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Library > Fact Sheets > Visiting the Barry M. Goldwater Range


Posted 2/20/2015 Printable Fact Sheet
56 RMO vehicle Area B BMGR
A 56th Range Management Office vehicle prepares to descend a steep grade south of Hat Mountain at the Area B Public Use Area of the Barry M. Goldwater Range in southwestern Arizona on 27 August 2013.
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Several agencies share a permitting process for visiting the publicly-accessible portions of the Barry M. Goldwater Range (BMGR) and neighboring public lands. 
  • The US Air Force schedules military use and controls public access within the eastern 1.05 million acres of the BMGR, known as BMGR East.
  • The US Marine Corps schedules military use and controls public access within the western portion (nearly 700,000 acres) of the BMGR, known as BMGR West.
  • The Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Although there is military use of the overlying airspace, the refuge's primary management objective is the protection of wildlife and the Sonoran Desert ecosystem.
  • The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages the Sonoran Desert National Monument (SDNM) which is adjacent to BMGR East. Area A of the SDNM was formerly part of BMGR; therefore, visitors may encounter remnants of military training.
Without exception, entrance to the Goldwater Range Complex is by permit only. You must be prepared to present your entry permit to personnel from the Air Force, Marine Corps, Arizona Game and Fish Department, or Bureau of Land Management.  Permits are valid from July 1 to June 30 of the following year.

Please follow these steps to obtain a visitor use permit:

1.  Download a permit application here.   Print and complete this Release and Hold Harmless Agreement.  You must read and initial each of the advisories and complete the bottom section. This form documents your acknowledgement to possible dangers on the Range. The form is also used for emergency notification, return of lost property, or to track user demographic data. This form is kept on file for 12 months.

2.  Make an appointment with and visit one of the following offices to submit your completed hold harmless agreement, watch a Visitor Safety and Responsibility video, and receive your visitor use permit:

Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field, AZ 85337    (623) 856-5241     
Gila Bend AFAF is located three miles south of the town of Gila Bend, Arizona. When you arrive at the Gila Bend AFAF Main Gate, you will be signed in as a guest and directed to the Range Operations Control Center.  Permits can be obtained at GBAFAF between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Range Management Dept, P.O. Box 99134, MCAS-Yuma, AZ 85369
(928) 269-7150 or Main Gate MCAS Yuma, South Ave 3E.

Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, 1611 North Second Avenue, Ajo, AZ 85321 (520) 387-6483.

Bureau of Land Management, Phoenix Field Office, 21605 N. 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ (623) 580-5500  or  BLM, 1 North Central, Suite 800, Phoenix AZ 85004, (602) 417-9300

Checking In and Out of BMGR East

Before entering the Range you must notify by phone or in person the appropriate agency that you are preparing to enter the Goldwater Range. Instructions are provided on the back of your permit.  Be prepared to provide your permit number, dates and duration of your visit, number of people in your party, destination(s), and vehicle information.

After completing your trip you must notify, by phone or in person, the appropriate agency that you are clear of the Range. This is required so that visitor safety can be insured and military training can continue as scheduled. Failure to check out may also result in suspension of future BMGR visitation privileges.

Rules of Conduct While Visiting PUBLIC USE Areas of BMGR East

Your permit must be visibly placed on the dashboard of your vehicle at all times while you are on the Range. Keep a second copy with you. The permit may be requested if you are inspected by the Arizona Fish and Game Department, Bureau of Land Management, military police, or other law enforcement personnel. Persons without valid permits may be fined and barred from future entry.

Locked gates control Range entry at some points. If your travel plans require it, you will be given the current gate combination when the permit is issued. Lock the gates behind you and do not share the combination with others not in your party.

Any area of the Range for which you do not have an entry permit is off limits. Visitation to military targets, target areas, battlefield simulations, buildings, towers, and transmitters is prohibited.

Many of the established roads on the Range are in rough condition. A 4-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicle is highly recommended.  All vehicles and drivers must be licensed for highway driving.

The Department of Defense strives to maintain the natural integrity of the lands it manages, and depends on the public to share in that endeavor. Please help us to maintain the natural integrity of your public lands by observing the following procedures.

Drive only on established roads.  Visitors' use of four-wheel drive and other types of all-terrain vehicles have multiplied the number of roads and two-track trails on the Goldwater Range. The desert soils are so sensitive that a single vehicle driving off the road can create a track that will last for decades. Other visitors may follow those tracks, resulting in an uncontrolled proliferation of new tracks. A great deal of damage to the fragile desert has occurred in this manner as vehicles have been used for cross-country and sport driving. Do not drive on roads that are not maintained and appear to have been rarely or never traveled in recent years; these are abandoned tracks that are being allowed to revegetate. 

Please observe minimal impact or leave-no-trace camping during your visit. When you break camp, take all refuse, remove all traces of human visitation and smooth out your tire tracks with a garden rake.

Do not camp within 0.25-mile of established wildlife waters.

Dead and downed wood may be collected and used for campfires while visiting the Range. It is prohibited to gather dead and downed wood for purposes other than campfires while visiting the Range.  Cutting and gathering live wood is prohibited.

Wildland fire poses a serious threat to the Sonoran Desert landscape. Contain your campfires, do not leave campfires unattended, and completely extinguish your campfire before you leave your site.

Rock collecting (rock hounding) is prohibited at BMGR East. Limited rock hounding is allowed at BMGR West.

Safely conducted recreational target shooting is allowed but certain restrictions apply. For example, an additional Special Use Permit is required for shooting between sunset and sunrise or for shooting automatic weapons.

Hunting is allowed and is managed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.  Holders of an AZGFD Bighorn Sheep Tag for the Mohawk Mountains should read below for further instructions.

Access to Operational Areas of BMGR East

Public access to operational areas of BMGR East is generally prohibited for safety reasons.  Access may be granted to researchers, contractors, and other non-DoD personnel on a case-by-case basis.  Access may also be granted to hunters who hold Arizona Game and Fish Department Bighorn Sheep Tags for the Mohawk Mountains at the western part of BMGR East and portions of the Cabeza Prieta Naltional Wildlife Refuge.  All personnel who enter these areas must undergo a background check, have a valid Recreation Permit, and hold a Special Use Permit issued by 56th Range Management Office that specifies the purpose and limitations of permitted access and activities.  

Point of Contact
56th Range Management Office Public Affairs
(623) 856-7216 / 9476
DSN 896-7216 / 9476

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