Oatman, Arizona: Living Ghost Town - Burros and GunfightsChaotic Old West street of wandering burros and free gunfights.
Visitor Tips and News About Living Ghost Town - Burros and Gunfights
Oatman is located on historic Route 66, a town originally named after the Oatman family was attacked and killed by Indians nearby. Oatman was founded and once thrived due to its proximity to the richest gold mines in the state, which operated from 1904 through 1931. The town population peaked at 10,000 during the mining years, when it produced $36 million in ore. After the mines closed down, the burros used as pack animals were set free -- but they never left.
The construction of I-40 should have nailed the coffin shut on Oatman, but the scrappy town survived into the 1970s, when someone came up with the bright idea of declaring the entire burg a tourist attraction using the decendants of the mining burros as the main attraction. I expected to find a near ghost town, but there were hundreds of people in the town feeding and taking pictures of burros. Burros have total run of the town and people are encouraged to feed them carrots. Some citizens dress in early 1900s costumes to add to the ambience. The result is a "Tombstone, Arizona meets Assateague, Maryland in the Twilight Zone" experience.
A plaque in town reads, in part: "..if it were not for these burros, in all probability, neither you nor this plaque would be standing here today. People come from all over the World to visit, feed, and take pictures of the burros."[Greg Brown, 03/24/2001]
The burros are a wonderful part of Oatman. But wait.. there's more! Check out the re-enactment group, the "Oatman Ghost Riders" (male cowboys) and "Jezebels" (saloon-girl/period hookers) that do free shoot-em-ups on the street daily. In August they have a day where people come and fry eggs on the sidewalk. And during the nearby Laughlin RiverRun, over 40,000 bikers visit Oatman, mingling with the cowboys and prostitutes in period garb. Make sure you visit the Oatman hotel, where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon! There's an interesting tour of a nearby mine- ours was led by a crusty yet benevolent old miner named "Two Dogs". And you get to scan rocks found in the mine with ultraviolet lights to see the gold flecks![Mimi B, 06/25/2000]
yes the burros will eat from your hand, but one got a little over zealous with me when I ran out of carrots (they're on a special all-carrot diet these days) and chased me across a parking lot. I ducked quickly behind a rusted-out Chevy Impala, and the burro gave up. I wasn't hurt and it was sort of exciting, so maybe it's a reason TO go to Oatman.[Marc Mickelson, 09/02/1997]
Living Ghost Town - Burros and Gunfights
- Route 66, Oatman, AZ
- I-40 exit 44. Follow the signs for Oatman, 23 miles. From California, its about 30 miles east of Needles. Motorhomes will have problems coming from the Kingman, Arizona side due to the switchbacks. Long wheelbase vehicles should approach Oatman via hwy 95 from I-40 at the Topock exit at the AZ/CA border.
- Daylight hours.
- RA Rates:
- Major Fun