Thursday, January 20, 2022


RV Short Stops: Notorious Yuma Territorial Prison

By Julianne G. Crane
The notorious Yuma Territorial Prison is a popular RV Short Stop for thousands of snowbirds each winter. This fascinating historic tourist attraction is only a short distance from I-8.

Yuma Territorial Prison

Historic image of the Yuma Territorial Prison on the Colorado River.

“Sitting on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River, three miles west of the confluence of the Colorado and the historic Gila River, stand the ruins of Arizona’s famous Territorial Prison. A short distance west are the remaining buildings that served as a part of the Yuma Quartermaster’s Depot,” writes Charles R. Eatherly about the park’s history on the prison’s website.

Watchtower at the Yuma Territorial Prison.

The park opened to the public on Jan. 1, 1961.  A few of the original preserved buildings include the watchtower. Nearby are “the actual strap iron cells and solitary chamber of Arizona Territory’s first prison.” Other outside features include the original water tank, sally port (entrance gate), library room, and caliche hill.

Museum, Visitor Center

Interpretive panels are situated throughout the historic site. An overview exhibit is located in the Visitor Center along with photographs. There are many fascinating and informative artifacts and displays in the air conditioned museum. Take the guided tour and learn the complete history.

The 3,600 sq. ft. Museum houses a video presentation, original prison artifacts with exhibits interpreting prison history, prison staff and convicts. A large mural painting of Arizona Native Americans and scenery by a WWII Italian POW graces one of the walls.

If you go:

Yuma Territorial Prison State Historical Park

Yuma Territorial Prison
220 N. Prison Hill Road
Yuma, AZ 85364
(928) 783-4771
Latitude: N 32 43.444
Longitude: W 114 36.750
Open Thursday through Monday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
$8-Adults (14+); $3-Youth (7-13); $0-Child (6 and under)
Free Parking: Plenty of RV and tow vehicle parking in South Parking Lot

If you are looking for a fun casual dining experience nearby, check out Lutes Casino in Historic Downtown Yuma.

Writer’s Note: Because the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us, be mindful of your surroundings while viewing these outdoor facilities. Visitors are being asked to follow all current state and locally mandated protocols.

Julianne G. Crane
Read more of Julianne’s RV Short Stops posts here.
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Joe Allen
12 days ago

We were there 2 years ago, well worth the visit. Had a great time with friends! In fact, we made it a point to visit as many historical sites as possible!