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Located west of Mojave National Park in Arizona's West Coast Region is Willow Lake, a small western lake that is part of Goose Lake, Topock Marsh, Beal Lake and Topock Bay. All interconnected, these lakes make up a significant outdoor recreation area for Arizona. Activities include fishing, hunting, water skiing, camping, hiking, wildlife viewing, and paddling. With temperatures in the 60's during winter months, Willow Lake is always a great place to enjoy a beautiful, clear blue sky on a pleasant afternoon.
If fishing is what brings you out west, then expect to catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, crappie, and catfish. The fish are most active when the water temperature is in the low 70's, generally in the spring and fall. Catfish (channel, blue, and flathead) are very active in Willow Lake and its surrounding sister lakes during the milder months. If boating is your pleasure, there are boat launches at Topock Marsh northwest of Willow Lake at North Dike, Fivemile Landing (County Road 1), and Catfish Paradise. No wake zones exist in the Fivemile Landing harbor and at the entrance to Taprock Marina.
When visiting Willow Lake, don't miss Havasu National Wildlife Area, one of the last natural stretches of the lower Colorado River. Running through Goose Lake, the wildlife area stretches from Needles, California to Lake Havasu City, Arizona and boasts over 300 miles of shoreline and 20 miles of river. A popular destination in the Havasu Wildlife Area is Topock Gorge, where visitors paddle, float and boat through the gorge. The gorge, which is located 17 miles south of Needles on the Colorado River, offers stunning views of ravines, lava rock pinnacles, arches, and natural totems. Ancient Native American hieroglyphics, which date back hundreds of years, decorate Topock Gorge's rock walls.
The Havasu Wilderness Area offers hiking opportunities without the noise of ATVs or any other type of transportation -- bicycles, horses, and other pack animals are prohibited on all the trails. Remember to carry plenty of water when hiking, as temperatures in the summer regularly climb into the 100's all around Willow Lake. When hiking, watch out for snakes and try to stay on the trail to leave as little impact on the environment as possible.
Other Willow Lake attractions include the Needles Regional Museum, Mitchell Caverns, Mystic Maze, and the Mojave National Preserve. Mitchell Caverns, located within the Mojave National Preserve, 60 miles west of Needles, features beautiful limestone caves with stalactites, stalagmites, flow-stone formations, and more. A 1.5-mile guided hike is offered inside the caves for adventurous travelers hoping for a closer look. Mojave National Preserve, which was created in 1994, encompasses about 1.6 million acres of desert habitat. In addition to awe-inspiring scenery, Mojave offers camping and wildlife watching, including unique animals such as bighorn sheep and desert tortoises. Lastly, don't miss Mystic Maze, a National Wildlife Refuge Archaeological Site located 12 miles south of Needles and just west of Willow Lake. it consists of an unexplained geological maze of several rows of rocks and mounds of dirt in different patterns. The Pipa Aha Macav believe the maze holds special spirtitual significance to the Native Americans.
Lodging is available in campgrounds around Topock Marsh, Goose Lake, and Willow Lake as well as in the town of Needles. Vacation rentals are available at Lake Havasu south of Willow Lake. For a truly western desert experience, head to Willow Lake just east of the great Mojave Desert.
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