For millennia, the Lower Colorado River divided what is now southwestern Arizona. You could ride alongside the river for a thousand miles, and find only one safe place to cross. At this one point in the Sonoran Desert, the river narrows briefly to channel between rock outcroppings.
Yuma Crossing was named for the Yuman Indians who once regularly passed through here. Later, Spanish explorers, gold hunters, and European settlers traveled through on their way west.
Eventually, the river was dammed, canals were built to control flooding, and water from the Colorado was diverted to quench thirsty crops. Many people benefited at the expense of the river’s ecosystem.
Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area was created to honor the American Indian, Hispanic, and Anglo cultures that thrived around the nexus of this crossing point. Within a few miles of Yuma Crossing, you can go whitewater rafting, play a round of golf, hike a desert trail, try your luck at a casino, and visit an art museum.
Preservation efforts focus on renovating local buildings, including the Hotel Del Sol and Gandolfo Theatre, so they can be used again. Non-native species are being removed and replaced with indigenous plants. The habitats around the East Wetlands are being restored.
As it has been since the dawn of time, Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area is a worthwhile destination.