Permits: Because this trail takes you onto the active Barry Goldwater Air Force Range, you will need to pick up a permit before completing the trail. Luckily, one permit covers both the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range and it is free. You can pick up the permits in person during normal business hours at either the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma (928-269-7150) or the Cabeza Prieta N.W.R. headquarters in Ajo (520-387-6483). Permits are also available by mail by filling out this form, attaching a copy of the waiver, your I.D., and a self-addressed envelope. Allow for 2-3 weeks for the mail-in permits. After you get your permits and before you complete the trail, you will have to call or visit a website TO ACTIVATE YOUR PERMITS.
How to get there: From downtown Yuma, head east on I-8 for 12 miles. Take the Fortuna Foothills exit. Turn right and then immediately left to head east on the frontage road. The frontage road will turn right into S. Avenue 15 E. Follow this due south to the end of the road. As the paved road continues right, stay left looking for signs welcoming you to the Barry Goldwater Range. This is the start of the trail ( 32.627114° -114.375440°).
The trail: From the pavement, head south past the Goldwater Range signs. Make sure your permits are valid and activated (see above). That trail remains easy and flat for the first section. Ignore numerous side roads as you head south. After about 1.0 mile, stay to the right across a wash as the trail splits. To the left is an alternate trail to near Fortuna Mine. After the wash, stay left on the most traveled path.
The trail gets bumpier through this section as you navigate numerous wash crossings. Scenery remains relatively flat as the trail climbs through a few small hills. Continue straight at 2.2 miles. For the next mile, you’ll pass through a heavily eroded sections as several roads join from the right. Stay straight.
At 3.6 miles, the trail begins to head east as it turns left and crosses a wash. Stay straight at 4.2 where a trail branches off to the right. The trail gets rougher as it approaches Fortuna Mine. Expect some rock sections at wash crossings. Stay straight again at 6.3 miles where a side trail goes left. You’ll arrive at the main townsite at about 6.8 miles. At this point, the trail splits three ways: to the left is access to most of the ruins, including information kiosks and a guestbook, straight ahead leads past ruins and deeper into the Gila Mountains, to the right is the difficult connection with the rest of El Camino. Stay to the left to access the best ruins. The trail splits again, where you want to stay to the right, and ends at a large open shaft at 7.1 miles. Spend some time exploring the ruins on foot or by vehicle. There is a steep but fun hill climb to the northwest of the kiosk that leads to a large water reservoir and a nice overlook of the mine.
Summary/Trail Ratings: Overall, the trail to Fortuna Mine and back isn’t long or difficult. It is about 14 miles round trip so you can expect to spend 1-2 hours on the trail depending how much you stop. Plan on spending some time walking around the ruins. For a more detailed history of the mine, visit our Fortuna Mine page. As far as difficulty goes, we’ve rated this section of trail a ‘3’ out of ‘10’. There are a few rocky and eroded sections where high clearance is needed but you will be okay with 2WD. If you like this trip and want to further explore the area, connect with El Camino del Diablo at the end of the trail where you will drive an additional 120 miles to Yuma.
Status: Open - Permit req'd | Trail Type: Out & back | Length: 14 miles RT | Approx. Time: 1-2 hours | Traffic: Light | Best Time: Fall-Spring
Visit the historic and abandoned Fortuna gold mine in the Gila Mountains just a few miles outside of Yuma. Explore the numerous mining remnants and consider extending your trip by taking El Camino del Diablo/Devil’s Highway all the way to Ajo.
Page last updated: 1/11/2017