Park History

History of Buckskin Mountain State Park

Opened & Dedicated October 29, 1967

By Charles R. Eatherly

Governor Jack Williams at the park in 1967

As previously discussed in the history of Lake Havasu, Buckskin Mountain was identified in the Lower Colorado River Land Use Plan as an area to be administered by State Parks. The Parks Board had identified the area as a top priority on its first list of potential park sites. The Community of Parker had strongly supported the creation of a State Park in their area to bring in additional visitors.

On June 1, 1965, the Bureau of Reclamation leased lands along the Colorado River, approximately 12 miles north of Parker, to the State Land Department for park and recreation purposes through Contract No. 14-06-300-1590. The properties were immediately sub-leased by the State Land Department to the State Parks Board. The Contract was for 50 years with the end of the lease to be May 31, 2015. The original lease was canceled on January 18, 1968, and a modified lease was issued to the State Land Department on October 31, 1968. The 1676.56 acres of land covered under the new lease, Contract No. 14-01-0002-0008, were then sub-leased to the Parks Board by the State Land Department. The lease was for 50 years with an ending date of October 30, 2018.

River Island Unit in 1981

Construction of park facilities began in 1965, and John Eager was hired as the first Park Manager. The Park opened for public use and an official dedication was held on October 29, 1967. A concession for a general store with boat gas was added to the Park in 1972. In the mid-1970s, additional cabanas, campsites, and restrooms were developed.

The River Island Market with gas, boat storage, and laundromat was added in the late 1970s. The River Island Unit of Buckskin was developed with a contact station, campground, day use area and restroom in the early 1980s. This Unit is located approximately one and one-quarter miles north and east of Buckskin proper. It also provides shoreline access and a boat ramp to the Colorado River just off State Highway 95.

Buckskin Mountain State Park in 1969

In 1995, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Bureau of Land Management and the State Parks Board changed the Park boundary. The Parks Board relinquished its lease in return for a patent on 907 acres of land that contained the major developments at Buckskin Mountain and River Island.

Buckskin Mountain State Park and its River Island Unit are water based, high intensity, recreation areas along the Colorado River two miles below Parker Dam. The high-intensity recreation use occurs from March through October each year. Then the winter visitors, who are retreating from the cold climate of the North and Midwest States, come and stay for most of the other part of the year.