McPherson Pass

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4.7/5 (6 reviews)
Quartzsite, Arizona (Yuma County)
Last Updated: 01/07/2023

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  • 15 waypoints
  • 47 photos
  • 4 trail concerns
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McPherson Pass connects the broad King Valley with the very flat Castle Dome Plain by crossing the low but ruggedly beautiful Castle Dome Mountains. The entire trail is inside the remote and sparsely visited Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, the second-largest wilderness area in Arizona. The trail crosses broad scenic valleys, pushes through a sandy wash, and climbs through a majestic mountain pass. The best part of all that is that along the way, you are likely to encounter more desert bighorn sheep than people. The Lower Sonoran Desert of this part of southwestern Arizona receives very little rainfall. That doesn't mean life is not abundant here. Both plants and animals have adapted to the harsh environment. Cacti include the stately saguaros and spindly ocotillo called fire sticks by natives for their bright red flowers, which seem to pop out purely randomly. Several species of cholla cactus call this area home. The teddy bear cholla looks cute, but the spines stick like velcro on steroids and hurt like Hades. Owls, various hawks, doves, and hummingbirds abound. Small mule deer hang close to the few available water sources. Coyote serenades at night are common. But the reclusive desert bighorn sheep reign supreme here. The entire purpose of the Kofa NWR was to preserve habitat for the surefooted mountain denizens. Keep your eyes on the slopes, and you might catch a glimpse of a few of them near McPherson Pass.

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