Gila Bend, AZ

Gila Bend has been nicknamed the “Crossroads of the Southwest” because the area has been an important transportation route in the settlement and development of the Southwest. It is located near a sharp bend in the Gila River. Gila Bend has been referred to as Big Bend and Rinconada in the past. It is on a desert plain in southwestern Maricopa County near a prehistoric Hohokam Indian village. Since Gila Bend is located on the heavily traveled Highway 85 where it intersects with Interstate 8, the town is a popular overnight stop for people traveling to and from California and Rocky Point, Mexico.


There are hotels and motels in Casa Grande with something for every taste and price range. For more information and a complete list. (Click here for: Rates, availability and reservations online.)

Population / Elevation

Population: 2055
Elevation: 735 feet above sea level
Area: 22.8 square miles



In 1699, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino visited a prehistoric Hohokan Indian village and found the fertile banks of the Gila River had been abandoned by an early Indian tribe called the Opas. These Indians established a rancheria and raised two grain crops annually, using irrigation from the Gila River. The same rancheria was visited by the Spanish Captain Juan Bautista de Anza, commander of the Presidio at Tubac and founder of the City of San Francisco and Father Francisco Tomas Garces in 1774. They named it Pueblo de los Santos Apostales San Simon y Judas. Remnants of early civilizations that inhabited this area are still in evidence. Some of these relics are on display in the town’s museum.

During World War II, the Gila Bend area hosted several secret airfields for training and testing of warplanes and their pilots.

In recent history (December 2006,) Volkswagen of America, Inc., leased 11,900 acres of land about ten miles west of Gila Bend at a cost of $55 million for 25 years on which they plan to develop a new automobile proving ground

Gila Bend is in the process of developing the Gatlin Archeological site, north of town.

Things To Do

  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Exploring
  • Off-roading


  • March - Gila Bend Butterfield Stagecoach Days - for a taste of the Old West with a one-of-a-kind parade, rodeo, and dance. Events include wild horse races, wild cow milking, roping events, calf riding, and steer riding.
  • November - Annual Desert Shrimp Festival - events include cooking contest, eating contest, live entertainment, and vendors.


There are hotels and motels in Casa Grande with something for every taste and price range. For more information and a complete list. (Click here for: Rates, availability and reservations online.)

Camping & RV Parks

For more information, contact:

Gila Bend Chamber of Commerce
644 W. Pima Street
P.O. Box A
Gila Bend, AZ 85337
Phone: 928-683-2255
FAX: 928-683-6430
TDD: 800-367-8939


Resources & Nearby Attractions


Cities & Towns

Parks & Monuments


Recreation & Wilderness Areas

  • The Gila Trail, a major 18th century Arizona thoroughfare, was traveled by Christopher (Kit) Carson, General Stephen W. Kearny, leader of the so-called “Army of the West,” and the Mormon Battalion led by Captain Philip St. George Cooke.
  • Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) is a popular vacation spot south-of-the-border in Mexico. Make sure you have proper documentation for international travel.

Historic & Points of Interest

  • Gila Bend Museum - Remnants of early civilizations that inhabited this basin are still in evidence. Some relics are on display in the town museum.
  • San Lucy, an 1883 Indian village, is to the north on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation.
  • Painted Rocks Campgrounds (west of Gila Bend) has nearly an acre of petroglyphs complete with a winding trail through the huge rock mound. Many of these petroglyphs are from the Hohokam Indians.
  • Painted Rocks Dam is the state’s largest flood control reservoir.





Other DesertUSA Resources
Gem Trails Guides Book
Related Books & Gifts - Trading Post
Desert Rocks, Minerals & Geology Index
Desert Survival Primer
Desert Survival Kit

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