Last weekend I went with friends from work to the Nellie E. Saloon, or Desert Bar as the locals call it. It’s fun, quirky, and remote. The Bar is located 5 miles into the Buckskin Mountains on a winding, up and down trail-of-a-road called Cienega Springs Road, outside of Parker, Arizona, off of State Route 95.
Jackie drove us in her HUGE truck since she knew the way and her truck is tough. I’m not sure my Accord could have made the trip in and out. Most of the vehicles in the parking lot were trucks, jeeps, ATVs, or otherwise desert-prepared.
There’s a chapel in the parking lot that the owner built. It’s open so you can enjoy God’s handiwork more. But we didn’t spend much time here-- we had come to find the Bar! From the parking lot you cross a covered, wood bridge to reach it.
The site was once copper mine called the Nellie E. A man named Ken bought the land in 1975. The full story is at The Desert Bar.
The Nellie E. Saloon is unique. The main level has a really cool bar with wagon wheels and mining memorabilia adding the ambiance. There’s a lower lever with more food options, and an upper level with umbrella tables and a really great view. Tina, another friend, works at the grill in the lower level so we bought our lunch there. My sandwich was great—grilled beef smothered with onions and peppers. Yummy! Restrooms are up another hill, and there’s a great view of the mountains from the Ladies.
The Bar got some bad reviews in a web site I’ve seen, but I think that’s unfair. The Bar is limited but it’s in the middle of the desert. No one should expect it to be “Cheers”. Its uniqueness is part of the charm. A major complaint was the limited hours. It’s only open on the weekends from Labor Day to Memorial Day. But the population of Parker is small, and summers here are way too hot to have folks driving into the desert to go to a Bar.
Just like in “Field of Dreams”, if you build a bar, people will come. We got there early, before the place officially opened, in order to get a parking spot. By the time we left a few hours later, the place was packed. The band was really good, too, and played a variety of old favorites. We had such a great time; we’re all planning our next trip.
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