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Old 04-04-2015, 01:07 AM   #1
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Painted Rock campground in AZ

I searched and never found a thread for this place, so I thought I would make a report on it. This cg is just about 12 miles off I-8 in AZ, just a few miles west of Gila Bend. It has its own Painted Rock exit off the interstate, and has a paved road to its entrance. It has a camp host in the cool months, please don't go there in the summer, as it will be way too hot. The only amenity the cg offers is a level campsite. No hookups, no water. It does have a pit toilet. If you are looking for luxury, this is not for you. If you desire peace, solitude and quiet nights, this will fill your bill. It is literally in the middle of nowhere. $8 per day, stay until you run out of water!

The cg is named for the unusual pile of rocks that have been used by the locals for 10,000 years to carve petroglyphs upon. I love historical things like this. The road on its north border is part of the de Anza National Trail, used by Juan Bautista de Anza on his journey from Mexico to northern California in 1774, where he founded San Francisco, to try and keep northern Cali for Spain. A few miles west of here is where the Oatman family was massacred by locals in 1851 on their way to California. Olive Oatman, age 14, was kidnapped and lived with the locals for five years before being released back to white society. They tattooed her face, and that is who the Eva character in AMC's "Hell On Wheels" is based. There are also remnants of the Butterfield Overland Stage trail nearby. This is also where the Gila River used to freely flow, before all the irrigation dried it up. Anyway, it's an interesting and quiet way to spend a few days and get away from the interstate. Here are a couple shots showing my rig camped, right next to the Painted Rocks, and a shot from the rocks showing the campsites. Like I said, lots of elbow room.

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Old 04-04-2015, 01:17 AM   #2
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[/URL][/IMG]
[/URL][/IMG]
[/URL][/IMG]

Here are some photos showing a old pioneer dwelling on a nearby farm, and some of the Painted Rocks.
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Old 04-04-2015, 01:24 AM   #3
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Here is Oatman Mtn in the background.
[/URL][/IMG]

The view off the hanglider launch on top of Oatman Mt. A pretty barren landscape.
[/URL][/IMG]

The road going up Oatman Mtn., the most poorly maintained pavement in AZ! The campgrd is on the far side of the green agricultural fields.
[/URL][/IMG]
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Old 04-04-2015, 09:10 AM   #4
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Thanks for the info. I hiked the butterfield trail years ago and have always wanted to return. That looks like a great spot to camp.....in the winter only!!! I would say Nov - March Only. Agree?
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:44 AM   #5
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Yes that sounds about right. You could go in Oct or April if you get a cool spell in there. About the same season as the Glamis dunes, which are about 120 miles west. This definitely is not a destination cg, but a nice, inexpensive stopover between Cali and points east.

This cg used to be a state facility, there is the Painted Rock Dam nearby that would attract a lot of anglers. Around 1989 the state determined the lake was too polluted because of the ag runoff, so the state closed access to the lake and granted the cg back to BLM control.

There are a lot of interesting OHV trails in the area, and it seems like the BLM could develop this and attract more visitors for that purpose. Or just keep it a relative secret for locals like me!
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Old 06-07-2015, 03:52 PM   #6
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I just thought I would update this thread. The spring was so nice here in AZ so I was able to get back to Painted Rock in May, and was able to locate the Oatman historical sites. They are really hard to find. Here is the site of the massacre, up on a bluff above the Gila River, with Oatman Mtn. in the background.

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Here is the burial plot. It is on the edge of some farmland close to the river.

[/URL][/IMG]

Here is a classic Arizona photo from that area, this is called Montezuma's Head Mountain, framed between a mature stand of saguaros.

[/URL][/IMG]
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Old 09-25-2015, 03:28 AM   #7
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Love the pics!!! Definately want to check this area out!! I love history too!!
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Old 09-25-2015, 03:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffAZ View Post
Here is Oatman Mtn in the background.
[/URL][/IMG]

The view off the hanglider launch on top of Oatman Mt. A pretty barren landscape.
[/URL][/IMG]

The road going up Oatman Mtn., the most poorly maintained pavement in AZ! The campgrd is on the far side of the green agricultural fields.
[/URL][/IMG]
So is this you looking back twards your campsite? Or is this u in the Zmh going there? Lol
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Old 09-25-2015, 03:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffAZ View Post
I searched and never found a thread for this place, so I thought I would make a report on it. This cg is just about 12 miles off I-8 in AZ, just a few miles west of Gila Bend. It has its own Painted Rock exit off the interstate, and has a paved road to its entrance. It has a camp host in the cool months, please don't go there in the summer, as it will be way too hot. The only amenity the cg offers is a level campsite. No hookups, no water. It does have a pit toilet. If you are looking for luxury, this is not for you. If you desire peace, solitude and quiet nights, this will fill your bill. It is literally in the middle of nowhere. $8 per day, stay until you run out of water!

The cg is named for the unusual pile of rocks that have been used by the locals for 10,000 years to carve petroglyphs upon. I love historical things like this. The road on its north border is part of the de Anza National Trail, used by Juan Bautista de Anza on his journey from Mexico to northern California in 1774, where he founded San Francisco, to try and keep northern Cali for Spain. A few miles west of here is where the Oatman family was massacred by locals in 1851 on their way to California. Olive Oatman, age 14, was kidnapped and lived with the locals for five years before being released back to white society. They tattooed her face, and that is who the Eva character in AMC's "Hell On Wheels" is based. There are also remnants of the Butterfield Overland Stage trail nearby. This is also where the Gila River used to freely flow, before all the irrigation dried it up. Anyway, it's an interesting and quiet way to spend a few days and get away from the interstate. Here are a couple shots showing my rig camped, right next to the Painted Rocks, and a shot from the rocks showing the campsites. Like I said, lots of elbow room.

[/URL][/IMG]
[/URL][/IMG]
Windy out there with no shelter around?
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Old 09-25-2015, 10:03 AM   #10
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No, I wouldn't call this place windy. Been there 3 times without any wind problems. Didn't get my umbrella blown over at all.

That bad "road" goes up Oatman Mtn., fun on an ATV. Next door is another mtn with an access road that is blockaded at the base. Apparently it is a unmanned DOD communications facility. It would be fun to ride up there, but I'm afraid I would be quickly visited by some black helicopters!
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Old 09-25-2015, 10:12 AM   #11
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Very cool area, been there several times. Kit Fox's are an evening visitor, really great photo OP's. Good sized sites with fire pits and usually several friendly campers around. Lots of 4x4 and atv adventures.

LEN
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Old 09-25-2015, 10:25 AM   #12
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Thanks Jeff. I'm adding this to my must see list next winter AZ trip.
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Old 09-25-2015, 10:30 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OLYLEN View Post
Very cool area, been there several times. Kit Fox's are an evening visitor, really great photo OP's. Good sized sites with fire pits and usually several friendly campers around. Lots of 4x4 and atv adventures.

LEN
I did catch a fleeting glimpse of some critter one evening near my camp just after sunset, but I wasn't sure what it was, must have been your fox.
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Old 02-22-2016, 01:55 PM   #14
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Just found this thread. Sounds like just what we are looking for to get off the interstate for a couple of days and do some exploring on the way to Yuma. Thanks for posting this!!
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