Tommy J. DeBardeleben

Painted Rock Dam Road/Painted Rock Reservoir

Fast Flight Facts

Target Species:  Waterbirds if Painted Rock Reservoir has water

Elevation: 700'

Habitat:  Road goes through ag. fields and desert to reservoir

Overall Birding Rating: 1

Difficulty: 1 (Easy)

Birding Type: Stopping and Scanning, Car Birding

Facilities:  None

Fees/Ownership:  None/ U.S. Corps

Closest Town or City/How far from Phoenix:  Buckeye /60 miles southwest of Phoenix

Getting there:  Reached by taking Painted Rock Road north from I-8

Overview:  Painted Rock Road is a fifteen mile route that will take the birder through good agricultural habitat, open desert, desert canyons, and eventually leading to Painted Rock Reservoir.  However, Painted Rock Reservoir is only limited access and can be viewable from the road's end.  This area is owned by the U.S. Corps and trespassing is strongly prohibited in the area.  The famous Painted Rock Dam was the real attraction here.  In the past, birders were able to access the area behind the dam.  When the dam had water, incredible rarities showed up at the dam in numbers.  Because of the area being closed, birders now only have the reservoir at a distant view to scope.  The reservoir is often dry at times.  When it has water however, it can be scoped from the road where birds may be on the water in good abundance when the lake has good water levels.  This is often a good spot to observe American White Pelicans.  A petroglyph park and campground are both also along Painted Rock Dam Road.  Whether the lake is dry or not, this road will have good birding opportunities whether birding along the desert habitat or the agricultural fields.

Birding Tip:  Birding this area is seasonal, winter is your best bet for seeing different birds in the agricultural fields.  The desert areas will hold good desert birding.  Bring a scope to scan Painted Rock Reservoir once reaching the end of Painted Rock Dam Road.

Directions:  From the I-10 west (Papago Freeway), take the Highway 85 exit south.  Head south on Highway 85 for 37 miles toward Gila Bend.  Then take I-8 toward San Diego for 13 miles to the Painted Rock Dam Road exit (exit 102).  Take Painted Rock Dam Road 15 miles north and bird at different stops along the way (the campground is at 11 miles). 


Painted Rock Dam Road/Painted Rock Reservoir Maps

Painted Rock Dam eBird Data


Scenes and Sights from Painted Rock Road/Painted Rock Reservoir:

Painted Rock Reservoir-dry a lot of the time..

Painted Rock Dam Road has good desert and agricultural habitats along the way..


Birdlife of Painted Rock Road/Painted Rock Reservoir:

Red-tailed Hawk


Back to Area 8-Arlington to Gila Bend

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