Panorama of the Colorado River at Blythe, California. Image credit Gerald Peplow via Shutterstock

Blythe, California

Blythe, California is a city in Riverside County and sits along the California-Arizona border on the Colorado River. Known for its agricultural abundance, the area grows vegetables, cotton, alfalfa, and melon crops. In more recent years, Blythe has also become a popular tourist destination due to its position in the Palo Verde Valley, part of the Colorado River Valley.

Geography and Climate of Blythe

Sunny afternoon view of the public City Hall of Blythe, California
Sunny afternoon view of the public City Hall of Blythe, California. Image credit Matt Gush via Shutterstock

The city of Blythe has an area of roughly 70 square kilometers. It sits in the ecoregion of the Colorado Desert, part of the larger Sonoran Desert region. Nestled in the Palo Verde Valley, the Colorado River runs alongside the town. Blythe is roughly halfway between the major cities of Los Angeles and Phoenix, making it an easily accessible escape.

Blythe has a hot desert climate and experiences particularly warm summers and cool, often mild winters. The warmest season runs from May through September, with July holding the hottest temperatures, averaging a high of 109℉ and a low of 82℉. The coolest months run between November and February. December is usually the coldest month, with a low of around 44.6℉, and a high of 66℉. Due to its desert climate, the average rainfall is low in the area, and Blythe experiences an average annual precipitation amount of roughly four inches.

Population and Economy of Blythe

Aerial View of Downtown Blythe California at Dusk in the Imperial Valley
Aerial View of Downtown Blythe California at Dusk in the Imperial Valley. Image credit Jacob Boomsma via Shutterstock

The population of Blythe is roughly 17,500 as of 2023, which has steadily decreased over the last ten to 20 years. The average age of residents living in Blythe is 35.7 years. Economically, the city of Blythe relies heavily on agriculture and tourism. Winter is the busiest season for visitors, and the population swells significantly at this time of year. Many tourists come for short-term vacations and holidays, but others from colder northern climates migrate here for the entire season to enjoy the warmer weather. Outdoor recreation including sports, camping, and hiking, as well as casinos, resorts, and family attractions, bring in the largest portion of the city’s economy. 

Brief History of Blythe

Afternoon view of historic downtown Blythe, California
Afternoon view of historic downtown Blythe, California. Image credit Matt Gush via Shutterstock

The City of Blythe traces its roots back to the 1870s when the area was first settled by William Calloway and Thomas Henry Blythe. Blythe gained the rights to the waters of the Colorado river within southwestern California, in 1877. The land was later sold to Ed Williams and Frank Murphy in 1904 for farming, and in conjunction with the Hobson brothers, they formed the Palo Verde Land and Water company. In 1916, the California Southern Railroad made its way to Blythe, further connecting it to the surrounding areas. The major highways were not built until the 1970s, and this brought the start of tourist and destination travelers to the region.

Tourist Attractions in and Around Blythe

Palo Verde Valley

Aerial View of east Riverside County at California
Aerial View of east Riverside County, California. Image credit Kit Leong via Shutterstock

The natural landscape and beauty of Blythe are one of the main reasons it has become a popular tourist destination. The Palo Verde Valley and the Colorado River both provide opportunities for recreation and adventure.

During the warmer summer months, watersports are a huge attraction. The river offers impressive whitewater rafting opportunities, as well as kayaking experiences. The valley, on the other hand, is a peaceful oasis of scenic views. Though much of the valley contains crop fields, there are also many opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Parks and Resorts

Colorado River at Blythe, California
Colorado River with RV Park at Blythe, California. Image credit Gerald Peplow via Shutterstock

The Mayflower County Park is a great place to camp, hike, and explore the outdoors. The views are impressive in the daytime, but the stargazing in the evening is also a big draw, as this relatively remote city allows for particularly dark sky viewing. Hidden Beaches River resort is another camping area, for tent or RV camping, located along the riverside. You can park an RV or pitch a tent with a river view.

Another option for nature lovers is Peter McIntyre County Park. This park offers gorgeous riverfront views where visitors can swim, fish, or enjoy boating on the pristine waters.

Aside from camping, there are several other family attractions in Blythe. Check out Todd Park, for lots of playground fun! This kid haven features a splash pad, baseball field, and snack stands.

Arts and Culture

Glyphs on Desert Floor
Blythe Intaglios. Image credit Joy Stein via Shutterstock

Blythe is also known for its arts and culture scene. The area hosts a variety of festivals and events that draw visitors from all over the country. One of the most popular is the Bluegrass Festival, which features bluegrass-style music and live performances from a range of bands and musicians. Blythe also hosts a variety of Arts and Crafts fairs, as well as the Colorado River Fair.

Other cultural attractions include museums and historical sites. One of the most unique things in the region is the Geolythes, or Intaglios found in the Colorado Desert. Nearly 600 markings exist on the ground depicting huge figures and make for an impressive sight.

History lovers can also explore the Palo Verde Historical Museum and Society. The museum highlights artifacts and information about the people of the area and sheds light on the city’s past.

The warm climate and inviting atmosphere of Blythe make it a wonderful city to visit. From scenic views to abundant outdoor recreation opportunities, unique features, and old-world charm, it blends city life and country life perfectly. Whether you are looking for adventure, vacationing with the family, or traveling between Los Angeles and Phoenix, Blythe is a hidden gem for a holiday in the heart of the Colorado River Valley.

  1. Home
  2. Places
  3. Cities
  4. Blythe, California

More in Places