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Camp Bouse, AZ

Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
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HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,529 feet
Accumulated Gain 100 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 4.5
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Ruins & Historic
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
43  2014-02-09 kingsnake
Author kingsnake
author avatar Guides 94
Routes 218
Photos 8,963
Trips 708 map ( 6,474 miles )
Age 59 Male Gender
Location Sunnyslope, PHX
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb
Sun  5:23am - 7:48pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

Melting eyeballs since 1943
by kingsnake

History: Camp Bouse was one of 12 camps in the American Army's World War Two Desert Training Center (DTC), or California-Arizona Maneuver Area (CAMA). The DTC triangle stretched from Pomona, CA, northeast to Searchlight, NV, southeast to Hyder, AZ, and back to Pomona. At 18,000 square miles, it was the largest military facility in American history. The DTC was activated in April, 1942, and closed in July, 1944. The DTC's primary mission was to train American troops to fight in North Africa.

Camp Bouse was established in the Butler Valley, east of Bouse, AZ, in September, 1943. The location for the top secret Canal Defense Light (CDL) project was chosen as it was the most remote the Army could find. Even 70+ years later, the site is 20 miles from the nearest paved road.

CDLs -- M-3 Grant tanks mounted with 13 million candlepower strobe lights flickering six times per second -- were intended to blind and confuse German troops. Camp Bouse hosted the 9th Armored Group's six CDL battalions -- the 701st, 736th, 738th, 739th, 740th and 748th -- as well as the 526th Armored Infantry Battalion, 150th Station Hospital, 554th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Company and the 166th Quartermaster Battalion.

Warning: Things should be left where you see them, not just because Camp Bouse is a historical site, but because there might still be unexploded ordnance ("bombs"), or UXO, about. Don't pick things up, especially metal ones outside the main post area.

Overview: The Camp Bouse Memorial Park at AZ 72 and Main St. in the middle of the hamlet of Bouse, contains many plaques dedicated to Camp Bouse units. After visiting the park, drop by the Bouse Assay Office a block east on Main St., which doubles as a Camp Bouse museum / souvenir stand. They have many Camp Bouse and World War II artifacts, plus brochures, available. After visiting the park and museum, head out to Camp Bouse, which is a 45-60 minute drive.

Hike: Being essentially a ghost town, Camp Bouse is not a hike, with a defined route, but rather an exploration. If you go on the narrated Bouse Chamber of Commerce tour the second full weekend in February, you will get a lot more information -- especially from the Camp Bouse veterans that are still with us -- but have less time to explore. But that info will provide the context for future exploration, as there is not a whole lot of Camp Bouse info online. It was, after all, top secret. (So top secret that the soldiers were rarely let off post, and then only if escorted by at least two other soldiers to ensure lips were not loosened.)

When you do choose to explore on your own, take a copy of the main post map with you, so you can identify where the remains of the unit areas and facilities are. The main post area is identified as "Camp Bouse" on CalTopo and MyTopo. The entrance from Powerline Rd. is this hike's listed trailhead. (But please park at the indicated parking area, then explore on foot, to preserve any artifacts.)

There was only one building on Camp Bouse -- the hospital -- which was otherwise all tents. Stone surfaced and lined walkways were constructed, some of which remain. There was also a round, bermed, boxing arena. Several water facilities are still identifiable. The fence across post is more recent, not World War II period. There are a few concrete pads. There are historical markers, both signed and constructed of rocks. There is a guest register not far from the chapel; feel free to sign it.

Note that there are old firing ranges -- and possible UXO -- at lat/long 34.04793, -113.758519 and lat/long 34.044694, -113.766802 -- northwest of camp, not far from Powerline Rd.

You might see some oblong rock piles, or oblong holes with rocks scattered around them. Those are the old pit latrines, which were filled in with rocks when Camp Bouse was shut down. Where rocks are scattered it is because scavengers were willing to dig through poo in search of the crate of Colt M1911 .45 semiautomatic pistols rumored to be buried in one. Personally, I'd rather search for the Lost Dutchman.

Check out the Official Route and Triplog.

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

2014-02-11 kingsnake
    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 $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To walk/tour
    There are two routes to Camp Bouse:

    1) From northbound AZ 72 in Bouse, right on Main St., then left on Rayder Ave., which turns into Swansea Rd. as you leave town. At 2.5 miles, by a triangle intersection, the pavement turns to dirt; stay left. Continue on Swansea Rd. to Midway, at the 13.0 mile point. There is an info kiosk and, when I drove by, a port-a-potty. Left at Midway continues to the Swansea ghost town; go right on Powerline Rd. (So named because it parallels a power line all the way to Alamo Lake Rd.) At 22 miles, turn left into the main post area of Camp Bouse. I can vouch for this route being doable by a car, but SUV or truck is recommended.

    2) From Wenden, head north on Alamo Lake Rd., through Cunningham Pass. At 11.1 miles, turn left onto Powerline Rd. Continue on Powerline Rd. until 21.6 miles, then turn tight into Camp Bouse's main post area. I cannot personally vouch for this route, but I have heard other people have done it. There is a gate somewhere along Powerline Rd. (as others have noted); make sure you close it behind you.

    To preserve the area, please park in the designated area by the flag pole, then explore on foot.
    page created by kingsnake on Feb 11 2014 4:56 am
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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