Following the Anza Trail - Gila Bend to Yuma Pt 4


Gila Bend to Yuma

Named for the big bend in the Gila River, this popular resting spot for travelers sits at a crossroads with Phoenix to the Northeast, Tucson in the East, San Diego to the West, and Mexico in the South. It’s a great place to gas up, grab a bite or spend the night. This part of the route takes you west towards San Diego, on and off of I-8.

11. Organ Pipe National Monument
About 60 miles south of Gila Bend, near the historic community of Ajo and the Mexico Border, this world biosphere reserve is known for having the only Organ Pipe Cactus growing naturally in the United States. The park features a diverse array of flora and fauna, scenic drives, hiking and biking trails, camping, park ranger programs and junior and desert ranger programs. Highlights of this Sonoran desert park include Ajo Mountain Drive, the Arch Rock formation and trail, and nature trail at the Kris Eggle Visitor Center. Call (520) 387-6849 or visit  


Painted Rock Petroglyphs
Painted Rock Petroglyphs

12. Painted Rocks Petroglyph

Site Just west of Gila Bend, you will see a turn-off for Painted Rocks, which is managed under the Bureau of Land Management. Listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, you will see an incredible collection of early petroglyphs etched on a mound of black rocks. The Anza expedition called this site Agua Caliente, named after the hot spring of water. It was here that Anza selected a Native, whom he called Carlos, as Governor of the Cocomaricopa tribe who later traveled with the expedition to solidify peace with the tribe in Yuma. There are RV and camping sites, a shaded picnic area, and interpretive panels covering the Anza Expedition, as well as the Mormon Battalion and Butterfield Overland Mail expeditions who also traveled through this historic corridor. Info: (623) 580-5500

13. Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area
Situated along the Colorado River in Yuma’s historic downtown district, the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area is a popular destination that incorporate the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, Colorado River State Historic Park (formerly the Quartermaster Depot), East Yuma Wetlands, and West Wetlands Park. Prison Hill overlooks the narrows of the Colorado River, where the Anza expedition camped. With the help of Chief Palma and his Yuma Quechan tribe, the expedition safely crossed the river on November 30, 1775.
Learn more on 

Following the Anza Trail Pt 1
Tubac to Tucson Pt 2
Tucson to Casa Grande Pt 3
Gila Bend to Yuma Pt 4 (this page)
Yuma to Borrego Springs Pt 5 

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