- Published: Tuesday, 29 May 2007 18:00
We stopped by for the day to visit Lake Martinez Recreation Area. This is one of those quiet military campgrounds that you don't hear much about. The campground is part of the Yuma Marine Corps Air Station. The recreation facilities are about 45 minutes North of the Air Station directly on Lake Martinez. The lake is a by-product of the construction of the Imperial Dam on the Colorado River. Martinez lake encompasses several thousand acres of water and marshy shoreline rich with wildlife and vegetation. The 13-acre recreation area is in a prime location on the Northern banks of the lake. This is a wonderful area for fishing, boating, water skiing, hunting, swimming, climbing, hiking, photography, and site-seeing.
At first, I was little surprised tht the campground wasn't full. I visited the area in January, which is the middle of the "snowbird" season the SouthWest. But I soon realized this wasn't neccessarily a destination RV Park, rather a wonderul recreation destination. Partly due to the maximum 3 month stay limit, no monthly rates, no sewer hookups, no laundry facilities, and only 20amp electric, visitors came here for the recreation opportunities and not to settle down for the winter.
Following the directions posted at www.MilitaryCapgrounds.us got us to the campground, but a few of the street names were different. I think I've clarified the directions to make it less confusing to find. The campgound isn't a fancy RV resort and is a little old. The main reason to come here is for the fishing and boating. One of the guests staying in the park had just caught 65 bait fish for Bass fishing. He says catching large-mouth Bass is easy. He recently caught one from the marina dock in less than 20 minutes! They tried to convince me not to write this review of the recreation area, as they didn't want their hidden campground getting popular. Fishing for catfish, bluegill, and crappie is also very good all year round.
While the facilities are old, they've been well kept and even had some recent improvements. There's now 20 RV sites with water and 20amp electric. As mentioned above, there's no sewer hookups and there's NO DUMP at the campground. The campground was made in the days of small travel trailers. Most of the sites only have 12'x26' concrete pads, with a small concrete patio and picnic table. Most of the sites are pretty close together. Larger RV's, especially with slide-outs will have some difficulty getting in and out of the site, and may end up only inches from their neighbor's rig. But there are a few sites that have plenty of room. There's 3 or 4 sites that were previously classified as "primitive", but now have water and 20amp electric also. These few sites are isolated from the rest of the campground. They even have a shade roof over the patio area. One of these sites is out on a pennisula, almost surrounded by the lake. Yet it would require backing your rig in (or out) down a narrow dirt path for about 300'. It's a nice, private site. In addition to the RV/tent sites, there's a small selection of cabins and mobile homes for rent.
|Water/Electric Sites||RV/Camper/Tent Sites|
The entire recreation area is dirt roads. 50% of the sites have a 3 month stay limit, and the other 50% have a 2 week stay limit. A recent change is that they now take reservations. They also have a dry camping area near the entrance to the recreation area. This area overlooks the lake and has room for a dozen or more rigs of any size. Most of the regular campsites are directly on the lake, perhaps with tall vegetation in between. But many of the sites have direct lake access. I saw many campers with their canoe or kayak pulled up on shore directly near their RV.
At first, it was surprising to hear that Winter is the recreatin area's slow season. Again, I was expecting the traditional "snowbird" migration to come here. But after visiting and learning more about the area, I can understand why April to October is the busiest season here. Again, it's for all of the recreational opportunities. I could imagine how much fun it would be for a Marine stationed in Yuma to head out here for a weekend of playing in the water, especially in the middle of an Arizona summer. This partly explains why there's a $1 charge for day use.
Besides the campsites, the recreation area has a swimming beach, picnic pavillion, and BBQ's. They rent paddleboats, canoes, kayaks, and 10hp fishing boats. For only $20 a day, you can take the fishing boat up the Colorado River. There's also a small game room with a pool table, board games, and a television. They also allow launching of personal boats and jet skis from their marina. Despite the small campsites, this is the place to be on a hot Arizona summer weekend!