The “Nellie E Saloon” Desert Bar is certainly one of the most unique places to hold a music venue! Located outside of Parker, AZ, the bar is accessed via Cienega Springs Road – a 5-mile drive on a very unimproved, narrow dirt and gravel road with some precarious drop-offs! On Sunday February 9th, we decided to take a ride from Quartzsite and listen to some good, live music. My brother-in-law drove us there in his Chevy truck with dual wheels and it was slow going. On a previous visit, he experienced a flat tire when he veered to far off the side of the road. Knowing this, and the trepidation of my sister, I am grateful to them for offering to drive us there to experience this one-of-a-kind place. We were joined by friends of theirs from Canada who were also camped at La Posa South – Steve and Dianne, and Dave and Leslie.
According to their website, the Desert Bar sits on ground where an old copper mine operated. The owner, “Ken”, purchased the land in 1975 and the idea of a “bar in the desert” was born. He officially opened for business in 1983 in a small, original structure and over the years has expanded to what you see now.
The whole place operates via solar energy with panels on all the roofs and a bank of batteries for storage. According to the website, improvements are made each year and his latest brainstorm is to create a small town on site! That’s enticing enough to draw people back next year to see the progress made and/or latest project completed.
Walking down to the venue, you get a bird’s eye view of the solar array – quite impressive!!
The band, Ripple Effect, was already playing when we arrived. Their music was definitely geared to the older generation – with songs from the rock n’ roll era of the sixties and seventies. Their repertoire included tunes from the Eagles, Bob Seger, Eric Clapton, John Denver, Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin and on and on…….it was a treat to hear these old familiar songs!!
Steve and Diane and Dave and Leslie arrived ahead of us and grabbed a good table – arriving early is advisable!! The venue operates on Saturday and Sundays from 12noon – 6pm. Our crew – from left to right, counterclockwise – Harry, Vicki, Dianne, Steve, Dave, Leslie, Lynn and Jim
There’s food for sale as well as beverages ranging from Coca Cola to beer and wine and mixed drinks. All cash transactions – so be prepared! The prices were reasonable which I did not expect!
The atmosphere is very relaxed and, after a while sitting at the table, Jim and I decided to get up and walk around. There’s a trail behind the venue that leads up to a knoll above the compound. It was fun to get that perspective!
Vicki and Harry joined us on the hike up to the top of the mountain
I loved the “art” that was interspersed around the property 🙂
One curiosity was the church on the property – it’s not an original structure but was built in 1996 as one of Ken’s projects. A great photo-op place!!
One of the most impressive parts of the venue was the effort made to encourage recycling! What a novel idea to make the recycling bins transparent so that it makes it really easy to see what should be deposited there!! Good job, Ken!!!! 🙂
More images and scenery!!
This was an absolutely beautiful, warm and sunny day and could not have been a more perfect choice for a Sunday afternoon. If you are ever in the Parker, AZ area during the winter months – take the time to experience the Desert Bar. You will not be disappointed.
When i saw the name “Nellie” associated with a bar it reminded me of the “Jersey Lilly” in Langtry, TX. http://50statesorless.com/articles/35 Although both feature a bar in a desert, there is no comparison either in their appearance, services or the origin of their feminine name. I’m glad to see the patrons at “Nellie” recycle!