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The King - Kofa Wildlife Refuge, Arizona

Once a gold mine in the late 1800's, now a wildlife refuge, Kofa lives up to its name; King of Arizona. Located in the middle of the desert outside of Yuma, the remote location of this refuge naturally limits crowds. To get into the refuge one must navigating a long and horribly rough dirt road into the park.

Running a tight schedule, I only had 12 hours to visit the refuge, which gave me one sunset and one sunrise to photograph. When I planned out this trip I knew I would be racing the clock to pick up my wife and daughter in the morning at the Palm Springs Airport to start our family vacation. What I didn’t plan was how bad the road in and out of the refuge actually was.

Knowing that my car is quite literally my lifeline while in the desert it served as a level of discomfort full knowing I still had an hour-long drive over jagged rocks and sand to get back to the highway while on a time crunch. During the drive I questioned if it was such a wise decision to beat up my car so far away from home, and if the potential risk I was facing was worth it. I almost turned back a few times on the drive.

When I arrived at the camping area I was fortunate enough to have the entire place to myself. It’s an eerie feeling when you are so far removed from civilization in the searing desert heat with no one to help if needed. However, once I made it into the area I wanted to visit, my concerns seemed to wash away as the sheer beauty of the desert landscape captivated me.

Kofa is a photographer’s paradise. The endless compositions from sunrise to sunset truly make this a magnificent place to visit. Looking back, I am grateful that I made the choice to push on and will definitely be back again in the future. In the end I made it out safely and went on to pick the girls up at the airport for some quality time together as a family.

From Landscape