Arizona Nature February 09, 2017
The 13 Strangest Things To Ever Be Found In The Arizona Desert
Did you hear about that
space capsule found near Casa Grande by DPS officers earlier this week? While it turned out to just be a bit of highway art (a cement mixer painted to look like a deployed space capsule complete with an attached parachute), it’s just one of many strange and unexpected things you’ll find out in Arizona’s deserts. Let’s check out 13 more examples of strange finds.
1. These strange targets or crosses that also sit near Casa Grande.
You’ll find a few of these still sitting out in the desert but there’s no to worry about any shenanigans going on; they are just remnants of the Cold War era. These huge concrete targets were used for satellite calibration starting in 1967 by the National Reconnaissance Program.
2. These strange domes also near Casa Grande.
It seems like there’s just something weird about Casa Grande! You can read more about the mystery behind the Domes of Casa Grande in
our article from 2015
3. There’s also these weird structures that look like massive beehives 15 miles east of Florence.
They may look like some kind of strange alien structure but those are actually beehive coke ovens used to turn coal into a
fuel source called coke
(not to be confused with the soda or drug). They were part of the abandoned mining town of Cochran, which now sits on private property and are inaccessible to the public.
4. This random rock art out in the middle of nowhere.
Sundad had a promising future as a tuberculosis sanatorium in the 1920s but, while plans were made and initial construction began, the center was never built. These days you’ll find the building foundations and some old items scattered around the area meant to be used for construction. However, the most interesting thing you’ll find here is the detailed rock art located all around the property. Stars, flowers, sun rays, the word "Sundad," and plenty of other decorations made from rocks and found materials. It’s difficult to say if it was part of the proposed landscape since little information exists about Sundad but it’s still an interesting find!
5. This tiny church outside of Yuma.
Actually, you’ll find a at least two other tiny churches scattered around Arizona. This one sits a short walk from the banks of the Gila River, just off Route 95. The little chapel fits up to 12 people on six little pews and makes a nice little visit if you’re traveling between Yuma and Quartzsite.
6. A sign stating "Nothing."
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how much of this is still standing because the last time I traveled this road, I was fast asleep. However, it’s likely that massive sign announcing "Nothing" is still standing along with its little abandoned building. See it while you can!
7. The fountain that spews water 562 feet into the air every 15 minutes in the middle of the Sonoran Desert.
One of the strangest sights you wouldn’t expect to see in an arid environment prone to droughts is a cavalier display of 7,000 gallons of water being thrown into the air per minute every 15 minutes. It is also currently the fourth tallest water fountain in the world.
8. The rock murals of artist Roy Purcell.
Found just outside of Chloride in the Cerbat Mountains, these unique and whimsical murals coexist with ancient petroglyphs located nearby.
9. This abandoned Santa Claus destination that dates to the 1940s.
This place sits a short distance from Chloride and you can read more about this place in
our article from 2016
10. The Titan Missile Museum is a one-of-a-kind spot that takes you deep down into a decommissioned missile silo.
This wasn’t the only missile hidden in Arizona’s deserts but it’s the only one you’ll be able to legally visit. All other Titan II silos have been demolished but there are rumors that other silos still exist out in the desert that you can find and explore.
11. This bridge to nowhere in Yuma.
Located just a stone’s throw away from the tiny church mentioned above, this abandoned suspension bridge sits unused and almost forgotten unless you happen to be traveling along Route 95. Built in 1929, it was meant to highway travelers crossing the Gila River but the road was diverted to present-day Route 95.
12. Speaking of bridges, there’s also the infamous swatstika bridge, also near Yuma.
Don’t worry, there was never any plans for a Nazi invasion in Arizona nor was it decorated by an German WWII POWs. Construction on the bridge and the nearby Laguna Dam ran from 1903 to 1908 by the US Bureau of Reclamation, nearly 30 years before the rise of Nazi Germany. The symbol came from
Hindu origins and its relationship to water
, thus ts use on a water dam, and was a prominent symbol used in decoration until the 1940s.
13. This huge triangle sitting near Wittmann north of the White Tank Mountains.
It seems pretty weird but it’s origins come from World War II. At the time, this was an auxiliary airfield used by the Air Force to train for landings, take-offs, and other necessary skills. This particular one sits a couple of miles east of Wittmann but you may find others scattered around the area.
Those were pretty weird, huh? What are some other strange things you’ve see in your travels around our state?
If you want to check out more strange finds around Arizona, be sure to read
13 Bizarre Roadside Attractions In Arizona That Will Make You Do A Double Take.