" Magazine.

There are three national wildlife refuges in the area: Kofa, Imperial, and Cibola. If you visit these areas, you MIGHT see bighorn sheep, wild burros, desert tortoises, bobcats, and many different bird species. We went to the Kofa Refuge and it was all desert and really rough driving roads as far as we could see. There's Mittry Lake Wildlife Area with three scenic mountain range backdrops. There are three casinos in the area if you are feeling lucky. The Center of the World is here in Felicity, CA, just a few miles away--one of those kitschy road side attractions you won't want to miss. The eccentric owner has built granite slabs etched with the entire history of the planet with unique formations of the stone. There's Martha's Date Farm, where you can get a delicious date shake and a tour. Check out the Imperial Sand Dunes National Recreation Area. It's on the Bravo TV list of "22 Essential Places to Take a Selfie Before You Die". This is one of the most popular off road riding areas in the country and the terrain used in a couple of the Star Wars movies. And of course, the Colorado River is here for boating and fishing activities. Then there's the gustatory scene--many great Mexican restaurants and other delicious offerings! So many things to see and do, and not enough time to do them. 
Hiking to Telegraph Pass

One awesome challenging hike is just a couple of miles down the road from the Foothill Village RV Park where we were staying. About three miles from the park, on North Frontage Road, is Telegraph Pass. It's about a 5.3 mile hike total up to Telegraph Pass and back down. The trails aren't marked at all, but most lead one way or another to get you to the base kiosk where the trail REALLY gets serious. It doesn't look too bad here at the left, you are heading for the towers at the top of the mountain. And the serious climb begins....
Once you get to the base of the mountain where the kiosk and fencing are, which has some elevation from the parking lot, but not bad, you then take an old paved gravel/cement road which travels almost vertically to the top where the electrical towers are. It is a GRUELING  climb and Sparky's heart rate got up to over 152 bpm just with every few feet of elevation change. Lots of very sharp switchbacks.
But she wanted to complete the hike to the top, a total of over 1220 feet in elevation. Getting closer to the top!
The one thing that spurred her on, was a young woman with a BABY in a loose slung baby carrier across her front. There were also two guys who JOGGED to the top and back down TWICE while Sparky was navigating her way to the top. GEESH! And--Eldo was sending Sparky encouraging words, "YOU CAN DO IT!" which really helped while she was huffing and puffing. Believe it or not, there was a cellphone signal just about all the way. That was a good thing, in case Sparky should fall off the mountain, but seriously, the trail was fairly wide, no worries there. (WHEW! says Eldo. I always worry about her.) was the payoff at the top....
Sparky made it!
It took her almost 5 hours to climb to the very top and back down, but it was worth it! The next day, time for a bike ride....Sparky has no idea who Yuma "Charles" is, but because she has a brother, Charlie, she liked this bike and so took this photo. Her Charlie is a BIG bike rider! He just competed in a 100 mile bike ride in the California desert last week!

Bike trail past Yuma Prison State Park
Sparky checked out recreational bike riding in Yuma, and it's kind of chopped up as far as how you can ride for any distance, but you can get a lot of miles in by mixing up the trails and spurs.  Ride a little ways on one paved trail, pick up another spur, ride along the canals or levees for awhile, ride through the city parks closely connected to each other,  pick up another spur, etc. You also can ride very quickly (less than 6 miles?) between a set of city parks. One of the nicer riding areas is in the West Wetlands Park. 
West Wetlands Park

Some of the park is under construction, but a lot of it is completed. Beautiful duck pond, an awesome children's castle playground and plenty of space to ride around to check out some things at the park, like the Solar Garden--simply an array of solar panels fenced in with metal plates posted on the fencing with awesome Native American signs/designs/motifs all the way around it.
Solar Garden

a Yuma bike trail

We will say that our current park location, which is east outside of Yuma, in the unincorporated Foothill Village area, is a bit of a drive to do so many of these things. You have to hop on I-8 and drive 15-25 miles or more to get to trails and it's about 14 miles to downtown Yuma and the California border, so just keep that in mind. Be sure to check out Slab City, or "The Slabs" near Niland, CA, 1.5 hour drive from Yuma, a VERY kitschy famous American road side attraction. 

It's an off-the-grid alternative bohemian lifestyle community consisting of mostly snowbirds in the Salton Trough area of the Sonoran Desert. Supposedly 3500 people winter in "The Slabs".   During the rest of the year, about 50-100 people live there year round. The entry section looked like people REALLY down on their luck to us. Dusty full junk yards, a real mishmash of stuff. Maybe a couple of eccentric snowbirds in the bunch, but the living conditions seemed pretty destitute with the RV's we saw. But, for the residents, they are absolutely fine with their lifestyle. No judging meant here, to each his own, whatever you are comfortable with! There were all kinds of yard art laying around, heavily painted and decorated with biblical sayings and thoughts. 

There were more RVs appearing to be clustered farther away. There are actually 3 parts to the Slabs--a religious art installation, the East Jesus Sculpture Garden, and the "city" itself. The community started in 1942. If you look deeper, you would find artists, homesteaders, and retirees living off the grid. More power to them, to be able to do that in the desert! There are NO city services, no water, no electricity, no garbage. You live there, you pack it in, you pack it out, or make it on site. Sparky loved all the paint cans left that were used. They were very much apart of the art.

The Salvation Mountain religious art installation was very interesting.

Leonard Knight, the "founder" of the community, loved Jesus and believed in asking for forgiveness. He felt compelled to build a monument out of sand and adobe attesting to his beliefs, hence the Mountain. It is crumbling and decaying a bit and was damaged recently by a storm, (they have storms in sunny, sunny Yuma????) we are not sure if they are trying to maintain that part of the area or not. Leonard died in 2014, but seven volunteers keep the site going. There is a library, too, that takes book donations and has a list of desired items on an Amazon list! What a place! This guy seems to be connected to the world in his own way....

And with that, we head back to Tucson, AZ for another couple of weeks where Sparky will revisit the Loop biking trails and we will enjoy a little bit cooler weather now that we are away from the Mexican border. See you later!


  1. So weird that the sun shines 369 days a year. . .is that a test from the teacher? Just askin'? LOL!

    Enjoyed the pics, as always!

  2. P.S. I truly did not enjoy Slab City at all. When we got to the mountain, I just stayed in the car, while the rest of the group ventured over to check it out. Just a bit of a brain overload for me. . .too much!

    Did love the Salton Sea Area though.

  3. oopsie....339 days a year of sunshine...fixed the blog. thanks for pointing that out!