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Yuma Territorial Prison Park

Park History

History of Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park

Sitting on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River, three miles west of the confluence of Colorado and the historic Gila River, stand the ruins of Arizona’s famous Territorial Prison, and a short distance west is the remaining buildings that served as a part of the Yuma Quartermaster’s Depot. Fernando de Alarcon, who accompanied Coronado on his search for the Seven Cities of Cibola, passed this site in 1540. Padre Kino saw the present location of the Prison and the Quartermaster’s Depot in 1683, and Padre Graces established a mission directly across the river and was later killed there by the Indians in 1781.

Yuma began to experience the American westward surge when countless immigrants crossed by ferry from Yuma on their way to the California gold fields in 1849. In 1850, a military post was established at Yuma, and when rich placer gold strikes on the Colorado River precipitated a gold rush in 1858, Yuma experienced a boom. In 1871 Yuma incorporated and became the county seat of Yuma County.

The Territorial Prison was authorized by the Legislature in 1875 and $25,000 was budgeted for the project. The ground was broken on April 28, 1876, and some of the prisoners were pressed into service to build their cells. The first seven inmates moved into the facility on July 1, 1876. The Prison held a variety of law violators, including the legendary stagecoach robber Pearl Hart. The Prison continued in operation for 33 years when, due to overcrowding, all inmates were moved to a new facility in Florence, Arizona.

Since the date of closure, the prison’s facilities have been occupied and used by various groups. After Yuma High School burned, the High School Board rented four structures and used them from 1910 until 1914. The school athletic teams became known as “The Criminals.” The County Hospital utilized the facilities from 1914 until 1923. In 1924, the Southern Pacific Railroad demolished the western one-third of Prison Hill to make way for the new tracks. The Veterans of Foreign Wars leased the guard’s quarters in 1931 and used it as their clubhouse until 1960. Hobos, riding the trains in the 1920s and 1930s, stayed in the cells, and homeless families during the Great Depression lived in the cells.

The first request to preserve the Prison came in the early 1930s, and in 1939 local residents began to raise funds for the renovation of the guard tower and the construction of a museum to be located on the site of the mess hall. The City of Yuma operated the museum and prison area until 1960.

Chairman L. Max Connolly at 2:15 p.m., Sunday, August 11, 1957, called the fourth regular meeting of the Arizona State Parks Board to order in the Stardust Room of the Stardust Hotel in Yuma, Arizona. The first order of business that day was the introduction of Senator Harold Giss as a great friend of the Board and Arizona. Following comments by Senator Giss, the Board was taken to the Territorial Prison with the thought in mind of its becoming a State monument. Mr. Charles Reitz, State Parks Board member and Superintendent of Parks for the City of Yuma, distributed materials to the Board on the Arizona Territorial Prison (1875-1909). Mr. Marcus and Mrs. George, of the Yuma Parks and Recreation Department, escorted the Board members through the museum and cellblocks. Mrs. Clarisa Windsor, the custodian of the museum, welcomed the Board and explained the history of the pieces in the museum.

The City Council and the citizens of Yuma strongly supported the Territorial Prison becoming a State Park. At January 24, 1958, Parks Board Meeting, the Board unanimously agreed to accept the Territorial Prison subject to the resolution of various issues.

On February 6, 1958, the Board agreed that the Territorial Prison would be accepted as a priority and as the first donation from a municipality. Land ownership issues held up the transfer until October 4, 1960, when the City of Yuma sold the Territorial Prison to the Parks Board for one dollar. The Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park opened to the public on a limited basis on January 1, 1961. Clarisa Windsor served as the first park manager.

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Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1939 for the protection of desert bighorn sheep and other native wildlife following a 1936 campaign by the Arizona Boy Scouts.

Originally designated Kofa Game Range, the refuge was managed jointly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management for decades. In 1976, control of the refuge was awarded to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and it was renamed Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.  The refuge’s name was derived from an acronym for one of the area’s most notable mines, the King of Arizona gold mine.

Wilderness Area

Kofa Wilderness

Designated in 1990

547,719 acres

The Wilderness Act of 1964 created the National Wilderness Preservation System “in order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas in the United States, and its possession, leaving no lands designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition…”

Congress designated 547,719 acres or over 80 percent of Kofa National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness through the 1990 Arizona Desert Wilderness Act. Along with the Kofa Wilderness, the New Water Mountains Wilderness was designated at the same time on 24,600 acres on the north boundary of the Kofa Wilderness.

For more information about Kofa Wilderness please visit: wilderness.net

Our Mission

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Our Purpose

Every national wildlife refuge was created for a special purpose. Some were created to protect migratory birds, others to protect threatened or endangered species or unique habitats, while others fulfill another special purpose. Refuges are special places where wildlife comes first. All activities allowed on refuges must be evaluated to make sure each activity will not conflict with the reason the refuge was founded.

Our History

January 25, 1939 – The refuge is established by Executive Order 8039 for the protection of desert bighorn sheep.

February 27, 1976 – The refuge is no longer jointly managed with the Bureau of Land Management and was renamed Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.

November 28, 1990 – Congress designates 547,719 acres of the refuge as wilderness through the 1990 Arizona Desert Wilderness Act.

Other Facilities in this Complex

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is part of the Southwest Arizona National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The refuge complex consists of Cibola, Imperial, and Kofa National Wildlife Refuges.


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Yuma Conservation Garden

Yuma Conservation Garden History

The Yuma Conservation Garden (YCG) is a botanical garden and natural habitat thanks to the vision and dedication shown by founders – Sam Dick, Alton Duke, Frank Deason, and Don McCain .Land was donated to Yuma County at the fairgrounds location by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in the early 1950’s. The area where YCG now sits is managed by the Yuma County Fair Board. In 1989, members of the Yuma and Laguna Natural Resource Conservation Districts (NRCD’s) asked the Fair Board for permission to utilize the duck pond area of the grounds as a botanical garden and outdoor learning center.

A Board of Directors made up of NRCD’s, Fair Board and community members have developed a series of trails, demonstration areas, and lesson plans to utilize the natural setting for education and special events. In January 2001 the Yuma Conservation Garden received 501(c)(3) status. The Garden and education center continues to be a Conservation work in progress. From the rare plant’s Sam Dick originally collected, a wonderful world of Sonoran Desert trees, shrubs, cacti, animals, and birds has developed.

Today, the Yuma Conservation Garden is part of a state-wide network of education centers administered by the State Land Department and recognized by the Arizona Department of Game and Fish as a natural habitat.


Yuma Conservation Garden,

Where Desert Meets Community

Mission: Yuma Conservation Garden provides environmental education encouraging responsible stewardship of our natural resources.

Vision:  Yuma Conservation Garden is a community treasure of Sonoran Desert experience, environmental education, family events, and volunteer opportunities.

Core Values:  Yuma Conservation Garden values our natural resources our community and environmental education that protects and conserves both.

1.      We value the soil, air, and water that sustain life:

2.      We value the natural flora and fauna of the Sonoran desert:

3.      We value responsible economic and agricultural uses of resources:

4.      We value the heritage and diversity of our community:

5.      We value individual and community stewardship of natural resources:

6.      We value education promoting responsible stewardship:

7.      We value activities bringing dessert and community together.

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Z Fun Factory and Waylon’s Water World

As part of our ongoing commitment to our customers, Z fun factory has many activities for you and your family to enjoy. Young or old, couples or friends — our broad selection of action-packed activities is catered to fit the needs of all of our guests. Visit us today and see what we have to offer

Waylon’s Water World is an outdoor water park and is only open during the Summer!



Big Bowl

This unique slide opens up to a huge funnel that will spin you round and round and spit you out.

Get Swirled In The Big Bowl!


Red Racer

The red slide turns your tube into the fastest ship on the seven seas! You can barrel down sharp turns, with hair-raising speed to the calm waters below.

Bring Yours Under Water Camera For This One!


Lazy River

Relax, and let the lazy river drift you away. The 850-foot lazy river is the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day, so grab a beverage or just close your eyes and float in complete aquatic bliss.

Lazy Time


Syd’s Zone

Syd’s Zone is exclusively for kids. It’s a toddler area with “4-Slides”. Pirate adventure land with rope bridges and water cannons designed to get you soaked, but watch out for the 250-gallon water drop!

Make Your Own Memories!

mat racer.jpg

Mat Racer

Race your friends at breakneck speeds down the huge mat racers as water splashes to either side of you soaking your competitor!

Ready, Set, Go!


Toddler Area

There’s a perfect four-slide toddler area for the little pirates in your family, with a separate water filtration system than the rest of the park.

Peace Of Mind!

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West Wetlands Park

The West Wetlands Park is a public park at the northwest edge of Yuma, Arizona. It is located along the Colorado River within the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area. The park opened in December 2002  on 110 acres of city-owned land. It was partially constructed by community volunteers and has been regularly voted Yuma’s best park. The West Wetlands Park is currently managed by the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area Corporation, a non-profit organization, and maintained by the City of Yuma Parks and Recreation Department.


From 1910 to 1970 the area that would become West Wetlands Park was used as the City of Yuma landfill.[12] After the landfill was closed, the deserted unsightly area attracted vagrants and criminals. Periodically fires burned native vegetation along the river allowing invasive species to overtake the habitat. The area became a hazard to local residents, who were cut off from the resources of the river.

In early 1990, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that covering the whole site with 6 to 8 feet of clean fill was required for reuse.[15] The Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area understood that $10 million would be needed and were tasked to design a master plan which would include securing the funds for the clean-up and construction. An implementation team was required to obtain grants and manage the construction of the project.

In September 1999 the master plan was complete when the Heritage Area sponsored a community planning effort to finalize the design of West Wetlands. A part of “Phase 1” occurred a month later when the Yuma Crossing hosted a volunteer day, where 700 volunteers planted 450 trees at the Millennium Tree Grove.


The Yuma West Wetlands park was inhabited by several types of invasive plant species such as the salt cedar tree (Tamarix ramosissima), giant reed (Arundo donax),[51] Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris), and common mullein (Verbascum thapsus).

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Escape Room Yuma


Escape Room Yuma is A fun and real-life interactive game. You’re in a themed room using elements of the room to solve puzzles, find clues, and escape within 60 minutes.


The escape room will be unfamiliar and full of surprises. You will bring nothing in, but the escape room will be filled with useful and sometimes irrelevant objects. You will need to utilize them to win. But be quick, you only have sixty minutes.


The escape room holds many secrets, some simple and superficial, and others secured and hidden away. Your thinking and problem-solving skills will be put to the test, as you calculate your escape.



Two minds are better than one, and no experience brings people closer together than playing games. The escape room is unsolvable by one person, so you and your friends, family, partners, and co-workers will have to work as a team to escape. Hysteria and frustration are guaranteed.


The room is built to create an authentic experience with a fun atmosphere, strict attention to detail, unmatched realism, and a captivating storyline. Every detail in the escape room, whether significant or not, is logical and realistic.

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