RVers Feel Welcome
Parker Strip Has Many Parks
By Margie Anderson
RVers, anglers, birders, boaters, and visitors in general: Anybody looking for a getaway with a small-town feel and big-city amenities doesn t have to look further than Parker, Ariz. Although technically Parker is a single square mile, in reality the community stretches along the Colorado River from the town of Parker clear up to Parker dam, and includes 5 miles of gorgeous blue water (moovalya in the Mohave language).
Homes in the area include everything from million-dollar condos to cozy little trailer parks.
The BlueWater Resort and Casino is near the town of Parker, and it sits right on the Colorado River. All of the rooms face the river and have a beautiful view of the water and the mountains.
Inside you ll find slots, poker, bingo, cards, and 24-hour blackjack, as well as a variety of restaurants to suit any taste.
The great thing about the BlueWater is that it s also a fantastic place to bring the kids. Inside the hotel is a three-story water park with several pools and a super water slide. The hotel also has a miniature golf course, a movie theater, and an arcade, as well as boat slips and a swimming beach.
The boating season traditionally runs from Easter weekend through October, and the river is bustling with boats and parties all summer long. There are plenty of public launch ramps all up and down both sides of the river.
Low-Cost To Upscale RV Parks
RVers will really feel welcome in Parker. There are about 30 RV parks along the river, including everything from low-cost state parks to upscale parks for members only. Branson s Resort, Motel, RV, and mobile home park is one of the oldest, and it s worth a stop just to visit with Jeanne Branson, the owner of the park.
Jeanne has had an incredible life, and she can keep you fascinated all day long with stories about her days in the Arctic and adventures with bears. Her place is full of citrus trees and rose bushes that make a comfy home for dozens of rabbits and an incredible number of hummingbirds.
In fact, the Parker area may be one of the best-kept secrets in the birding world. When you visit, don t forget your binoculars. The birding list for the area includes hundreds of species of birds and waterfowl.
Without leaving the marina area of the BlueWater Casino, we saw a pied-billed grebe, blue heron, snowy egret, red-winged blackbirds, western kingbird, coots, and a variety of ducks, gulls, and sparrows. Near the dam we spotted both white and brown pelicans and several hawks.
If you took a deliberate birding trip, there s no telling what you d find.
Fishing All Year
Although the winter months are not traditionally thought of as the time to be on the water, the Parker Bass Club holds tournaments all year long, and they catch plenty of fish in winter. In fact, if you want to fish in peace, the off-season may be the best time to visit.
There aren t many backwater areas along the Parker Strip, but the river offers huge expanses of tules to fish, as well as plenty of rocky shoreline areas, points, and man-made structure. Keith Learn is an avid bass fisherman in Parker, and he says that although August is his favorite month to fish, the cooler months can be really good, too.
Learn does a morning radio show in Parker, on KLPZ AM 1380. On Thursday mornings at about 9:15 he does the weekly fishing report, telling you what they re biting on and where.
No matter what kind of fishing you like to do, you can find something to keep you happy here. There are largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, blue gills, carp, catfish, and stripers.
If you want to catch bass on the Parker Strip, bring along some jigs and worms. Learn says that some of the best baits are Berkley Power Worms (5-1/2-inch) in pumpkinseed and June bug.
For jigs, you ll want some Yamamoto Hula Grubs in brown cinnamon, baby bass (for summer), and black with red flakes. Even in winter there is a lot of grass in the river, and they drag worms and jigs through the grass, and also pitch them into the tules.
They throw a lot of spinnerbaits, too, usually Colorado blades in summer and willow leaf blades in winter. Learn says that small crankbaits do well in winter, too.
One of his buddies has had some pretty good days with a small chartreuse plug with a blue back. And, believe it or not, the topwater bite is good even in winter, so don t forget your poppers.
They also throw plenty of jerk baits and Rat-L-Traps all year long.
Golfing Popular In Parker
Fishing and boating aren t the only attractions in the area. There are several golf courses, including the Emerald Canyon course, which is set right into the rolling hills and has a reputation for being a very challenging course.
You can take Jeep tours into the desert to see ghost towns or wildlife (or both!), and there are several National Wildlife refuges close by, including the Bill Williams River NWR which is just on the other side of the Parker Dam, about 15 miles north of the town of Parker. An hour or so south of Parker is Cibola NWR.
Both of these refuges are excellent places to see wildlife and birds.
The people of Parker are the area s biggest asset. You ll meet a lot of smiling faces, and even total strangers talk to you as if you re an old friend.
You ll find yourself chatting with the people at the next table in any little caf you stop at, and just about everyone you meet is happy to tell you the best places to do whatever it is you want to do.
Parker is about midway between Blythe and Lake Havasu City on Highway 95 on the Arizona side of the Colorado River. From Phoenix you take I-10 to the Vicksburg turn-off and take 72 to the 95.
It s only about 150 miles from Phoenix and 250 miles from Los Angeles. For maps and information, call the Chamber of Commerce at (928) 669-2174 or visit their Web site at www.parkertourism.com.
They ll also be able to give you a list of the big races and other gatherings that are annual events in Parker.