Parker is on the east bank of the Colorado River, 163 miles
west of Phoenix. The Parker “vicinity” consists of a number of separate
but interrelated areas. There is the town of Parker, Parker
South, the Arizona side of the Colorado River area, and the communities
on the California side.
Established in 1871, the town was moved some four miles north to the site of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad crossing. At an elevation of 450 feet above
sea level, Parker was founded in 1908 and incorporated in 1948. In
May 1982, by an initiative petition, voters formed La Paz County from
the northern portion of the former Yuma County. On Jan. 1, 1983,
Parker became the county seat for La Paz County.
Parker’s economy is based primarily on retail trade and services.
The 16-mile strip of the Colorado River, between Parker Dam and
Headgate Rock Dam forms one of the finest bodies of water in the
country for water-based recreational activities. This makes Parker a
major destination point for tourists and winter visitors who take
the advantage of local motels, campgrounds, an 18-hole golf course,
mobile homes, RV parks, restaurants, gasoline stations and convenience
markets. Parker also serves as the trade and business center
for the Colorado River Indian Reservation and small towns along
the Colorado River.
Agriculture, historically the major economic base of Parker,
continues to contribute to the local economy. The fertile fields of
the Colorado River Indian Reservation yield melons, lettuce, cotton,
wheat, barley, and alfalfa.
The Colorado River and its lakes offer visitors a variety of water
recreation activities like speed boat racing, water skiing, personal
Watercraft, swimming, and tubing. There is also excellent fishing
for bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, trout, and frogging during season.
Parker Dam, the deepest dam in the world, has self-guided
There are two state parks and one county park in the Parker
area. Buckskin State Park, 11 miles north of Parker, has acres of
green grass and shade trees. River Island State Park has 26 campsites,
day-use areas, and boat launches. La Paz County Park, eight
miles north of Parker, has campgrounds, showers, a launching
ramp, a baseball diamond, tennis courts and 1,000 feet of waterfront,
hookups and dump station. Nearly 30 additional RV parks
and campgrounds offer visitors a variety of amenities and activities.
For the non-water enthusiasts, the surrounding desert is suitable for
off-road vehicles and rock hounding.
A museum with an extensive collection of locally crafted Indian
artifacts, including Chemehuevi basketry, Mojave pottery, Indian
beads and jewelry is operated by the Colorado Indian Tribes.
Colorado River Indian Lands
The Colorado River Indian Lands cover 225,995 acres in Arizona and 42,696 acres in California. Ninety miles of Colorado River shoreline runs north and south through the Indian Lands and includes the town of Parker. Currently, there is a population of 3,1000. The Chemehuevi, Mohave, Hopi, and Navajo are included in the population and all share the land.
The Mohave Indians have lived along the Colorado River for centuries. They farmed the river bottoms and harvested plants in the surrounding area. In the summer, their homes were made of branches, and during the winter they built pit style homes partially underground.
On the other hand, the Chemehuevi roamed the length of the Colorado River. They did not settle down. The Chemehuevi were hunters and gathers.
Both the Mohave and Chemehuevi Indians have fought each throughout history and was considered the “river people.” The Hopi and the Navajo originally came from Northern Arizona, but later moved down to this area along the river.
Charles Debrille Poston was the first Indian Superintendent for Arizona. In 1864, he chose the site for Arizona ’s second Indian Land. The Colorado River Indian Land was established in March 1865 covering 225,995 acres in La Paz County, Arizona.
Today, all four Indian tribes share the land.
The Mohave Indians are known for their handicrafts, such as pottery, necklaces, belts, dolls, cradleboards, and rattles. The Chemehuevi are known for their baskets and powwows.
The Colorado River Indian Tribal Museum and Library is located near the town of Parker. The museum’s mission is to preserve and show the four tribal Indian heritages living on the Colorado River Indian Land. There is a gift shop offering the handicrafts.
The land is home to the Blue Water Casino.
Indian Day Celebration September
All Indian Rodeo December
Colorado River Indian Tribes Museum and Library The Colorado River Indian Tribes Museum and Library features the Mohave, Chemehuevi, Navajo and Hopi Indian Tribes. You will learn about these tribes past and present. The museum has an extensive collection of locally made Indian crafts. The collection includes Chemehuevi basketry, Mojave pottery, Indian beads, and jewelry.
The museum also has a Beebee Brown Basket Collection, which is unique. The nearby ghost town of La Paz has contributed some pieces from long ago. You will enjoy going through this museum. There is so much to learn about the area and the people from the past. The library is adjacent to the museum. Here you will see original manuscripts and records dealing with the Native American cultures.
The Colorado River Indian Tribes Museum and Library are open Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturdays 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. The museum is closed on Sundays and holidays. A small donation is appreciated for the entrance into the museum.
The museum is located off of Highway 95 at 2nd and Mohave in Parker. You can get there from Lake Havasu City or Bullhead City by taking Highway 95 south to Parker.If you would like more information on the museum and/or library, you can call (520) 669-9211 extension 1335.
Hope is in Southern Arizona. It is in La Paz County. The town is located at the junction of U.S. Highway 60 and State Highway 72 in the McMullen Valley. Overview: Hope offers beautiful desert views and a warm climate. The town sits at an elevation of 1,380 feet. The southwest desert climate has a winter low temperature of 40 degrees and a summer high temperature of 105 degrees. History: The town of Johannesberg was established in 1909, near where the town of Hope is today. Unfortunately, the name did not last long. In 1920, the main highway changed its path between Vicksburg and Johannesburg. The new route bypassed Johannesberg causing the town to close. The residents decided to create another town. They placed it along the new highway route. In honor of the change and for good wishes in the future, they named it Hope.
Bouse is an unincorporated community at an elevation of 700feet in western Arizona that is becoming popular as a retirement and visitor center because of its mild winters. The community also is developing as a bedroom community for Parker, the county seat, and 27miles away along state Highway 72. Interstate 10 is 22 miles south. Bouse has abundant groundwater and large tracts of undeveloped land. Bouse was settled in 1906 and named Brayton for John Brayton Martin who kept the Brayton Commercial Company for the Harquahala Mine. However, when the postal application was filed in1907, postal officials picked up the applicant’s name, Thomas Bouse, and the name Brayton faded into history.
Agriculture is a major contributor to the local economy, but the economy has also diversified to include eco- and historic tourism. Crowder-Weisser Cattle Co. still exists, but farming is mostly confined to the Purcell Jojoba Co. That firm has two large greenhouses for producing seedlings and about 1,000 acres under cultivation for jojoba bean production. Manufacturers include POR/DEL, Inc., which builds electronic parts, assembles electronic boards and offers a variety of engineering support services. AZMET II produces flux, a key ingredient in the production of aluminum alloys. La Paz County recently entered a partnership with Browning-Ferris Industries, one of the nation’s largest environmental firms, to construct a federally approved landfill that will provide disposal services to the region. It will be served by the Arizona-California Railway, which provides freight service to Los Angeles and Phoenix. The annual influx of winter visitors doubles Bouse’s population and usually fills the RV parks to capacity.
East of Bouse, 30 miles along a dirt road, is Swansea. Now a ghost town, Swansea was once a copper mining community of 750.Although the mine closed in 1924 and the town died, many remnants still exist. Twenty miles east of Bouse, in the remote Butler Valley, is Camp Bouse. This secret Army base was built during World War II to train men with a “new” tank designed for night warfare. Camp Bouse Ninth Tank Group Memorial was recently established on Highway 72 in Bouse. The Bouse Assay Office has been restored and opened as an information and tourist center.
Founders Day is celebrated in November. The Bouse Boosters hold both a Christmas Bazaar and Spring Fever Days. BOUSE
Salome is in Western Arizona. It is in La Paz County. The town is located in the McMullen Valley between the Harquahala and Harcuvar Mountains on U.S. Highway 60.
Salome is known for being the hometown of Arizona’s first humorist Dick Wick Hall. He put the town on the map. The town sits at an elevation of 1,880 feet. The southwest desert climate has a winter low temperature of 40 degrees and a summer high temperature of 105 degrees. Salome is rich with history, beautiful desert landscape views and fresh air.
Dick Wick Hall and his brother Ernest arrived in Salome in1905. Hall established the “Laughin’ Gas Service Station and Garage,” along the old Phoenix to Los Angeles highway. Signs were displayed revealing jibes like “Tickle Lizzie’s carburetor with our laughing gas” and “Smile, you don’t have to stay here but we do.”
The name Salome came from Mrs. Salome Pratt, who one day had her shoes off and then decided to cross a piece of ground. She soon discovered the desert floor was too hot to handle and she proceeded to dance across the desert. This image has been immortalized with the phrase “Salome – where she danced – Arizona.”
Hall was an entrepreneur and many in a town called him the “Sage of Salome.” He was a humorist that enjoyed poking fun at the hot desert town, desert heat and desert roads. Through the production of his newspaper, the Salome Sun, Hall is credited to have made Salome one of the best-known small towns in the1900’s. He also is noted for the town’s annual growth of 100% per year, with “19 people in 19 years.”
When you visit Salome, you will find several paintings of Mrs. Salome Pratt dancing, along with drawings of the Salome Frog. Hall’s seven-year-old pet frog, which was desert bred and had never learned to swim, became almost as well known as its owner. A clever poem was written describing the life of Salome Frog.
Although Hall passed away in 1926, his stories and characters have lived on. Visitors will clearly see upon entering a town that his humor continues.
Many people come to Salome for the many RV parks, airpark, and new business section.
The Alamo Lake State Park is a must see during a visit to Salome. Visitors will find boating, camping, and fishing at the park. Many believe that Alamo Lake has some of the best fishing in the state. It is easy to get to the state park. You will head east out of town until you come to Alamo Road. Here you will turn left and head north up to the lake.
Great Arizona Outback Chili Cookoff and Poker Run February
Best Dam Bike Tour November
Annual Fiddlers Jamboree and Flea Market
Dick Wick Hall Days Celebration October
Parker Strip Recreation Management Area
Back country byways traverse scenic corridors that are off the beaten path. The Parker Dam Road “Thread of Life” highlights the scenic, natural, historic, and prehistoric values along an11 mile (18 km) road that travels along the California shore of the Colorado River. This area has attracted people, wildlife, and vegetation along a linear oasis, creating the Thread of Life. The byway provides an abundance of recreation activities including camping, swimming, boating, fishing, rock hounding, hiking, OHV play areas and wildlife viewing.
The byway begins at Parker Dam and travels along the Parker Dam Road south to the boundary of the Colorado River Indian Reservation. Look for interpretive pullouts along the way.
Buckskin Mountain State Park
Buckskin Mountain State Park attracts nature and water lovers to the area. The park is at an elevation of 420 feet and covers 1.677 acres. Its perfect location along the Colorado River, draws hikers, campers, fishers, and water enthusiasts. When you arrive at Buckskin Mountain State Park, you will want to go to the visitor center and look into all the activities that you can get involved in.
Campers will find showers, electric hook-ups, laundry facilities and a dump station. There are 125 camping units. Pets are allowed at the park.
If hiking is your desire, you will find picnic areas, picnic shelters, group use areas and hiking trails. There are three developed trails for hikers to choose from, it is a hard decision. The trails ascend from steep bluffs to panoramic views. Buckskin Mountain State Park provides restrooms, handicapped access, and a concession stand.
Water lovers will enjoy the facilities that are offered at the park. You will find a boat launch ramp and a gas dock. The park is a perfect spot for boaters, swimmers, and water skiers. Those who enjoy fishing will discover this is the place to go to drop your line. Largemouth bass, crappie, channel catfish and bluegill can be found swimming in these waters.
Buckskin Mountain State Park is open every day from 8:00 to 10:00. The admission for a private vehicle is $7.00 for weekends and holidays. The charge for a private vehicle is $4.00 for weekdays. Camping fees range from $12.00 to $20.00. If you want more information on this park, you may call 520-667-3231.
You can get to Buckskin Mountain State Park from Parker by taking Highway 95 north out of town for approximately 11 miles. You will see the signs for the park. The park is associated with the River Island Unit, so don’t get confused with the signs.
You will have a great time at this park!
Bill Williams Wildlife Refuge
In 1941, the Bill Williams Wildlife Refuge was established. Since the 90’s, the refuge has been managed and maintained by six state and federal agencies. It is an excellent resource for riparian, wildlife and fisheries.
There are few places in the world where you can see such a diverse assortment of plants and animals. It is possible to stand in one spot and see a saguaro cactus, a cattail stand, and a cottonwood tree. You will be amazed at the variety.
This unique blend of upland desert, marsh and desert riparian habitats provide numerous birds, mammals, and reptiles. Bill Williams Wildlife Refuge is a destination spot you won’t want to miss.
Growing up in Parker, I visited this area many times. It is always a great Arizona adventure. You can get to the refuge by traveling north out of Parker. Just past the Parker Dam, you will see the road east to the Bill Williams Wildlife Refuge.
Parker Dam is known for being one of the deepest dams in the world. The dam creates Lake Havasu to the north and sends water to Southern California and Arizona for Phoenix and Tucson to the south.
The dam at first glance appears to be small, with only 85 feet of the concrete dam revealed above the water top. Yet, sixty-five percent of Parker Dam’s structure is below the Colorado riverbed. It took workers time to dig deep into the riverbed, some 230 feet down.
If you visit Parker Dam, you will want to take the self-guided tour. The tour drops down into the dam in an elevator to the generator room. In the generator room, visitors will see four turbines. You will also see maps and photos at the dam.
Parker Dam is open every day from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. The tour is free. Please make sure you give yourself 30 minutes to see Parker Dam.
You can get to Parker Dam by heading north out of Parker on Highway 95, for approximately 15 miles. The dam is on Highway 95. If you’re coming from Lake Havasu City or Bullhead City, you need to travel south on Highway 95, until you come to the dam.
Alamo Lake State Park
Alamo Lake State Park is a part of a 4,900-acre park, which sits at an elevation of 1.100 feet. It is located on the Bill Williams River about 30 miles before it empties into the Colorado River. “Alamo” means cottonwood in Spanish and the lake definitely lives up to its name. There are cottonwoods even lurking under the waters of the lake. The Rawhide and Buckskin Mountains make a great backdrop to the lake. Alamo Lake is a transition area between the Sonoran and Mohave Deserts.
The lake waters cover the site of Alamo Crossing, which was a mining camp long ago. The camp had a supply store and a post office for prospectors. The post office eventually closed in 1918. The Army Corps of Engineers built Alamo Lake in 1968 as flood control and conservation dam. The dam rises 283 feet above the streambed and backs up a reservoir of water.
Visitors will want to stop in at the Visitor Center, before deciding on the many outdoor activities the lake has to offer. There is outstanding fishing, hiking, wildlife watching, and camping. Swimming is not recommended, due to brush and trees making it hazardous. The Visitor Center also has information about wildlife and the geology of the area.
Even though the lake levels vary, fishing is ideal. The lake has largemouth bass, bluegill, and catfish. The marina store is well stocked for fishermen and boat rentals are available. There is also a boat-launching ramp. Many anglers say that this is one of the best fishing lakes in Arizona.
Those who come to view the wildlife won’t be disappointed. Quail, deer, coyote, burros, squirrels and bald eagles are just some of the animals that make Alamo Lake their home. Large flocks of birds visit the lake because it is the only permanent water for miles around. The bald eagles have a nesting site at the upper part of the lake. Nature lovers will appreciate the area’s representation of unique features of the Sonoran Desert.
Camping is available all year round. There are 250 campsites, which range from underdeveloped tent sites to full RV hook-ups. Campers will find restrooms with flush toilets, a dump station, and hot showers. There are picnic shelters that make the camping experience fun. The cost for a nightly campsite ranges between $8.00 and $10.00 and RV hookup sites are $15.00. No reservations are taken; all campsites are available on a first come first serve basis.
The Visitor Center has varying hours, so please call ahead to find out. The cost of admission to the park is $4.00 per vehicle and $1.00 per individual or bicycle. Visitors can also purchase three other forms of entrance passes for Arizona State Parks. Prices depend on the length of stay. The 5-day visit pass is $15.00, the Limited Day-Use pass is $35.00 and the Unlimited Day-Use pass is $65.00. These passes do not include camping fees. For more information and prices for camping call 520-669-2088.
Those traveling from Salome will take U.S. Highway 60 northeast for a few miles. When you come to the turn off for Alamo Road turn left heading north. Continue along the road, until you reach the lake. You can get to Alamo Lake State Park from Wickenburg by taking State Highway 60 west out of town to the turn off for the lake. The road out to Alamo Lake is 38 miles paved. If you are coming from Phoenix or Tucson take Interstate 17 north out of town. Once you have come to State Highway 74, just outside of Phoenix take it west. When State Highway 74 runs into State Highway 60, take it north to Wickenburg. You will continue through town following State Highway 60 on out heading west. Continue on State Highway 60 out to the turn off for the lake at the town of Wenden. If you are coming from Flagstaff and would like to take a scenic route to Wickenburg, you will take Highway 89A south out of town. You will pass through Sedona, Cottonwood and into Prescott. Once in Prescott take Highway 89 southwest out of town passing through Peeples Valley. When Highway 89 meets State Highway 93 take it south to Wickenburg. Once you are in Wickenburg, you will take State Highway 60 west out of town. You will continue on State Highway 60 out to the turn off for the lake.