After changing travel plans for part of November and December, 2019, we caught up with our original schedule on December 30 at Cattail Cove State Park south of Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Last June we spent a day looking at January-April 2020 and made reservations at Arizona State Parks. Reservations can be made 12 months in advance. As it turned out, because we were behind on reserving, there were a few state parks into which we couldn’t book and a couple in which our stay isn’t as long as we hoped. Arizona continues to be a popular Winter Haven!
Our 10-day stay at Cattail Cove State Park was lovely. The campground is tucked along a cove on Lake Havasu. Mature trees provided shade, which was especially welcomed during the afternoons. The first three days we were in a campground loop where many of the sites were close together. Our last week was scheduled for a site in another loop with more space to each site. The park staff were some of the most attentive who we’ve met over our various state and national park stays. The comfort stations a.k.a restroom and shower buildings were spotless. The grounds were immaculately kept. And, we were greeted by friendly smiles, hellos, and wonderful conversations.
We arrived in the area a day after rainy weather. Beginning with our first day, each morning we were welcomed by prevailing sunshine and bluebird blue skies. Occasionally we would have clouds. Jet contrails criss-crossed the sky by the dozens each day. Often their lingering patterns created a more intense sunset. Overall the stunning colors of the sunset were mutually noteworthy to many fellow campers during evening strolls or hikes. The sunsets treated us to some of the most brilliant that we’ve witnessed since beginning our full-time RVing.
One of the most appealing parts of our Cattail Cove stay were the numerous hiking trails. Getting back into our hiking groove was at the top of our list after an intense six weeks prior to arriving in Arizona. During our stay, we hiked 35 miles over the hilly terrain. Within a 2-5 minute walk we could access two trailheads. The trail nearest the lake had several stretches of sand, reminiscent of hikes along Lake Michigan dunes. The wind off of Lake Havasu could be stiff enough to create white caps.
As for memorable hikes, we joined 43 other people for the state parks First Day Hike on January 1, 2020, led by rangers and park staff. We occasionally paused along the trails where they shared tidbits about the terrain, the habitats, and the history of the area.
The trail that we hiked most often was Whytes Way, which ran closest to Lake Havasu with commanding views of the lake, mountains, and hilly landscape. Occasionally little whiptail lizards would zip across our path and scurry beneath vegetation or into a small hole leading to their homes. There were stretches of the trail that had us trekking through sand, so a good workout for our legs. The outer terminus of this trail was Whytes Retreat on BLM land, complete with a vault toilet and picnic table beneath a ramada for shade. The picnic table was near lake level, serving as a pleasant pause to hear the lapping water and watching waterfowl busily diving for lunch.
Other hikes took us over and around some of the hills. Barrel cacti, saguaro, palo verde, mesquite trees, brittlebush, and buffalo grass were the most popular vegetation.
For a more interesting and lengthier hike, we took Ripley’s Run. We walked through some washes, up some stretches of jagged volcanic rock giving us views over the desert, and rock scrambling through skinnier spaces between walls of the washes. In the sunlight we quickly warmed up, yet once in the shadows of the rock faces we cooled easily.
Several days we also hiked McKinney Loop and Whytes Trail to add more mileage. It was fantastic to get into the fresh air, the stiff breezes off of the lake, and clear our minds of a busy stretch in November and December.
Overall, we will recall the contrasts between the desert and lake along Whytes Trail. The entire hiking system was pretty solitary and one can see why mountain lions might enjoy this area. Despite the solitude, we occasionally met fellow hikers, all of us commenting on the beauty. On one late afternoon hike with sunset quickly approaching, we came upon two hikers, who we sensed appreciated us buddying up with them to lend our assistance with one of our trekking poles and taking the remainder of the trail at their pace until all were back to the trailhead.
Yes, we had our share of “town days” in Lake Havasu City for laundry, truck/trailer wash, refilling L.P., taking our recycling to the Republic Services community recycling station, making new acquaintances at a local Starbucks, grocery shopping, and taking in London Bridge, to name a few.
Thank you Cattail Cove State Park and Lake Havasu City for making such an enjoyable stay!