Just a little over 20 miles north of Yuma, Az. off state route 24 is the popular “snowbird” area of Senator Wash Recreation Area in Imperial County, Ca. Traveling along S 24 is interesting as there is acre after acre of green vegetables and date trees growing there for as far as the eye can see. Senator Wash is a BLM controlled area and was established to provide a watershed reservoir along the Colorado River for agricultural irrigation purposes. It has the additional benefit of providing a desert oasis recreational area. Located on the California side of the Colorado River, Senator Wash area uses Arizona time. Cell phone coverage is spotty as is internet access. We get 13 local channels on the TV with just our RV antenna and a simple “wingman” attachment. We have a Wilson Antenna booster on the roof of our RV so we have excellent Verizon cell phone coverage and our Millenicom internet connection is usually very strong. There is much to do here: camping, fishing, boating, water skiing, hiking (organized and spontaneous), swimming, wildlife observing, exploring in an ATV, star-gazing, etc., and of course there is “just relaxing”. The weather has been mostly in the 60′s and lows at night in the 40′s. Some windy days but some of the days have been in the 70′s with no wind. Some days the wind kicks the water up into a froth and some days the water is like glass.
Squaw Lake Campground and Boat Ramp–
This is a paved area that allows camping with its own adjacent boat ramp. The area actually appears to be an inlet to the Colorado River resulting in a small lake and easy access from Squaw Lake out on to the Colorado River and many a fisherman uses this access for fishing. The “campground” (looks, for all the world, like a parking lot) has restrooms with flush toilets, pay hot showers, potable water, trash disposal, and picnic tables.
Senator Wash Reservoir Boat Ramp and Day Use Area–
There are two boat ramps at the Senator Wash Recreation Area. One is located in The Squaw Lake Campground area and one is located just passed the Senator Wash South Shore entrance, before the entrance to Squaw Lake. This is a large boat ramp and day use area with flush toilets, a pay phone, potable water, picnic tables, trash disposal and no overnight camping. Though small boats are easily launched from the reservoir shore, large boats fair far better at the designated boat ramps. The two boat ramps lead to two different bodies of water. The Squaw Lake Boat Ramp allows access to both Squaw Lake and the Colorado River but not the Reservoir. The Senator Wash Reservoir Boat Ramp allows access only to the Reservoir with its miles of beaches along the perimeter as well as its island beaches.
Senator Wash South Shore–
The easy to access Senator Wash South Shore (South Mesa) includes a large swath of desert parking/camping above the Reservoir. There is also camping along the water of the South Shore of the Reservoir. A well maintained dirt road leads down to the reservoir shore where camping is allowed and as long as one parks above the high water mark, there’s no worry about flooding (just park the way the other RVs are parked). The price points are different as are the time restrictions for camping up on the desert and camping down along the reservoir shore so check-in with the very helpful campground host or ranger when you arrive.
Senator Wash North Shore–
The North Shore of Senator Wash has some beautiful campsites right on the beach of the reservoir. The somewhat difficult access keeps it crowd free and peaceful. The only “developed” part of the North Shore are the pit toilets, otherwise there are no services. The access features rock strewn, rough, dirt roads and is not recommended for RVs with low clearance though we are quick to point out that every year we have seen an occasional Class A as well as 5th wheels parked on the North Shore. We have explored (on foot) some beautiful campsites on the North Shore and are tempted every winter but know our Emergency Road Service would to be of no help in this remote location should they be needed. Directions are available at the BLM office or from the helpful campground host.