Tempe to Dateland via Gila Bend and Painted Rock
329 miles; 8:50am to 4:45pm; 24 May 2004

I haven't kept count, but I've probably driven pass Dateland, Arizona, a dozen times since 1985 without ever stopping. On Monday, 24 May 2004, I took a one-day roadtrip from Tempe to Dateland via Gila Bend and other places. [ directory listing of pictures]

Tempe to Dateland

Leave the Valley of the Sun by driving Loop 101 south to Loop 202 west to I-10 south to northern terminus of AZ Hwy-347. Take AZ Hwy-347 south to the town of Maricopa and go west on AZ Hwy-238 to Gila Bend.

The drive west on AZ Hwy-238 was through harsh desert that made up the Sonoran Desert National Monument. There were numerous off-road trails and even a rest stop.

AZ Hwy-238 had an interesting sequence of signs. The first told us that the road was smooth. Sign number two told us that our car won't rattle. The third sign asked us to please slow down. The last sign warned us to watch for cattle. The "watch for cattle" sign wasn't kidding because AZ Hwy-238 is lined with dead cows.

I took pictures of four dead cows. but I could have taken more. [Warning: These pictures are disgusting.] {dead cow #1} {dead cow #2} {dead cow #3} {dead cow #4}

I guess AZ Hwy-238 could be called death road. [Side-bar: Road side markers are a subject of debate, but they should not result in litter.]

AZ Hwy-238 connects the town of Maricopa with Gila Bend. I stopped to visit the Gila Bend Museum. {inside #1} {inside #2} {inside #3} There is not much to do or see in Gila Bend. Many businesses have gone out of business. I attempted to visit an ostrich ranch for RoadTripAmerica.com, but was told by two different people that it was gone (I did not do the eight mile round-trip on gravel road to confirm this). Someday I'd like to drive old US Hwy-80 between Phoenix and Gila Bend. Gila Bend did offer an opportunity to get an up close view of a moving train. {another view}

Leave Gila Bend west on Sisson Road to Painted Rock Road. Sisson Road starts out paved but dead ends and switches to gravel. The drive to Painted Rock offers many scenic views.

Painted Rock is a pile of rocks that are adorned with petroglyphs. {#1} {#2} {#3} The Painted Rock area was along the Butterfield Trail.

I drove out to Painted Rock Dam knowing that the dam has been closed to the public since 1989 because of a polluted Gila River. This area was home to desert farming thanks to the import of water.

Continue west to visit the Oatman Massacre Site. I opted not to do this because of time considerations.

Continue west/north on Rocky Point Road to Hyder Road to visit Hyder. Continue west/south on Hyder Road and turn south onto Avenue 69E and visit Dateland. Although I'm not a big fan of dates, I decided to try a date shake. I don't know if the milk shake is world famous, but it was a tasty treat.

I arrived at Dateland at 2:15pm and the odometer read 195 miles. The rest of the trip was to travel 134 miles to get home by 5:00pm. [Directions: Take I-8 east to AZ Hwy-84. Drive west/north 5 miles on AZ Hwy-84 to AZ Hwy-347. Go north on AZ Hwy-347 to I-10 and return to Tempe via the 202/101 Loops.]

Dateland to Tempe

I passed a train while driving east on I-8. Shortly after passing the train an off-ramp appeared so I exited the interstate to get a close-up picture of fast moving train. I estimated that the train was going about 60mph. I returned to I-8 and proceeded to pass the train a second time.

At the off-ramp to AZ Hwy-84 I encounter an old motel that had a conductor statue. The entrance onto AZ Hwy-84 offered one last scenic view. A California Zephyr passenger train car was encountered while driving through the town of Maricopa.

I arrived home at 4:45pm after hitting the road at 8:50am. The trip was 329 miles long.


Author: Gerald D. Thurman [gdt@deru.com]
Created: 23 May 2004