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Agua Caliente Ghost Town, AZ

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Guide 3 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Southwest > Buckeye SW
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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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Distance One Way 1 mile
Trailhead Elevation 208 feet
Elevation Gain 206 feet
Accumulated Gain 208 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 1.69
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Ruins & Historic
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8  2015-03-30
Oatman Massacre / Fourr Cemetery
10  2015-03-30 kingsnake
53  2015-03-30
Oatman-Sundad-Aqua Caliente
27  2015-02-24 kingsnake
29  2015-02-24
Gila River Valley Meander
Author kingsnake
author avatar Guides 83
Routes 182
Photos 7,946
Trips 637 map ( 5,893 miles )
Age 57 Male Gender
Location Sunnyslope, PHX
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb
Sun  6:18am - 6:37pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Culture Nearby
Enjoy the soothing waters
by kingsnake

Agua Caliente, was named for the hot water spring which was used as a spa from pre-European times until the water was drained dry by farmers & ranchers in the late 1940s. I read somewhere that the Indians who massacred the Oatman family stopped here for a relaxing bath with their two young captives, Mary Ann and Olive Oatman. On March 30, 1862, nearby Stanwix Ranch / Stanwix Station, a stop on the Butterfield Overland Stage, was the site of the western-most battle of the Civil War. The California Column, of that war, also stopped at the Agua Caliente hot springs to partake of the soothing waters. The reputation spread, and in 1897 a 22-room spa was built. The spa was used during World War II by the officers (of course) of nearby Camp Horn.

The spa building is still standing, and intact, but it is signed off with "no trespassing" warnings. There is also a large satellite antenna outside. It looks like the grounds are occupied, so best take any pictures from the road. Just southwest of the spa, on the west side of the road, is an intact old stone building, which is fenced off and has metallic screens over the windows. The rest of the Agua Caliente, on the east side of the road, opposite the farm, is free to explore.

The stone buildings of Agua Caliente are all in ruins, with only one small shack still standing. In all, there are the remains of several dozen buildings, some fairly substantial. The largest building, with most of the walls still intact, is about 25 x 50, and surrounded by a curtain wall, either to form a courtyard, or as fortification against Indians and/or bandits. Other than beer bottles, the only identifiable artifacts were a couple of small refrigerators. (The type with a small inner box that serves as a pseudo-freezer.)

On west side of the road, the Pioneer Cemetery has burials from 1880 to at least 2007. More recent burials at the south end, older at the north, nearer the ruins. I found at least one grave that was obviously empty. (Spooky.) Many of the older graves are marked with only a wooden cross, or have no remaining memorial and are now only mounds.

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2015-02-27 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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Agua Caliente Ghost Town
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    Headed out with Stoic to follow up on some previous trips, throwing in the Sundad ghost town / rock art as a side trip.

    First up was the Oatman massacre site. The actual massacre site up on the bluff, not just the memorial down on the very dusty Oatman Flat. Stoic agreed I was not exaggerating about the depth of the dust on the farm access road. Reminder: Cars should park at the Fourr Cemetery, then walk in. The massacre site itself is marked by a stone mound, topped by a cross, next to which is a historical sign. I explained the circumstances of the massacre, and that afterwards the Western Yavapai had supposedly taken the Oatman girls to the Agua Caliente hot springs, pointing out the not-too-far distant Agua Caliente Range of hills. We poked around for a few minutes on top, then headed back to the Stoic's Xterra.

    Sundad has many rock designs on the ground, some I had not spotted on satellite view. I had noticed a few whazzit's on sat view, and on close up inspection, they turned out to be grated mine covered by the BLM's Fun Prevention Police, plus some associated workings. Stoic was surprised when he looked down a shaft, and saw eyes staring up at him. :o (It was an owl.) Details to follow in a new hike description.

    Then it was down to Agua Caliente. I had explored the ruined cabins along the road a few weeks ago, but today we also checked out some ruins further up the very rocky and rather steep hill. Turns out that there was only one identifiable cabin wall on the hill, but many large cairns (as in 4+ feet tall piles of rocks). In fact, from higher up on the hill, we were able to notice something not obvious to the naked, road-level, eye: Large cairns on each of the Agua Caliente Range's summits.

    With 97° predicted for Gila Bend, it was surely that hot further west, and the heat was starting to get to me. Despite drinking plenty of water and lime-cucumber Gatorade (serious!), I was actually feeling a bit woozy. We briefly checked out the various foundations (ghost towns?) along Hyder Rd., before pulling into the lot of the cantina at Dos Palomas. It was closed. As we were headed back to the Xterra, it opened. :y: (The cantina opens at 2:00 p.m.) Though they had a new cinnamon & horchata (serious!) Blue Moon, I opted for a cruddy beer: Tecate. Then another. Then a third. (I was not driving.) Nothing refreshes quite like a bad beer on a hot day. :D (Our total damage for a bottle of tea, three beers and a bag of chips was only $9.75!) Feeling human again, we bid adios to our friendly bartender Carmen. :)

    Oatman / Fourr Video:
    Sundad Video: ... wF4A


    p.s. Stoic said he is going to steal my triplog. :lol:
    Agua Caliente Ghost Town
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    Gila River Valley Meander
    I've been planning this trip for about two years. The basic plan was to: 1) Drive Painted Rock Rd. to the petroglyph site. 2) Drive Rocky Point Rd. / Oatman Rd. to the Fourr Cemetery and Oatman Massacre sites. 3) Back up Oatman Rd., when continue northwest on Rocky Point Rd., then southwest on Hyder Rd. 4) Head south on Ave. 76E / Old Agua Caliente Rd. to the ghost town / pioneer cemetery. 5) Return up Ave. 76E, then continue west on Hyder Rd. checking out the ghost towns of Hyder and Horn. 6) Head south on Ave. 64E to Dateland Army Airfield. 7) Finish the day with a date shake, before heading back to Phoenix at a rush hour avoiding time. :scared:

    Painted Rock Petroglyphs: There are two small hills. The western, larger, hill has very few samples. The eastern, smaller, hill has tons of glyphs. Some so dense you cannot distinguish the symbols. Some more modern, ranging in my view from 1879 to 1954. The indian petroglyphs were mostly on the south side; I wonder if there is some social significance to that, similar to the Navajo having their hogan doors facing east? :-k But you can see pretty much everything there is to see in 30 minutes, an hour at most if you read the entirety of the many info signs. Video: .

    West of Painted Rock, the road becomes gravel, but is a decent, car-drivable, surface. After crossing the bone dry Gila River, where the road Ts, we turned left on Oatman Rd.

    Fourr Cemetery: The Fourr family were pioneers who settled on Oatman Flat in the 1870s, where the father was a rancher and Butterfield Stage agent. Four of their six children born on Oatman Flat are buried in the cemetery. It's very tiny, but well maintained and quite peaceful. Amazingly, there is 4-bar Verizon reception here, perhaps due to the antenna farm on Oatman Mountain. This is as far as you should go without at least AWD. :stop:

    Oatman Memorial: We followed a farm road that had very deep, very fine, dusty surface. I had fun trying to keep my SUV pointing straight ahead as the rear waved back-and-forth. :D After a mile, we got out and walked the rest of the way to what I thought was the massacre site, but which turned out to be the memorial. I hate leaving things incomplete, so I will be back to visit the massacre site, which is on the south bluff of the Gila River, about a quarter mile from the memorial.

    ... Fourr / Oatman Video:

    We returned up the dusty farm road, and Oatman Rd., then I looked for a short cut to Rocky Point Rd. to avoid driving back around the farm. There is no short cut, but I did find a "car farm", with at least four vehicles from the 1930s. Rocky Point Rd., from the farm up to the pass, has a fair amount of gravel, some of it larger, but should still be car drivable: Just go slow to avoid kicking anything up into your oil pan. (Help is a long way away.) From the top of the pass down to Hyder Rd. is smooth sailing, as is the first several miles west on Hyder Rd., which is also dirt.

    Agua Caliente: The Pioneer Cemetery ( ) is still being occasionally used. The most recent burial I saw was 2012, oldest birth of a resident was a husband (b. 1835) and wife (b. 1836). Lots of Conde, Perez and Amabisca family members there. Most of the older graves are unmarked. One was obviously empty! :o After lunch and a quick Nooner -- get your filthy mind out of the gutter, it's a beer! :D -- I checked out the remains of Agua Caliente ( ). There are several intact walls, and many very decayed. I wanted to scope out the spa, but it was plastered with "No Tresspassing" signs, and had a huge satellite dish, so someone was keeping an eye on it. Onward!

    We returned to Hyder Rd. I wanted to stop at what looked like an old motel on Ave. 76E, and also check out the many abandoned buildings in Hyder, but they all had "No Trespassing" signs, and the old motel looked like someone lived on the ground in trailer. :gun: I've no need for bullet holes, so skipped them. I found two abandoned sites just west of Hyder. The first looked like an old motor court, complete with an obvious pool for weary travellers. The second, included a one-pump gas station, and several other foundations. No memorials on Hyder Rd., as there is so little traffic you will probably not see another moving vehicle unless you stop to do some exploring.

    Horn: Quite a few foundations in Horn, and an incredible amount of old bottles, especially green. Many of the bottles were intact, so a I snagged a few. There were also several of what looked like covered mine shafts. There's no mine shafts on the topo, so maybe they were wells, or something else? :-k

    Dateland Army Airfield: I did not realize Camp Horn was so close, or we would have stopped there as well. (Future trip ...) Instead, we turned south for Dateland Army Airfield. It's much larger than I an anticipated, and I had no idea where any remaining buildings would be, so we pretty much walked out to the end of Runway 1/19 (the longest) took a quick look, then headed back to the SUV. A local had seen us, and stopped to chat. He clued us in to one building, which is where they zeroed machineguns. It look like a back stop: Open on one side, with a mound of sand against the opposite wall. Lots of graffiti inside.

    Our tour complete, it was time for date shakes. :y:

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    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To walk/tour
    From Gila Bend ... West 28.0 miles on I-8. Exit 87 at Sentinel. North on Agua Caliente Rd. / 571st Ave. (seriously) for 10.2 miles. Left on Old Agua Caliente Rd. for about a mile. The Pioneer Cemetery will be on your left, while the cabin ruins are on the right across from the farm. The spa is just around the corner.
    page created by kingsnake on Feb 27 2015 8:51 am
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