The Arrastra Mountain Wilderness is BLM land that extends into three counties in the state of Arizona. The area covers over one hundred and twenty thousand acres in a widely varied landscape of mountainous peaks, arid rock-strewn deserts, and deep canyons where natural springs form chains of pools. Both the Santa Maria and the Big Sandy Rivers run through part of the wilderness as do the Poachie and Artillery Mountain Ranges. Alamo Lake and Lake Havasu are both located on the western border of the Arrastra Mountain Wilderness, so even though the region may look dry and barren, there's lots of water not too far away.
The Arrastra Mountain Wilderness is more popular for winter hiking than it is for hiking during the summer when the temperatures can soar to over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit.
There are no recognized trails in the wilderness; just a few old vehicle paths and hard to distinguish burro tracks, so most hiking is done over the sand washes. This BLM property is one to venture into if you have a good spirit of adventure and want to explore unmapped and mostly untrodden terrains. While there are no campgrounds for RVs in the wilderness, you will be able to pitch up not too far away at the campgrounds of the Alamo Lake State Park and the Lake Havasu State Park or over to the east in the Prescott National Forest.
Whether you're heading to the Arrastra Mountain Wilderness from Phoenix in the south or from Las Vegas to the north, hit the US 93, and you'll be on the right road. Heading up from Phoenix, it's an almost straight run that will see you on the wilderness border in under two and a half hours. If you've been RV camping up in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area to the west of Las Vegas in Nevada, once you're through the Vegas suburbs and heading towards Boulder City, you'll have another couple of hours on the road to contend with.
The rangers in charge of the Arrastra Mountain Wilderness recommend accessing the area with a four by four vehicle, so the best thing to do is pitch camp at whichever campground you've chosen then set out early the next day for the wilderness. If you're pitching up at the Alamo Lake State Park, you'll find the easiest way into the wilderness is along Palmerita Road, which leads to the Palmerita Ranch, where there is a vehicle parking facility.
There are five different campgrounds to choose from in the Alama Lake State Park that are suitable for RVs, defined by the letters of the alphabet, A, B, C, D, E & F. Campground F has the most amenities with seventeen campsites fitted with water, sewer and electricity hook-ups.
The C Campground is larger and has room to accommodate forty RVs with campsites furnished with water and electricity only. Campground B has forty-two pitches, some with hook-ups and others without. Campgrounds A, D, and E are primitive pitches with no hook-ups.
There are no showers on any of the campgrounds, but all have vault toilets. All five of the campgrounds are open all year round. Reservations are required and can be made online via the Arizona State Parks website here or by calling the number published on the website.
If you headed to the Arrastra Mountain Wilderness during the summer months and the heat was just too much, cool off by reserving a beachfront pitch in Lake Havasu State Park. The campground has over forty campsites that can accommodate even the biggest rigs and are equipped with water and electricity hook-ups.
You might have been out in the wilderness of the Arrastra Mountains, but you won't be deprived of comforts at the Lake Havasu Campground. There are excellent amenities on-site, including flush toilets, showers, and a dump station. All the pitches are furnished with picnic tables, fire rings, and grills, and there's even a kiddie's playground for the kids to run riot in. It'll seem like a waterside paradise after being in the arid landscapes of the Arrastra Mountain Wilderness.
Hiking over the BLM lands of the Arrastra Mountain Wilderness is not a stroll in the park. With no designated trails to follow, you need to be able to find your way around either by using small landmarks or reading a compass. It's not the right sort of place to set out on your own either, as you'll find there's little or no cell phone signal in the event something should go wrong. Go with friends and take more than enough water and food as well as an emergency first aid kit.
In the Arrastra Mountain Wilderness, wildlife is hard to spot, so to be guaranteed to see something head over to the shores of Alamo Lake. There you'll be able to spot a variety of birdlife that includes blue herons and pelicans as well as several types of raptor such as bald and golden eagles. There is also a population of wild burros, so keep an eye out for those cute beasties as they're not always as friendly as they look.
After you've been exploring the rugged terrains of the Arrastra Mountain Wilderness, for a quiet and relaxing spot of fishing, head over to Lake Havasu. The twenty-six-mile long reservoir is one of the best bass fishing spots in the whole of Arizona.
North of the lake near the small town of Topock in the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge is Catfish Paradise. Yes, you guessed right. The waterways and marshlands of the small community are a superb spot for catfish, tilapia, and crappie, as well as the odd bullfrog or two.
One must-see when you're in the Arrastra Mountain Wilderness area is the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City. The early-nineteenth-century, five-arched stone bridge originally spanned the River Thames in London and was bought and transported to Arizona in the late 1960s as a whimsical property development aid.
The bridge now crosses a canal, and next to it is a quaint shopping mall constructed to represent an English Village. Take some souvenir photos there with the shop fronts and the very British red telephone box, and you'll be able to convince anyone you've been RV camping in the UK rather than boondocking in Arizona.
Take a break from the desert sun in the Arrastra Mountain Wilderness and head into the shady cells of the Yuma Territorial Prison Historic State Park. This unique park was once a real prison and remains pretty much the same as it was when in use.
Explore the old cellblocks and the guard's tower before browsing around the exhibits in the museum. It's a fascinating insight into the darker side of Arizona's history.