The Sand Tank Mountains and the Indian Chief Smelter, Barry Goldwater Range Arizona


The Sand Tank Mountains are southeast of Gila Bend Arizona on the Barry Goldwater Bombing Range. At least up until the early 2000's public access to these mountains was very
restricted. Permits were required and travelers were given combinations to locks on the gates to the range. When you wanted to visit the area, you drove to a locked gate, opened the lock, and then passed through locking the gate behind you. It was not necessary to exit through the same gate. All of the gates used the same combination, which was changed periodically.

You were restricted how far northward you could venture from the Sand Tank area. If you were not careful, you could wander into live-fire zones. The roads in the mountains were pretty primitive. It was possible to traverse the mountains from Gila Bend on the west to Vekol Road on the east. In the mountains, you could see signs of mining activity, old ranch sites that were operational in the days prior to the range, and prehistoric Indian sites. At least one old cabin was casually maintained for visitors' use.