13 Best Things To Do In Gila Bend, Arizona - Updated 2022


Gila Bend is a small town (about 1,800 people) in Arizona that is sure to offer a unique experience, even if you just need to stop for the night. This quaint, retro desert area offers many national and historic sites to explore, as well as some out-of-this-world lodgings. Looking for a one-of-a-kind day trip or a short getaway? Check out our list of the best things to do in Gila Bend, Arizona.

1. Pay your respects at Gila Bend 9/11 Memorial Park

Gila Bend 9/11 Memorial Park
Source: Pexels

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Gila Bend 9/11 Memorial Park is a memorial park in Arizona. Every year, it holds a 9/11 ceremony to honour the men, women, and kids who tragically lost their lives during a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in the US. Basically, this park is built around a steel beam remnant that was recovered from ground zero on September 11, 2001. There are a few picnic spots and seating areas in this park, in case you want to have a picnic while being surrounded by greenery.

Gila Bend 9/11 Memorial Park

Address: Gila Bend 9/11 Memorial Park

Website: Gila Bend 9/11 Memorial Park

Opening hours: 6am - 11pm (daily)

Price: Free

2. Watch a rodeo at Gila Bend Rodeo Grounds

Gila Bend Rodeo Grounds
Source: Pexels

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

If you want to embark on an interesting adventure while in Gila Bend, then you should check out Gila Bend Rodeo Grounds. Located on the outskirts of the city, this spacious rodeo ground is often frequented by locals and tourists alike. If you love rodeo, then Gila Bend Rodeo Grounds should be a must-do activity on your list of things to do here. To know about any upcoming rodeos, you can refer to their website.

Gila Bend Rodeo Grounds

Address: Box A, 1440 E Pima St, Gila Bend, AZ 85337, United States

Website: Gila Bend Rodeo Grounds

3. Enjoy a dip in the swimming pool at Burleson Park

Burleson Park
Source: Pexels

Burleson Park is a spacious park in town that has several sports facilities as well as a swimming pool. If you want to go swimming, consider yourself lucky as Burleson Park features the best public pool in the area. Also, the baseball arena in this park is really great, so you can always go to play some baseball with your family or friends. Apart from that, this park also has picnic tables as well as a grilling area so you can enjoy a fun picnic with your family here.

Burleson Park

Address: 900 N Logan Ave, Gila Bend, AZ 85337, United States

Website: Burleson Park

4. Spend a night at Sonoran Desert RV Park

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Sonoran Desert RV Park on Thursday, December 24, 2020

Sonoran Desert RV Park is an overnight camping park that is located in Sonoran Desert. After a long day of exploring desert, why not spend a night camping under the twinkling stars? A clean and spacious park with a super friendly campgrounds team, Sonoran Desert RV Park is great for a luxurious and relaxed camping trip. With a heated pool, bathhouses, ranch houses as well as a car wash, this park has everything you need and more. Plus, this park has a dog park for your four-legged friend!

Sonoran Desert RV Park

Address: 800 S Butterfield Trail, Gila Bend, AZ 85337, United States

Website: Sonoran Desert RV Park

Opening hours: 11am - 7pm (daily)

Price: From 42 USD

5. Enjoy an authentic Mexican meal at Sofia's Mexican Food

Mexican food
Source: Pexels

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Sofia’s Mexican Food serves some of the best and most authentic Mexican food in town! Everything on the menu is amazing, so you shouldn’t even think twice before you heading to Sofia’s Mexican Food. However, dining at this restaurant is absolutely incomplete without trying their fish taco, shrimp enchilada, and Chile relleno. If you’re in the mood for some fresh and affordable food, this is the place for you.

Sofia's Mexican Food

Address: 530 W Pima St, Gila Bend, AZ 85337, United States

Website: Sofia’s Mexican Food

Opening hours: 7am - 8pm (daily)

6. Treat yourself to a stay at the Space Age Lodge (from USD 82)

If you guessed that this hotel is space-themed, then you guess right. In the lobby the decor and feel is Space-Age retro, though the rooms have been updated to be more modern. There’s even a corresponding family restaurant called Space Age Outer Limits that serves both American and Mexican food.

Best Western Space Age Lodge

Address: 401 East Pima Street

7. Check out some painted rock petroglyphs

Painted Rocks Petroglyphs
Source: Photo by user Shereth used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This ancient archaeological site might make you think of UFOs and aliens. Inscriptions, symbols, and other etchings made by prehistoric people and other historic travelers cover the faces of these large rocks. There is a campground, but they don’t provide water, so bring everything you need; be sure to watch out for rattlesnakes and other poisonous creatures. Since it is an archaeological site, please be respectful by not climbing or marking the rocks.

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site

Address: Rocky Point Rd, Gila Bend, AZ

Price: 8 USD for overnight, or 2 USD for day use

Opening Hours: 9 am to 6 pm. Closed on public holidays.

Access: “Exit Interstate 8 at Painted Rock Dam Road (Exit 102) approximately 12.5 miles (20.1 km) west of Gila Bend. Travel north on Painted Rock Dam Road (paved) 10.7 miles (17.2 km) to Rocky Point Road (unpaved). Painted Rock Petroglyph Site is 0.6 miles (0.96 km) west of Painted Rock Dam Road on Rocky Point Road.” Access map.

Contact: Public Information Center: 602-417-9200; Lower Safford Field Office: 623-580-5500 (Office Hours: 7:30 am–4:15 pm, Monday-Friday)

Website: Painted Rock Petroglyph Site

8. Visit the Gila Bend Museum

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The Gila Bend Museum focuses on the history of Gila Bend, and exhibits some artifacts such as pottery, rocks, and shells, from the ancient Hohokam civilization that lived near the Gila River, the history of the Oatman Massacre and the Butterfield Overland Trail stagecoach, and more. And, on the same street is the 9/11 Memorial Park, which was built in 2013.

Gila Bend Museum

Address: 644 W Pima St. in the Town Office Building

Opening Hours: 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday

Contact: 928-420-1964

Website: Gila Bend Museum 9/11 Memorial Park

9. Tour the Gatlin Archaeological Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

This site was once a major Hohokam trade route, and is a National Historic Landmark. Archaeologists William Walsay and Alfred Johnson excavated the site in 1959 under the order of the Army Corps of Engineers, and discovered 300 acres (121.4 hectares) of land, and some ancient Hohokam platform mounds. At this time, the site is closed for maintenance and repairs.

Gatlin Archaeological Park

Address: Stout, Gila Bend, AZ 85337

Contact: 623-640-2140

Website: Gatlin Archaeological Park

10. Explore the Sonoran Desert National Monument

Sonoran Desert National Monument
Source: Photo by Flickr user Bureau of Land Ma... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

The Sonoran Desert contains over 487,000 acres (~197,081 hectares) of mountains, green valleys, historic trails, wilderness, and the saguaro cactus forest. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities including hiking and horseback riding, camping and stargazing, and some good old fashioned sightseeing — be sure to bring your camera! It is recommended that you visit sometime in October to April, as temperatures in the summer can be extreme. For more information about permits and fees, directions, safety, camping, and other visitor information, please visit their website.

Sonoran Desert National Monument

Price: Free

Opening Hours: Year-round

Access: “From Phoenix to the southern part of the national monument, take I-10 south to I-8. Proceed west on I-8 to Exit 144/Vekol Road and turn south. For information about other access routes, contact BLM” or visit the website.

Contact: 623-580-5500

Website: Sonoran Desert National Monument

11. Walk the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail
Source: Photo by user docentjoyce used under CC BY 2.0

Around the time the Declaration of Independence was signed, Juan Bautista de Anza led over 200 colonists to the San Francisco Bay area to found the first non-native settlement. This historic trail is 1,200 miles (1,931 km) long, and there are three different routes that combine the trail’s history and culture. The Historic Trail allows visitors to experience Spanish Colonial historic sites, the Auto Route takes you close to the route the travelers took on their expedition, and the Anza Recreation Trail is for those who would like to walk, bike, hike, or take a horseback ride. Information for each site varies, so be sure to do your research before visiting.

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

Mailing Address: 333 Bush Street, Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94104

Price: Fees & Passes vary depending on the site

Opening Hours: Operating Hours & Seasons vary depending on the site

Access: Visit the website for maps

Contact: San Francisco administrative office: 415-623-2343

Website: Juan Bautista de Anza National Park website, Juan Bautista de Anza partner website

12. Take in the views from the Gillespie Dam Bridge

Buckeye-Gillespie Dam Bridge-1927-3
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Marine 69-71 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The highway Old U.S. 80 goes right over the Gila River, and of course to go over a river, you need a bridge. The Gillespie Dam Bridge is a historic bridge that links the towns of Gila Bend and Arlington, and was built as a Federal Aid Project in 1927. This bridge is on “both the Arizona State and National Register of Historic Places and is referred to in the Historic American Engineering Record as a significant technological accomplishment in Twentieth Century engineering design and construction,” complete with historical markers. Today, visitors like to stop on the bridge and take in the epic views. Over the river and through the desert, to grandmother’s house we go…

Gillespie Dam Bridge

Access: Old U.S. 80 Highway, south of the Gillespie Dam in Arlington, Arizona

Website: Gillespie Dam Bridge information, Gillespie Dam Bridge historical markers

13. Try your hand at shooting in the public shooting range

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

If you’d like to do some shooting, this shooting range is open to the public; all you need to do is ask the Town Office for access, and present a copy of your ID to the Town Office beforehand. It is unclear if guns are provided.

Gila Bend Public Shooting Range

Address: State Route 238 (Maricopa Road)

Price: Free

Opening Hours: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm daily

Access: Contact the Town Office anytime “Monday through Friday, between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm. If you plan to utilize the facility during the weekend (Saturday and Sunday), contact the Town Office before 4:00 pm on Friday.”

Contact: 928-683-2255

Website: Gila Bend Public Shooting Range

Just around the bend

Though the Space Age Lodge and the painted rock petroglyphs are its most notable attractions, Gila Bend’s parks and trails, deserts and iconic cacti, and other recreational activities only serve to add to its small town charm. If you find yourself around the bend, be sure to stop through and immerse yourself in all Gila Bend has to offer.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Hello, fellow travel enthusiasts! I am a writer who also happens to love travel and history. Travel has allowed me to be open to new experiences and possibilities, past, present, and future; I...Read more

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