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A wash is best described as -- "A narrow, constricting dry bed of an intermittent stream, as at the bottom of a canyon, typically dry but subject to rapid flow during flash flooding." Washes generally flow intermittantly after heavy rains, a feast or famine of water that creates specific plant communities. Roadside water runoff can also create a microhabitat of its own along with potential road and driving hazards.

Desert washes are also called 'xeroriparian habitats' to indicate their relationship with rivers. Like typical rivers, washes are linear, chronically disturbed habitats that concentrate water and nutrients from a large area, and serve as dispersal corridors for plants and animals. The main difference is that washes have surface water for only brief periods, often just for a few hours in a year.

In Arizona, washes do not always have distinct channels. Washes on steeper slopes may have rocky bottoms because the sand and gravel are washed downhill. Where the soil is too thin to support trees, washes may be lined with shrubs. Upland trees are not restricted to washes. Washes are less conspicuous from a distance even though the trees are larger and denser because of the extra water available to them.

Most larger washes are disturbed by vehicle traffic, as is the case around Bouse and Quartzsite witht he Tyson Well Wash. In these areas the wash provides a highway like system to explore for ATV and OHV clubs and groups, Even though some sections may be posted and/or barricaded the general approach most users and owners accept is one respect and consideration of private property. Major flash floods also scour out plants in wash channels, but these events occur only once every few years.


AZ washesBouse Wash is one of the larger eastern-bank dry washes that flows northwest enter the Colorado River in the Lower Colorado River Valley. It is located in La Paz County, extending south of Hope, AZ to approximately 12 miles to approximately 12 miles west of Parker where it goes underground to the Colorado River.

Before the area was settled, native americans were calling it 'Deer Wash' they had a settlement near where the end of the runway at the airport in Bouse is. Not much is left today of their settlement other than holes in rock's, called metate', where they ground their mesquite beans.

Bouse wash is usually bone-dry.
( Note: the No Fishing sign )

The Bouse Wash running in 2011

In 2014, we had two large storms that really got the Wash running

In 2014, we heard the wash was going to run ... I went to Yellowbird. We got the road closed signs up just as it started to run across road.

Within minutes this was Yellowbird with both sections of the Wash running so fast that it pushed substantial amounts of debris down the wash.

These photos over a time span of approx four minutes are a prime example of why you should NEVER cross a flooded roadway

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