Directions to Site of Oatman Massacre

Near Gila Bend, Arizona

(Courtesy of Kris Jensen)

Posted March 5, 2001

Updated by Chuck Oatman January, 2004 and revised December 7, 2004.

 I have updated this page following a visit to the site on January 13, 2004.I have verified some of the landmarks, but not the distances. 

On Dec 7/04 I have updated the distances, provided a link to the topographical and aerial map and added links to pictures from my Jan/03 visit.

Get to Gila Bend, AZ. Continue west on Interstate 8 to the Painted Rock exit 102. Go right (north) on a road called Painted Rock Dam Road. The grave is 19.5 miles from here.  Continue to Painted Rock Park. At the park sign, turn left onto Rocky Point Road and drive into the park as if you're going to visit. You will find a second sign on your left to access the campground and Petroglyph site.Do not turn left at this sign.Continue straight on the paved road, which shortly becomes gravel.After 6 miles and one crossing of the dry Gila River, the road makes a right turn in front of Hanson "Oatman" Ranch.As the road curves to the right, make a left turn right into the ranch.The residents do not mind.Dogs may greet you, but you may continue through the yard and down a long, straight road. 

Re-set your trip meter at this point, since I will give the rest of the trip in miles from here.

The first portion of the road is through some irrigated fields.  There is one jog to the left and then to the right about halfway through the first set of fields.  After you have gone 1.1 miles, you will make a left turn at the end of the field.  You pass the end of the field at 1.3 miles.  The road then goes into some slightly hilly area on its way to another set of fields (I call this the "back forty".  The other set of fields start at mile 2.2.   There are hills on your left, but you donít want those.† At mile 2.65, the road makes a sharp right turn.  At 2.7, the main road then makes a left turn.  Don't take that turn!  There is silt in the Gila river ahead.  Keep going straight across the former cotton field, heading for the distant hills. (There are several roads leading across the fields.At mile 3.4 you are at the other side of the fields by the hills.  Turn right and follow the road along the hills, keeping the hills to your left.

At mile 3.3 the field curves to the right.  Keep your eye on the left, and at about 3.6 a small road heads off through some bushes. Take that one. Immediately you should see the  gravesite from the road. †The mapping software says this is 3.65 miles from the entrance to the ranch.  You should park here, since everything is within walking distance.The burial site consists of a pile of rocks surrounded by some steel posts driven into the ground.The Yuma Historical Society erected a bronze plaque in 1954 telling a little story. There appears to be a vertical stone mortared into a pile of rocks on the other end.This may have borne an inscription at some time.When you're ready to go on, take the trail straight ahead along the fence.There will be an opening in the fence that will let you walk through. You'll come to a sign marking this Mormon Trail (1846).

Now follow the path (a very slight trail carved through pretty dense foliage.  Enter into a gully.  The trail is overgrown and difficult to pass.  To help you along someone hung pink tape to mark the way, but it was pretty much faded and shredded when I visited in January, 04.  After less than a hundred yards it'll open up and you're near the base of the cliffs. The trail continues left. After another hundred yards or so you'll notice a rough rampart carved into the mountain at about 30 degree slant. Go to it and walk up.

You are now on the actual Santa Fe Trail.   The rampart must have been part of the trail, but it is rather rough. At the top you'll find a large white cross and some words marking the site.

You made it. Congratulations.  I understand there is also a way to approach from the top of the cliffs by car.  If you know the way, please e-mail me at

In December of 2004, I was kindly directed to aerial photographs of the area available to download from the web.  If you are planning a visit, you should follow these instructions:

Go to and download USA photomaps.  After you have installed the software, click on view, go to Lat/Lon and under Lat Degrees N enter 33.004 and under Lon Degrees W enter -113.159.  Be sure to enter the minuss sign.

Click OK.  You will see a grid on your screen.  Just press the f key to download the topographical map or the aerial photo.  You can toggle between the two by hitting ctl t for topographical map, or ctl p for photo.  You can also use the view, map type with your mouse to switch back and forth.  You can move around the map with the left, right, up and down arrows.  When you see the grey grid instead of you map or photo, just hit the f key again and the blocks will download one at a time.

I think if I were to go back to the site, I would have no problem getting there with this high tech info!  Thanks.  Here is a  picture of the area if it helps.  The white line is the route you take from the entrance to the Hanson "Oatman" Ranch, where you should reset your trip meter.

Good Luck!

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