When most people who don’t live in Yuma say they are going to the river at Yuma or they are going to Martinez they mean they plan to spend some time on the Imperial Division of the Colorado River. Technically Imperial Reservoir, but its more river than reservoir. This section stretches from Imperial Dam to Palo Verde Dam. A distance of about 100 miles. It is “the river” or rather part of it, and it does include Martinez Lake, but Martinez Lake is only part of it. Two other decent size side water lakes also exist in the stretch of river. Ferguson Lake and Squaw lake. There are also dozens of other back waters along the river. Many of which have their own interesting names like Rooster Comb, Turners Crappie Hole, Bee Hive, Face Lake, and more. Some because of people of the area, and others because of some local feature or in some cases a feature that no longer exists. Many backwaters are inaccessible, and others are only accessible when the water is at a certain level. Some can only be accessed with a bit of a hike. You can spend entire summers exploring the river and you will never know it all. On top of its variety of waters and waterways its always changing.
The most popular places to launch on this section of the Colorado River “near” Yuma are:
- Fisher’s Landing – private but free to launch and park.
- Hidden Shores – BLM leased to a private company, and expensive to launch.
- Squaw Lake – BLM public campgrounds with nice facilities and probably the nicest ramp. Mid price to launch.
- Martinez Lake – Free to launch with okay ramp, but not much in the way of parking.
- In addition, there is a launch at the day use park at Meers Point. I believe its free to launch, but its day use ONLY.
- There is a private launch at the Imperial Rod & Gun Club cabin in Ferguson Lake. I don’t know anything else about that one.
- Further upriver there is a launch at Picacho. Again I don’t know much about that. I have been there by river, but never driven there.
- A little further north is a launch ramp in Taylor Lake. From the water side there is still a narrow channel from the paved ramp out into the lake. I have heard the road in is a 2wd capable (for a good driver), but pretty rough.
- There are other launches further north including Walter’s Camp and a couple in the Blythe area, but those are not really the “Yuma Area” anymore.
During low water (usually in winter) many people fishing out of “Yuma” don’t venture much further upriver than Ferguson Lake, but with the right boat or just a little more water you can explore quite a bit further. Some people do make the run all the way to or from Blythe, but not many and only when there is plenty of water flowing in the river.