CIBOLA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Cibola NWR is located in the floodplain of the lower Colorado River and surrounded by a fringe of desert ridges and washes. The refuge encompasses both the historic Colorado River channel as well as a channelized portion constructed in the late 1960's. Along with these main waterbodies, several important backwaters are home to many wildlife species that reside in this portion of the Sonoran Desert. Because of the river's life sustaining water, wildlife here survive in an environment that reaches 120 degrees in the summer and receives an average of only 2 inches of rain per year. We invite you to visit and enjoy the many wildlife-oriented activities the refuge has to offer and enjoy the scenic beauty of this oasis in the desert.
Over 288 species of birds have been found on Cibola NWR, including many species of migratory songbirds, Gambel's quail, roadrunners, mourning and white-winged doves, phainopepla, greater sandhill cranes, Canada and snow geese, Vermillion flycatchers, grosbeaks and many more. The bald eagle, southwestern willow flycatcher and Yuma clapper rail are among the endangered birds that use Cibola NWR. Other listed species include the desert tortoise, razorback sucker, bonytail chub, and desert pupfish. t is not uncommon to see desert mule deer, bobcat, and coyotes on the refuge, particularly while driving the auto tour loop in the early morning or evening. About 85% of Arizona's wintering goose population resides on Cibola NWR.
A host of species reside on the refuge year-around. Many of the aquatic birds nest in the backwaters of the river. It is a common sight to see western and Clark's grebe young riding on their parents' back in Cibola Lake during the spring. Other common sights may include a heron and egret rookery, nesting mourning and white-winged doves, barn owls, burrowing owls, kestrels, white-faced ibis and more.
For centuries, Cibola was part of the ancestral and traditional home of the Yuma Tribes of the Colorado River, principally the Mohave and Quechan. Archeologist refger to the prehistoric Yumans as the "Patayan". The peopel farmed the river floodplain, which flooded annually depositing rich soils for crops. Following each harvest, the people left the river to hunt and gather wild plants in the neighboring desert uplands, returning to the river once again to plant crops, after the spring floods had subsided. Because of the annual flooding, little physical evidence of their dispersed villages has survived.
In the 1800s, Colorado River steamers plied the river with staples of food and supplies to the small regional settlements of farmers, ranchers, and miners. The origin of the name Cibola is unknown, but is is probably derived from the steamboat landing and community of Cibola where the stamers unloaded freight and took on wood for their boilers.