Painted Desert Trail

Our family enjoyed a nice hike through the Painted Desert Trail today.  This is our second time hiking the trail and I think it’s so great, I want to share!  The Painted Desert Trail is part of the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge and is located out past Yuma Proving Ground close to Lake Martinez.  The trail is about 1.3 miles around (it makes a big loop) and takes you through a rainbow of colors left by 30,000 year-old volcanic activity and features a panoramic view of the Colorado River valley.  It’s also a great opportunity to see desert plants and wildlife.
It will take you about an hour to get there from Yuma.  Start by heading north on Highway 95 for 25 miles. Turn west on Martinez Lake Road for 13 miles and follow signs to visitor center.  The turns are well marked, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it. There are some huge swells in the road that make you feel like you’re on a roller coaster ride (which my kids LOVE and put their hands in the air) and dirt roads past Lake Martinez Road, so if you have a vehicle with more underbody clearance, take that one.  A standard car will get there just fine, but you may want to drive a little slower.
While I have yet to go to the visitor center, I’ve heard good things about it.

The Visitor Center is open from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. From November 15 to March 31, also open Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Enjoy the exhibits, native plant garden, and watch a wildlife video.

Start of the trail.  If they’re available, grab a brochure.  It will help narrate your surroundings at different viewing points.

There are markers like this one, numbered 1-6, along the way to guide you and that correspond with the pamphlet that can educate you on your surroundings.

The trail is not too strenuous. There are a few steep parts, but otherwise it’s mostly level. Not stroller friendly.

This natural column of rock is called a hoodoo – that’s a fun name any kid will enjoy!

View from one of the top of the peeks.

There are other markers along the way to help keep you on the trail.
It took us about an hour to complete the hike and we paused here and there to explore.  The first time we did this trail was about a year ago and my youngest was only 3-years old and he did great….although my older one complained a bit as we got towards the end.  There were no issues this time with my boys at 4 & 6-years.

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