Gallery: Kofa Wildlife Refuge as Ultimate Winter Adventure Destination

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Last I heard, Jackson, Wyoming is enjoying a lovely 10-degree low and taking on an inch or two of fluff during some awfully pleasant snow flurries. They say the skiing's not that great this year, either. So prepare yourself. Corners of the American Sonoran Desert are invoking cliché lyrics to Jimmy Buffet songs at 74 degrees during the day and chilling the bones at night around 45. Those are facts, so pack the bikes and come on down.

As much as a place called a Wildlife Refuge might sound like a less-corny version of a zoo, that couldn't be more wrong. Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in particular is merely 600,000 acres of untouched earth where long dirt roads drive through endlessly scenic volcanic canyons. 80% of the place is designated wilderness, so where the road ends you lace up the boots. Or not. Pitch the tent, unfold the chair, read a book, let the kids dig in the dirt and throw rocks. Bring a frisbee.

At night you don't even need long underwear unless you want it. Here the air is better than tolerable enough to watch the winter moon rise and carry a conversation with your date. Then, as you lay your head down you might notice what nothing sounds like. Parts of Kofa are so distanced from civilization, and the edges of it, that the only things that make noise are you and what you brought. The silence is soothing, refreshing, unimaginable. That's why you should check it out for yourself.

The hiking possibilities are equally immeasurable — pick a peak or choose a canyon, and go. Up high you might find eroded bowls, called tinajas, in the rock that collect rain water and attract elusive bighorn sheep. Or check because there are plenty of a caches in the area. The desolate two-track roads often follow the alluvial fans around the low peaks that they're easy to ride on a mountain bike. There's a good chance the adventure here is only limited by the amount of time you have. Or how comfy you feel just sitting in your camp chair.

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# Jodene 2012-10-22 12:00
Thanks for your wonderful pics! Kofa is my favorite place. Have been camping and 4-wheeling there for over 25 years. Getting ready to go back for a week of camping and exploring next month.
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# Jodene 2012-10-22 12:02
And your meals look really good, too. Gourmet cooking in the middle of nowhere is the ONLY way to go. BTW, took my son to Kofa for his 9th b-day (21 years ago!) and baked him a cake at camp at Palm Canyon. Party was complete with balloons and a hip pack that was loaded with wrapped gifts for camping/hiking.
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Mark Stephens
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# Mark Stephens 2012-11-06 13:17
That's so neat, Jodene. Thanks for checking in.
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