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Colorado River in California

Traveling east across the Mojave Desert it is refreshing to reach the Colorado River. It forms the eastern boundary of California from just north of Needles south to Yuma, which is just north of the Mexican border.

About ten miles further north of Needles the Colorado River also serves as the border between Nevada and Arizona. North of Needles the rest of Californiaís eastern border is Nevada - the three states - California, Nevada and Arizona come together in an inverted triangle.

On one of these eastern bound trips from Los Angeles I pulled the car off the side of the road, parked, and walked to the edge of the Colorado River. The temperature that summer day was at least 100 F. I was totally unprepared when stepping into the rushing water to find that it was freezing - much too cold for me to submerge. My kids got wet, though, and I was satisfied to watch them splashing.
photo credit Susan Kramer;  Colorado Rive in California
Traveling east across the desert from Los Angeles is one time I canít emphasize enough to carry plenty of water bottles for everyone and for your car, too, in case of trouble.

The combination of wind and heat can really dehydrate. And though we enjoyed viewing and playing a bit at the riverís edge, it was good to turn around and be able to drive back to the coast later.

I suggest that you refuel your car in Needles and get in some air conditioning for a while before continuing your trip.

The route I recommend from Los Angeles across the Mojave Desert to the Colorado River and Needles is Victorville on Rt. 15 north to Barstow, and then east on Rt. 40 all the way to Needles. Victorville to Barstow is about 34 miles, and Barstow to Needles is about 143 miles. My total driving time was about three hours.

Along the way youíll see lots of desert type vegetation spread out, such as Joshua trees and shorter scrub. When you reach the Colorado River the bushes grow denser as you can see in this photo of the Colorado River.

It is remarkable that this round-trip across the state can be completed in one day, while viewing the diversity of Los Angeles and suburbs out to the wide open desert of south-eastern California and the Colorado River.

Traveling around California and reference information

Rand McNally Road Atlas

Article and photo credit of Colorado River - Susan Helene Kramer

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