Interstate 8 East - Yuma County

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This view shows Interstate 8 looking east from the U.S. 95 overpass in Yuma. The four-lane freeway has provisions for future expansion in the median, which has planted oleander. Photo taken 01/14/05.

Interstate 8 east
Crossing the Colorado River on the 1979 bridge, Interstate 8 turns southeast into Yuma. Interstate 8 enters the city of Yuma. The largest city in Yuma County, Yuma is a popular winter getaway for snowbirds (bringing in hundreds of millions of additional dollars to the local economy) and thrives due to its proximity to the international border with Mexico. As of the 2000 Census, 77,515 people reside in Yuma; that figure has grown to 88,775 as of a 2005 estimate. This does not include winter residents. Yuma is the 10th largest city in Arizona (as of 2006), in front of Surprise and before Peoria. Yuma has gone by other names in its history: from 1854 until 1858, Yuma was known as Colorado City and from 1858 until 1873, Yuma was known as Arizona City. In 1873, Yuma received its current name, which is in honor of the Native American inhabitants from this region. Incorporation occurred three times in Yuma's history: as a village on July 11, 1876; as a town on April 6, 1902; and as a city on April 7, 1914. Yuma sits at 138 feet above sea level, receives only 2.94 inches of rainfall annually, and the average year-round high temperature is over 87 degrees!1 This mileage sign is the first sign along Interstate 8 east after exiting California. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Use Exit 1 to historic downtown Yuma, museums, and Yuma Territorial Prison State Park. The Yuma Chamber of Commerce in downtown Yuma also serves as the welcome center to Arizona for Interstate 8. By this time, "eastbound" Interstate 8 is actually traveling south, and Giss Parkway is an east-west connection from Interstate 8 west to Business Loop I-8 (Old U.S. 80) via downtown. The speed limit will remain 65 miles per hour from the California-Arizona border east to the Gila Mountains. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 1, Giss Parkway and Redondo Center Drive to downtown Yuma. Redondo Center Drive parallels Interstate 8 on the west side of the freeway between Giss Parkway and U.S. 95 (16th Street). Photo taken 01/14/05.
Trucks enter the weigh station and port of entry following the departure ramp to Giss Parkway (Exit 1). Photo taken 01/14/05.
Welcome to Arizona, the Grand Canyon State. For tourist information and highway information, visit the official Arizona Guide webpage. Note that by crossing the Colorado River, motorists leave the Pacific Time Zone and enter the Mountain Time Zone. However, Arizona does not observe daylight savings time, which means that California and Arizona share the same time during the summer months (early March through mid-November each year). Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit along eastbound Interstate 8 is Exit 2, U.S. 95 in Yuma, three-quarters of a mile. This is the main route into downtown Yuma, plus U.S. 95 heads north toward Quartzsite, Blythe, and Lake Havasu (via Arizona 95). This is the only U.S. route interchange for the entire length of Interstate 8, creating what is probably the lowest Interstate mileage to U.S. route interchange ratio of anywhere in the country. There are no other intersecting U.S. routes for Interstate 8 in Arizona and none west of here on Interstate 8 either. Photo taken 01/14/05.
This mileage sign provides the distance to the next three exits: Exit 2, U.S. 95 (16th Street); Exit 3, Arizona 280 (Avenue 3E); and Exit 7, Araby Road. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 2 for U.S. 95 (16th Street) in Yuma. While Interstate 8 "east" is actually traveling south, U.S. 95 is actually traveling east-west through here. This makes the cardinal directions especially confusing for local driving. U.S. 95 north will parallel Interstate 8 east until the Fortuna Road interchange, so through traffic to U.S. 95 north to Quartzsite may prefer to remain on the freeway until Exit 12, Fortuna Road (a distance of nearly ten miles). Photo taken 01/14/05.
Taking the off-ramp to U.S. 95, the northbound control point is the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground and Quartzsite (Interstate 10), while the southbound control city is San Luis on the Mexican border. A port of entry at the border allows passage into the city of San Luis Colorado in the state of Sonora, Mexico. U.S. 95 ends and connects to Mexico Federal Route 2. Mexico Federal Route 2 parallels the Mexico-United States border, leading west to Mexicali and Tijuana and east to Sonoita and Santa Ana in Sonora. Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit along Interstate 8 east is Exit 3, Arizona 280 (Avenue 3E) north to U.S. 95 and south to Business Loop I-8 and the Yuma International Airport. In Yuma County, the county road numbering system is based on mileage from Yuma at the western end of the county. Hence, Avenue 3E is approximately three miles from the center point in Yuma in the western end of the county and is fairly close to the total mileage of Interstate 8 thus far in Arizona (three miles, since we are approaching Exit 3). Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next three exits along Interstate 8 east are Exit 3, Arizona 280 (Avenue 3E); Exit 7, Araby Road; and Exit 9, Junction Business Loop I-8 (Old U.S. 80) and Avenue 8 1/2 E. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Arizona 280 follows Avenue 3E for its entire length between U.S. 95 and Business Loop I-8. Follow Arizona 280 south to the Yuma County Fairgrounds, Yuma International Airport, and Marine Corps Air Station - Yuma. As may be evident from the numbering of Arizona 280, this is a derivative of Old U.S. 80, and both Arizona 280 and U.S. 80 existed together in the 1970s. Now that U.S. 80 has been retracted all the way to Dallas, Texas, only some a few remnants of U.S. 80 can be found, and the designation of Arizona 280 is one of those remnants. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 3, Arizona 280 (Avenue 3E). By this point, Interstate 8 is again traveling east rather than south. Photo taken 01/14/05.
This reassurance shield for Interstate 8 east is posted after the Arizona 280 interchange. Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next three exits along eastbound Interstate 8 are: Exit 7, Araby Road (2.25 miles); Exit 9, Junction Business Loop I-8 and Avenue 8 1/2 E (4.5 miles); and Exit 12, Fortuna Road to U.S. 95 (7 miles). Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit along eastbound Interstate 8 is Exit 7, Araby Road (one mile). Photo taken 01/14/05.
Use Araby Road to Arizona Western College and the Yuma Branch of Northern Arizona University. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 approaches Exit 7, Araby Road, one half mile. Traffic on Interstate 8 in Yuma has been steadily increasing as the region has continued to grow with more permanent and seasonal residents. Add in the strong agricultural base of the economy in the Colorado River valley, and traffic increases. There is ample room on Interstate 8 to expand the freeway with more lanes if needed. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 7, Araby Road. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Continuing east, this mileage sign provides the distance to the next three exits: Exit 9, Junction Business Loop I-8; Exit 12, Fortuna Road to U.S. 95; and Exit 14, Foothills Boulevard. Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit along eastbound Interstate 8 is Exit 9, Junction Business Loop I-8. This business route originated at Exit 170 in Winterhaven, California, and crossed into Yuma on its own bridge over the Colorado River. It comes to an end here at Exit 9. Photo taken 01/14/05.
This is the original alignment of Historic U.S. 80, which follows Interstate 8 closely between Yuma and Gila Bend. Unlike many other states, Arizona is generally pretty good about signing the business loop in both directions; in Wyoming, for instance, this business loop exit would not be signed with a shield. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 9, Junction Business Loop I-8 west and Avenue 8 1/2 E. From here, Old U.S. 80 follows Interstate 8 east until the Dome Valley exit on the east side of the Gila Mountains. The Gila Mountains become more prominent in the distance as the freeway continues west. Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit along eastbound Interstate 8 is Exit 12, Fortuna Road followed by Exit 14, Foothills Boulevard and an inspection station (for the U.S. Border Patrol). Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 approaches Exit 12, Fortuna Road, one mile. As the sign indicates, this exit has services, but there are not too many exits with services between here and Gila Bend. Get gas before leaving the Yuma metropolitan area. Photo taken 01/14/05.
A variable message sign overhead is posted prior to the Fortuna Road interchange to warn of weather or traffic conditions. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Another mileage sign is posted for the next three exits, the same as the one depicted above. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 12, Fortuna Road. Use Fortuna Road north to U.S. 95 north. This is the last opportunity to turn north on U.S. 95 to Quartzsite, Blythe, and Las Vegas. Interstate 8 and Old U.S. 80 continue east toward the Gila Mountains. Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit along eastbound Interstate 8 is Exit 14, Foothills Boulevard. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 14, Foothills Boulevard. A community known as The Foothills is located south of Interstate 8 and is accessible via this exit. From here, Interstate 8 begins its climb over the Gila Mountains. Photo taken 01/14/05.
After the Foothills Boulevard interchange, this mileage sign provides the distance to the U.S. Border Patrol inspection station (1.75 miles) and the two control cities: Phoenix via Interstate 8 east to Arizona 85 north (165 miles) and Tucson via Interstate 8 east to Interstate 10 east (226 miles). Photo taken 01/14/05.
All traffic must stop for the U.S. Border Patrol Inspection Station. Originally placed for preservation of Arizona agricultural interests, the inspection station is now used by the U.S. Border Patrol to reduce illegal immigration and illicit activities. Photo taken 01/14/05.
A second set of warning signs is posted with the yellow "Be Prepared to Stop." The speed limit reduces to 35 miles per hour, and all traffic must stop while the checkpoint is in operation. Photo taken 01/14/05.
All traffic is diverted from the mainline onto the inspection station offramp. Cars, pick-ups, and passenger vehicles are asked to use the left lane, while trucks use the right lane. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Emerging from the U.S. Border Patrol Inspection Station, the speed limit increases and the two inbound lanes merge back onto the mainline. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Interstate 8 begins the climb up the grade to the Gila Mountains. This route uses a multitude of rock cuts to make the grade acceptable for Interstate standards. The eastbound lanes use the later (1948) alignment of U.S. 80, while the westbound lanes use the original alignment of U.S. 80 through the Gila Mountains. Photo taken 01/14/05.
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This suite of photos shows Interstate 8 east as it ascends the Gila Mountains to Telegraph Pass. Note the rock cuts and turns made to enable the "wrong-way alignment" work. The slope is a 6% grade, so the ascent is short but steep. There is a speed limit reduction near the top of the pass (down to 55 miles per hour) after eastbound Interstate 8 passes under westbound Interstate 8. Photos taken 01/14/05.
The next exit along eastbound Interstate 8 is Exit 21, Dome Valley to Old U.S. 80. This interchange is located at the base of the Gila Mountains on the east slope, so watch for slow traffic as the freeway drops down to the desert floor. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Motorists enter a curve as I-8 east starts its descent from Telegraph Pass. Photo taken 01/14/05.
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This suite of photos shows Interstate 8 east as it descends the Gila Mountains from Telegraph Pass. Again note the rock cuts and turns made to enable the "wrong-way alignment" work. The slope is a 6% grade, so the descent is again short but steep. The one half mile advance sign for Exit 21, Dome Valley is also found on the downslope. Photos taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 passes under westbound Interstate 8, thus ending the brief "wrong-way alignment." Passing through the Gila Mountains, eastbound Interstate 8 crosses over with the westbound lanes. This allows for an easier grade for both directions. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 at Exit 21, Dome Valley. The valley extends for miles to the east, as Interstate 8 skirts the northern edge of the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range. This exit also connects to Old U.S. 80, which parallels Interstate 8 through Ligurta, Wellton, and Tacna. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Scenic vistas such as this one with red rock faced mountains are common in the Sonora Desert. Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit is an offramp to a parking area near Milepost 22. There are no facilities or restrooms at this site. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Temperatures can swell into the 100 to 110 degree Fahrenheit range during the summer months. A parking area located beyond Telegraph Pass allows drivers to stop vehicles with overheated brakes to allow them to cool down. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 22, Parking Area. Photo taken 01/14/05.
This mileage sign provides the distance to the town of Wellton (7 miles), Gila Bend (93 miles), and Tucson (217 miles). Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit is nine miles after the Dome Valley interchange (Exit 21); eastbound Interstate 8 approaches Exit 30, Wellton/Avenue 29E. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Avenue 30E heads north to connect with Old U.S. 80 in Wellton. There are not many services available in Wellton. Eastbound Interstate 8 approaches Exit 30, Avenue 30E. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 meets Avenue 30E at Exit 30, which serves the town of Wellton (the largest town in the valley). Wellton sits along the Coyote Wash. Limited development of this area is expected due to limited infrastructure and employment opportunities. This makes the region more appealing for those seeking to live outside of the city and urbanized areas while still having easy access to the urban amenities of Yuma. Photo taken 01/14/05.
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This mileage sign after the Wellton interchange provides the distance to Exit 37, Avenue 36E; Phoenix (148 miles); and Tucson (209 miles). Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit along eastbound Interstate 8 is Exit 37, Avenue 36E to the town of Roll. Yuma County utilizes a grid numbering system for its county routes; the numbers increase from west to east (compare Exit 30 Avenue 29E with Exit 37 Avenue 36E). Each number is spaced by one mile. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 approaches Exit 37, Avenue 36E to Roll. Roll sits north of old U.S. 80 on the north bank of the Gila River. U.S. 80 still parallels the freeway on the north side. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Shortly thereafter, Interstate 8 east meets Avenue 36E at Exit 37. Photo taken 01/14/05.
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This mileage sign after the Wellton interchange provides the distance to Exit 37, Avenue 36E; Phoenix (148 miles); and Tucson (209 miles). Photo taken 01/14/05.
This mileage sign after the Roll interchange provides the distance to Exit 42, Avenue 40E/Tacna; Gila Bend (77 miles); and Tucson (202 miles). Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit along eastbound is for Exit 42, Avenue 40E. Avenue 40E leads north into Tacna; this is the last exit with services until Exit 67, Dateland (home of famous date milkshakes!). Photo taken 01/14/05.
Tacna is another settlement along the old road, but it is located on the south bank of the Gila River, unlike Roll, which is on the north bank. Of course, the banks of the Gila River can vary depending upon how much water is in it; during the dry thirsty months, the river can reduce into a trickle, but in wet months, it can be a raging river. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 42, Avenue 40E to Tacna. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Another mileage sign is posted after the Avenue 40E interchange. The next exit is Exit 54, Avenue 52E (12 miles). A rest area is located 13 miles east of here; this is one of two rest areas along Interstate 8 in Arizona. Tucson is now 198 miles east of here. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Interstate 8 east prepares to ascend the Mohawk Mountains, which have a much gentler slope compared to the Gila Mountains east of Yuma (Telegraph Pass). The next two off-ramps are Exit 54 to U.S. 80 (Avenue 52E) to Mohawk Valley followed by the Mohawk Rest Area. Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit along eastbound Interstate 8 is with U.S. 80 (Avenue 52E) to Mohawk Valley. The rest area is a separate ramp after Avenue 52E. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Interstate 8 east crosses the Mohawk Mountains, with a gentle slope and curve along the route as it crosses the pass. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 approaches Exit 54, Junction Old U.S. 80/Avenue 52E to Mohawk Valley. From Exit 54 west to Dome Valley, old U.S. 80 is an extant paved highway. U.S. 80 parallels Interstate 8 on the north side of the freeway, then merges in with Interstate 8 over the Gila Mountains. A possible older alignment of U.S. 80 may have avoided the Gila Mountains crossing by turning northwest along with the Gila River to meet U.S. 95 near the old McPhaul Suspension Bridge. East of here, Interstate 8 largely overtakes U.S. 80 until the old road splits off at Gila Bend toward Phoenix. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 54, Junction Old U.S. 80/Avenue 52E to Mohawk Valley. Note the sharp loop ramp required to exit onto Avenue 52E. The next exit is the Mohawk Rest Area (Exit 55). Photo taken 01/14/05.
Restrooms, vending machines, and water are available at this rest area, which is the first one on Interstate 8 east in Arizona (excluding the tourist information center and chamber of commerce in Yuma at Exit 1/Giss Parkway). The last rest area was located in the Imperial Sand Dunes in California prior to Exit 154, Grays Well Road. The next rest area is only 28 miles east of here before Gila Bend. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 55, Mohawk Rest Area. Photo taken 01/14/05.
This mileage sign along eastbound is after the Mohawk Rest Area around Milepost 56, which is 11 miles west of Dateland (Exit 67). Also provided are the distances to Phoenix (123 miles) and Tucson (184 miles). Photo taken 05/24/03.
The next exit along eastbound Interstate 8 is Exit 67, Avenue 64E to Dateland. On the south side of the freeway is the home of famous Dateland date milkshakes. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Dateland is perhaps most famous for its Medjool Dates, but it was also one of General George S. Patton's training camps. Airstrips and related facilities from World War II are still present but are generally no longer in use. To the south is the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range, which continues east through Yuma and Maricopa Counties to a point roughly equivalent to Freeman Road (Exit 140). Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 67, Avenue 64E to Dateland. Photo taken 01/14/05.
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Leaving Dateland, this mileage sign on eastbound Interstate 8 provides the distance to the next rest area (15 miles), the junction with Arizona 85 and Business Loop I-8 in Gila Bend (47 miles), and Phoenix (111 miles). This is a rare instance where the control city of Tucson is not posted. Photo taken 01/14/05.
The next exit along eastbound is Exit 73, Aztec. The next two exits are Exit 78, Spot Road and Exit 87, Sentinel (which is located in Maricopa County). Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 73, Aztec. The palo verde tree obscures most of the exit sign. Photo taken 01/14/05.
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Leaving Dateland, this mileage sign on eastbound Interstate 8 provides the distance to the next rest area (15 miles), the junction with Arizona 85 and Business Loop I-8 in Gila Bend (47 miles), and Phoenix (111 miles). This is a rare instance where the control city of Tucson is not posted. Photo taken 01/14/05.
There is not a whole lot of development along this stretch of eastbound Interstate 8. The next exit is Exit 78, Spot Road, which lies close to the Yuma-Maricopa County Line. Photo taken 01/14/05.
Eastbound Interstate 8 reaches Exit 78, Spot Road. Photo taken 01/14/05.
After the Spot Road interchange, this mileage sign provides the distance to the Sentinel Rest Area (Exit 85), Gila Bend (37 miles), and Tucson (161 miles). Interstate 8 leaves Yuma County and enters Maricopa County. Maricopa County is the most populous county in Arizona, as it contains Phoenix and its suburbs as well as Gila Bend. Photo taken 01/14/05.


 

Sources:

  1. Welcome to the City of Yuma, Arizona - official site contains an excellent statistics page that lists population, demographic, geographical, climatic, and other information about the city


Photo Credits:

05/24/03, 01/14/05 by AARoads

Connect with:
U.S. 95

Page Updated 03-23-2007.