Short, sweet and scenic -- Palm Canyon is the pawfect place for a quick walk with your pooch! This half-mile trail is the most popular part of the Kofa Wildlife Refuge, a rugged desert preserve just off I-95 near Quartzite, AZ, and the only place in the state where you can find native palm trees. There’s plenty of parking at the trailhead, and camping is permitted for those who want to explore the further surroundings. Careful, though -- the terrain on the seven-mile dirt road to the trailhead is pretty rough, so it might take you longer than you expect to reach your destination.
Seeing California Palms in the middle of the desert might be a little bit jarring, but these ones grew here naturally due to the microclimate in the canyon itself, where the air has more moisture and the sunlight is less harsh. Though these trees are the main draw for visitors, they’re certainly not all that the trail has to offer! Other desert vegetation peeks up from the stark red landscape, including ironwood, barberry, paloverde plants, and flowering cacti. You might also pass some bighorn sheep, or spot several species of native birds. Not only that, but the route has some fabulous views of the distant Chocolate Mountains.
While the trail is rated as difficult, the hike can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it. Most of the walk up to the palms isn’t too taxing, but the last few feet to the canyon itself are quite steep and rocky, and shouldn’t be attempted by less athletic animals. As with most desert preserves, wildlife is a concern -- keep an eye out for snakes and an ear out for coyotes. In terms of amenities, there aren’t any restrooms or water fountains in Kofa Wildlife Preserve. Be sure to bring plenty of water with you! Facilities might be a little limited, but if you two are willing to "ruff" it, a trip to Palm Canyon can be a wonderful way for you and your buddy to spend an afternoon!