Swansea Ghost Town, AZ | HikeArizona
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Swansea Ghost Town, AZ

Guide 2 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.3 of 5 
no permit
101 2 0
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Distance One Way 0 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,282 feet
 Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Ruins & Historic
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Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
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7  2022-11-05
Peak 1732 - Swansea Wilderness
4  2017-09-24 gummo
7  2015-08-07 gummo
51  2015-01-14 kingsnake
11  2010-04-15 gummo
8  2009-08-29 gummo
11  2008-07-18 gummo
9  2006-04-22 gummo
author avatar Guides 106
Routes 270
Photos 9,962
Trips 783 map ( 7,174 miles )
Age 61 Male Gender
Location Sunnyslope, PHX
Associated Areas
list map done
Southwest Region
Historical Weather
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Preferred Jan, Dec, Feb, Nov → 8 AM
Sun  7:36am - 6:02pm
Official Route
1 Alternative

Day of the Wolves
by kingsnake

 Likely In-Season!
Swansea is an Arizona-designated archaeological site and is also administered by the BLM. As such, do not remove artifacts or vandalize the ruins. Also, there are *numerous* prospects, shafts, and adits in the area -- some covered for safety, some not -- so beware of falling in holes. Also, there are rusty nails everywhere on the ground, so watch your footing if you wish to avoid lockjaw.

Swansea is a small ghost town in La Paz County in the U.S. state of Arizona. It was settled around 1900 in what was then the Arizona Territory. It served as a mining town as well as a location for processing and smelting the copper ore taken from the nearby mines. The current permanent population is 0, not counting ghosts. In the Arizona Outback, Swansea is void of people in the summer and attracts RVs and campers in the cooler months.

According to signage, there are five designated no-fee camping spots. I found four, of which only one had a latrine. There is a second latrine a half-mile west of town on the road in. Each site has a fire pit, grill, and picnic table (perhaps covered). Bring your own TP!

The information on Wikipedia differs from that of the BLM website, on-the-ground info signs, and several ghost town sites I perused.

The general facts seem to be that there was prospecting in the Swansea area as early as the 1860s, but the town itself was not founded until Newton Evans and Thomas Jefferson Carrigan, associates of William Clark in Jerome, struck out on their own, beginning development in 1904. The new town was called "Signal". A 350-ton capacity furnace was in operation by 1908, and Signal's population peaked at about 500 in 1909.

By then, the general manager was a Welshman named George Mitchell, who re-christened Signal after his hometown of Swansea. Unfortunately, Mitchell spent too much of his capital on construction, and not enough on operations, leaving his debt-laden Clara Consolidated Gold and Copper Mining Company spending 15 cents to extract 12 cents worth of ore. In less than three years, Clara went bankrupt, and Swansea began its decline.

Swansea had once boasted a car dealership, indoor plumbing, and electricity -- things most of the country did not yet have, let alone a place so remote -- but by 1924 even the post office had shut down. Operations petered out, finally ceasing in 1937, with the last holdouts finally leaving in 1943.

In 1971, the movie "Day of the Wolves" filmed its heist training scenes there (and on Planet Ranch).

In 2008, workers fixed up the houses to be more stable.

There is a numbered info sign driving circle, but most HAZards will want to walk it. The "official route" is more of a meander, hitting most of Swansea's major ruins and historical information signs. I advise wandering roughly counter-clockwise, to keep the sun mostly at your back, making for higher quality photo ops.

There are also two arches just west of town: The nearer is tiny, the further out is huge. If you want some AEG to go with your several miles of wandering, climb up to USLM 2797 in the saddle between the two arches.

At a leisurely pace, you will need about six hours to hit all the ruins. With an arch or two, or the USLM, it will be a full day. Get an early start if you are driving from Phoenix. At the speed limit -- and there is none on the dirt road I could tell -- it is about a four-hour drive from Phoenix to Swansea.

Water Sources
None. When Swansea was in operation, they piped in water -- up to 400,000 gallons per day, mostly for operations -- from the Bill Williams River, which is 3.5 miles north.

In spring, Swansea is overran by desert iguanas. Lots of snakes inhabit this area, including speckled rattlesnakes, sidewinders, gopher snakes, coachwhips, and patchnosed snakes. There are signs up that indicate that mountain lions roam the area. Burros are numerous, spending the summer near Bill Williams River, but scattering towards Swansea in the cooler months.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2015-01-15 kingsnake

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

     Permit $$

    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Phoenix, either take US-60 north to Wickenburg, then west to Hope, or take I-10 west to Salome Rd. or Vicksburg Rd. to Hope. Once you are in Hope, head north about 20 miles to Bouse. As you enter Bouse, on your right, you will see a small military display. Just past the display, turn right on Main St. In .25 miles, at the stop sign, turn left on Rayder Ave. In two miles, the road turns to gravel. The road is generally several cars wide, and has a good surface, though wash crossings may have some gravel accumulation. At 8.0 miles, you will cross the CAP canal, arriving at the Midway intersection at 13.0 miles. Split left at Midway. The road becomes a bit rougher and twistier, but still not bad. At 18.7 miles, you will reach a four-way stop sign. Left to Parker (~25 miles); straight to Planet Ranch on the Bill Williams River; right to Swansea. At 23.0 miles, the road will become much twistier, and definitely rockier, as you climb to the top of the pass (24.2 miles) just west of Swansea. At 25.9 miles, you will arrive opposite the first ruins. Cars will wish to be cautious approaching and descending the pass, as the rockfall varies in size. However, the entire route is car drivable. Park wherever you wish.

    The dirt road to Swansea is beautiful and well-marked (at least it was last time Teva Joe was there) with a variety of ocotillo and small cacti.

    The road to Alamo Lake is very rough and not recommended without a 4x4 high clearance vehicle. There is a small road with a sign that indicates that The Bill Williams River is 10 miles away, by road. The road is small and is more conducive to ATV travel, rather than jeep or 4x4 travel.
    page created by gummo on Oct 27 2011 8:58 pm

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