Gates Pass was named for Thomas Gates, a local pioneer & successful gambler, rancher, saloonkeeper, & miner. Today, we might refer to old Tom as an “entrepreneur”. In 1883 he searched for & found a shorter route between his mine in the Avra Valley and Tucson.
When the County refused to build a road through the pass in the Tucson Mountains, Gates spent $1,000 of his own to build the narrow, winding dirt road that shortened his route by 8 miles.
Today, Gates Pass Road is an extension of Speedway west through Tucson Mountain Park to the attractions in the Avra Valley: Old Tucson, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and Saguaro National Park West. It’s one of the most scenic drives in all of Arizona. Most who take this route will stop at least once at the summit overlook to enjoy the view. And what a view it is.