8011 to Papago Indian Chief Mine

Total Miles


893.39 ft


3 Hours

Technical Rating



Best Time

Spring, Fall, Winter

Trail Overview

This desert trail takes you deep into the heart of the Sonoran National Monument. As you exit I8 at Bighorn Station, you can explore the abandoned gas station and homestead before heading deeper into the desert. Along this rollercoaster of a trail, you'll cross several washes with moderate to steep descends and ascends. The rest of the road takes you up and down the hills and through the washes. The road is rocky and unmaintained with a rut here and there, but it should be easy enough for any full-sized 4x4 with some clearance. The payoff at the end is a very cool old smelter at the abandoned Papago Indian Chief mine. If you'd like to see a video of this trail before you go out, search for my video on YouTube with the mine's name. There is nothing further south from the mine as you are very close to the border of the Barry Goldwater range. There are two other decent side trips that can be done, but ultimately this is an out-and-back trail. I explored the east trail below Maricopa Peak and discovered that it is only accessible to 50" and under unless you're really into adding pinstripes.

Photos of 8011 to Papago Indian Chief Mine

8011 to Papago Indian Chief Mine
8011 to Papago Indian Chief Mine


There is only one wash about mid-trail with a steep ledge that gave a bit of a 3-wheel pucker for my unlifted 2 door Jeep Wrangler on the way out and gives this trail it's rating. Take a look at the photo to see if this ledge is too much for your rig.


This area has a lot of mining history, Papago Indian history, and ranching history. You could spend a lifetime out here exploring. Make it a long life: take lots of water, shade, and an emergency beacon. There is not cell and this area is known as an immigrant highway.

Technical Rating


Status Reports

Matt Worthington
May 20, 2024
2021 Toyota 4Runner
Daniel M
Mar 23, 2024
Michael Johnson
Dec 31, 2023
2022 Honda CRF250RX
Lots of sand and washes in this area. Trails are all mostly easy double track good for jeeps and quads. Lots of brush, pinstriping on the bigger trucks.
Chris L
Nov 04, 2023

Access Description

The easiest access is from I8 Eastbound but you can cut across the median from I8 Westbound. Markings are very limited, but from Eastbound you'll see the abandoned "Buckhorn Station" which is marked on Google.

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