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Where’d We Go: A Bar in the Middle of the Desert


Imagine being lost in the desert mountains, and off in the distance there’s an oddly shaped hazy oasis. It looks like a something built from left over construction debris and whatever was left in the Home Depot dumpster bin. Well, it’s not your imagination, nor is an oasis. It’s a Bar – a legit bar in the middle of the desert.

This bar is known as the Nellie E Saloon or the Desert Bar. People from all over North America travel great distances, like the Northeastern pillagers and Canadians wonderlusts to see such roadside oddity. We on the other hand only traveled a couple hundred miles outside of our Phoenix suburban homes. Which is nothing in comparison to some of the travels we’ve done in the past.


After a friend of mine shared an article with me highlighting this strange retreat, I partnered up with Tyson Hughie from Drive to Five, Sam Haymart from and one of returning co-pilots Rob B. to head out to this desert landmark and see what all the fuss and appetizing food was all about.

For the first time in our road going adventures, I took shotgun on this one. With just four of us going, it didn’t make any sense to bring along the 2017 Volkswagen Passat I had on loan that week. While it would have made for a good road companion, Sam Haymart was testing the all-new 2017 Audi A4 Prestige…. And, well I’m a sucker for an Audi.


The Desert Bar is located just outside of small town, Parker, Arizona. The bar was established in 1988 after working out of a temporary structure for five years. The land in which this bar is nestled on was purchased in 1975 and use to be an old mining camp. Luckily the land had a liquor license and thus allowed for some good ole booze to be sold.

There is a lot of history in this Tavern. There is an old fire truck parked outside that used to be used to haul water up to the bar. A church was built in 1993 and completed in 1996 to host weddings and good photo opportunity and a welcome sign for people of all backgrounds.

The road to get to the bar was not quite a well-rounded road – while a car can drive on it, we were slow going while being passed by many Jeeps and off-road terrain buggy’s. Pulling up, my eye’s nearly exploded with how many cars were in the parking lot. And how many of them didn’t even have Arizona plates. There were vehicles from all across this land.


Walking in, we were overwhelmed – there were hundreds of people everywhere, so many different food opportunities, and a live local band to keep us entertained. We strolled around to take in the scenery and even though we didn’t have a beer for this go around, I did enjoy the burger they prepared for me… even got them to put an egg on top.


We’ve travelled long hours and far distances in the past for littler things. Spending nearly 6 hours on the road just to dine in a dusty old bar with a bunch Canadians and good friends was totally worth it!



  1. You are absolutely right. The whole place was built from the Home Depot dumpster bin! And the Canadians love it! Live music wasn’t half bad either.

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