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The Best Things To Do In Gila Bend, Arizona

things to do in gila bend arizona
Devin
Devin
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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. Whether you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind day trip or a short getaway, Gila Bend is sure to surprise you.

1. Treat yourself to a stay at the Space Age Lodge (143.99 USD)

things to do in gila bend arizona | treat yourself to a stay at the space age lodge

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 E Pima, Gila Bend, AZ 85337 (see map)

Price: 143.99 USD

Contact: 928-683-2273

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US

2. Check out some painted rock petroglyphs

things to do in gila bend arizona | check out some painted rock petroglyphs
Source: Wikimedia

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

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US

3. Visit the Gila Bend Museum

things to do in gila bend arizona | visit the gila bend museum

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

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US

4. Tour the Gatlin Archaeological Park

things to do in gila bend arizona | tour the gatlin archaeological park

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

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US

5. Explore the Sonoran Desert National Monument

explore the sonoran desert national monument

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

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US

6. Walk the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

Anza Historic Trail

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

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US

7. Take in the views from the Gillespie Dam Bridge

take in the views from the gillespie dam bridge

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

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US

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

try your hand at shooting in the public shooting range

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

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Gila Bend, Southern Arizona, US

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.

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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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