During my time in Arizona, I got to explore quite a few ghost towns. Each of them were defined in their own way and surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Here's a run down of my favorite old mining towns to explore:
All About Oatman
Oatman, Arizona is a charming old ghost town in western Arizona off historic Route 66. Burros roam the streets and you can find history in every building.
The burros define this unique town and are so much fun to be around. They are super friendly and you can even feed them! Burro food is sold throughout Oatman if you want to give them a treat.
Keep in mind, if you feed them, you will be their new best friend. They may even follow you around! Check out the burro gazing in at the ice cream shop below 😂 This was probably the highlight of the trip.
The main strip in Oatman is just a short street long, and the burros are all over it waiting for treats from tourists. Since it is a rather small town, there isn't a ton of walking to do here if you're not physical able or up to it.
Just be careful while you drive through and around Oatman, the burros walk the streets like they own them!
You can still catch a glimpse of many days passed in this old mining town. As you walk through the town, there are a few restaurants and places to get a drink.
The town of Oatman is mostly made up of local stores, which feature museums in the upper level of many of these shops. Some of the stores are full of gimmicky souvenirs, but others boast incredibly unique items that you probably can't find elsewhere.
Check out this jail cell in the picture below. I bet you would have behaved back in the day to avoid getting locked in one of these!
There are places to eat, drink and even a part of a mine you can check out full of facts, history and stories to learn more about the miners and the Oatman lifestyle.
If you head to the Dollar Bill Bar in Oatman, upstairs you can get a glimpse of what the building used to look like back in the day. In it's former glory, this establishment was once the Oatman Hotel.
The history of this popular place still remains. You can see a preserved hotel room that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard stayed in when they visited the Oatman Hotel long ago.
As you come and go through Oatman, take the scenic route and head down historic Route 66 for some beautiful landscapes and a trip down memory lane.
There are a few cool photo ops along this route with gimmicky Route 66 props. I'm cheesy, so I was all about it.
Oatman is totally family friendly and fun for people of all ages. You can even catch gun shows on weekends during certain times of the year.
Jeeping Through Jerome
Next up on our Arizona ghost town tour is Jerome. This old copper-mining town is located outside of Sedona. Like Oatman, the surrounding landscape is breathtaking. Here you can find museums, restaurants and plenty of history about the town back in the day.
The weirdest takeaway from Jerome is there were reading glasses left everywhere (look at the bottom of the left pillar in the picture above). They were on benches, pillars, walls, you name it! To this day I don't know if it's a ghost thing or a way for tourists to leave their mark. That being said, if ghosts are your thing, this is the place for you! You can even take a ghost tour while you're here.
One of the coolest shops I would say that is worth hitting is the Nellie Bly Kaleidoscope store. This artsy shop has tons of unique kaleidoscopes, sculptures and other cool crafty finds. It also happens to be the largest kaleidoscope store in the world. Props to the owner because the items they sell are insanely cool.
When you visit Jerome, you have to check out the sliding Jail. Yep, you read that right. This jail, now only standing with three walls, actually slid over 200 feet down the mountain is still (barely) there.
Jerome is pretty quarky. As you walk down Main Street, if you look through the bars of what looks like the foundation of an old building and look down where the basement would be, there are actually urinals that people try to throw coins in!
Although this town almost disappeared at one point, when I visited, there were people filling the streets, live music playing from the bars and many vehicles rolling down the streets. Definitely a fun spot to hit for a day trip!
Going To 'Ol Goldfield
Although there are many old mining towns, especially throughout the Southwest, each differs with their own characteristics. Goldfield is located outside of Phoenix on the Apache trail and boasts tons of saguaro cacti throughout the town, not to mention the fabulous mountain views.
A train runs around the town, which you can hop on for a tour. There is also a zipline if that's more your speed. The iconic Superstition Mountains surround Goldfield and are sight in themselves.
One of my favorite parts about Goldfield was seeing a live gunshow, something they run every hour on the hour. It was pretty cool to see the actors living it up like in the Wild West! That's a pretty cool job to have in my opinion.
Goldfield still has plenty of buildings to wander around and explore the history, as well as a few places to eat and of course, there is a saloon.
There is also equipment to learn about mining, an old jail, a church, and much more. You can pan for gold, tour the mine or get a day in the life at the Goldfield Museum.
Goldfield gives you a great glimpse into what life in the Wild West was really like. Once you finish up here, go explore the Superstition Mountains (by horse or by Jeep), you won't be disappointed!
Arizona is filled with ghost towns. They really seem to be endless. A few other cool ones worth exploring are Ruby, Fairbank, Bisbee, Vulture City...and the list goes on and on.
No matter which ghost town you explore, there is plenty of history to learn and you a guaranteed a scenic drive to get there. Thanks for checking out my spooky adventures!