The Wildlife Refuge
After Parker Dam, AZ 95
turns due east for a while and winds above several rocky coves, passing some exclusive new property developments then drops down towards the estuarine mouth of the river. Where it meets Lake Havasu the land is quite level, with large areas of reeds, grasses and mud flats - perfect waterfowl habitat. There is a good overlook of the whole site just after the bridge, and a gravel road follows south of the river for 3 miles, initially up and down several steep ravines then across flatter ground, and has views over the cottonwood and willow-filled valley and the dark, twisted, metamorphic rocks at either side. Floods in 1993 washed out the last few miles but there is still plenty to see. The only other access is to the middle section, via the Swansea Mine Road
that starts from AZ 72 in the south and leads to the Swansea Wilderness, in which is found one of the best preserved ghost towns in the state. Several other dirt tracks branch off, ending near to different parts of the river.
Approach to the Upper Canyon
The Bill Williams River begins at Alamo Reservoir
, 25 miles due east of the end of the track into the National Wildlife Refuge, but 108 miles away by paved road; the route is along AZ 95, AZ 72, US 60 and finally the Alamo Lake Road, which leaves US 60 at Wenden, crosses the Harcuvar Mountains and the Butler Valley, rounds the edge of the Buckskin Mountains then descends towards the reservoir. A day use fee of $7 (2023) is required as this area is within state park. The main road leads directly to the dam at the southwest corner of the reservoir, below which the river begins, and although the last section is private, blocked by a gate with no trespassing sign, foot traffic is allowed. A hike down the canyon
can last from two hours to two days.