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Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge

Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge
A pristine stretch of the Bill Williams River within the National Wildlife Refuge - Photo credit John West Images
Website: Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge
: 60911 Highway 95, Parker, AZ 85344 (map)
GPS: 34.291554, -114.104776
Phone: 928-667-4144
Visitor Center Hours: 8am-4pm Mon-Fri, 10am-2pm Sat-Sun (call ahead; hours may change depending on staff and volunteer availability)
Bird List | Mammals List | Butterfly List

Attention outdoor enthusiasts: Grab your hiking boots, fishing pole, camera, or kayak! Whether you crave adventure or serenity, the Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge is the real-deal for outdoor adventure and experiencing a unique Mohave Desert ecosystem like no other.

The Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge - A photographer's delight

Home to several hundred species of indigenous wildlife, the refuge is ideal for both amateur and professional photographers. With one sweep of the shutter, you can capture cottonwood forests, saguaro cacti, black rock mountains, babbling streams, and breathtaking sunsets.

Wildlife watching at Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge - Lake Havasu, Arizona
Bobcat in a tree
Paddle sport enthusiasts, look no further. The serene Bill Williams River runs right through the heart of the refuge, creating a canoeists’ and kayakers’ paradise. A paddle craft launch ramp at the Refuge headquarters makes it convenient and easy to enjoy the natural vegetation and habitat. As you paddle through the Bill Williams River delta marsh, take notice of the majestic mountain tops and the riparian forest river valley, with its beautiful wildlife and green marshes.

Take a hike along the scenic Bill Williams River!

Maybe it’s hiking you love. With each passing day, nature's paintbrush changes a little something about the area, keeping the interest of even the most avid hikers. You can return again and again, and never see the same landscape! Detailed hiking maps are available at the Visitors Center, and provide useful information about wildlife and the surroundings, too, so that every skill level of nature enthusiast can hike the trails.

Fowl weather, friend

Bird watching at Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge - Lake Havasu, Arizona
Great Egret, American Coot, Pied Billed Greb
Bird watchers, grab your binoculars because you've got 6,105 acres to explore! That's almost ten square miles of desert and wilderness that are home to natural cottonwood-willow forests and an array of over 350 bird species including Yellow Warblers, Vermillion Flycatchers, Summer Tanagers, and endangered Yuma clapper rails. Different species of waterfowl, including over 30 different types of ducks, geese, and swans, also roam the river delta.

How about a fish story?

A true one that is…. Lighted fishing piers along the Peninsula Hiking Trail provide for prime fishing, day or night. There is no need to continue searching for that perfect fishin' hole. Some of the largest catfish ever caught in Arizona have come out of the Bill Williams River. Large-mouth and striped bass, red-ear, and crappie roam the river beds and are ready and willing to take your bait. Please use catch-and-release techniques with any native fish captured and don’t forget your fishing license.

Is hunting your game?

The Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge can accommodate that, too! Hunting is permitted for dove, quail, cottontail, and even desert bighorn sheep. The hunting of mourning dove, white-winged dove, Gambel's quail, and cottontail rabbit on designated areas of the refuge is also allowed subject to certain conditions. Rules and regulations apply and licenses are necessary, so be sure to read up on all the State of Arizona and federal regulations.

The Visitors Center

The Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center has interactive displays about native vegetation and wildlife of the area, as well as the conservation techniques used to protect them. Learn about the forestry specialists and scientists working in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers to plant new cottonwood and willow trees. Find out about the new botanical methods being tested to control salt cedar, reintroduce native fish to the area, and return the water flowing into the Bill Williams River to its natural state.

In addition, the Visitor Center offers information about various hiking trails and other activities you may wish to experience. Detailed maps are available, too (and recommended for all visitors who plan to venture out into the refuge). Restroom facilities are available.

Getting there from Lake Havasu City

To get there from Lake Havasu City, follow Arizona Highway 95 south approximately 23 miles. Watch for the signs. When you start to make the curve at the south end of Lake Havasu, between mileposts 160 and 162, look for a rock wall and enter at the gate. The entrance to the paddle craft launch ramp is to the right; public parking and fishing access are to the left. The Visitors Center is directly ahead (map).