Saturday, April 5, 2014

Another Route 66 Adventure–Oatman, Arizona

The Mother Road

The “EZ66 Guide” describes the drive from Kingman to the ghost town of Oatman on Historic Route 66 (Oatman Highway) as “HIGHLY recommended, but VERY steep/crooked (and a bit rough in patches), with scary drops!”

I had made the drive to Oatman 23 years ago with my friend from work, while we were in Arizona on a test trip, and I remembered it as being an adventure.     1991_Arizona_Marci0033









Do you remember that trip, Marybeth?!

I knew the boys would enjoy it, so after work & school were done and we had some lunch, we headed out on Oatman highway.

Oatman Highway - Route 66

The road starts out straight and flat as you drive towards the Black Mountains . . . this part of the drive could actually be called a little boring, but the mountains are beautiful.

We had just started the climb when we reached Cool Springs.

Vintage Truck in Cool Springs

The original store dated back to 1926, then was used (and apparently destroyed) as part of a movie set, and has recently been rebuilt.

Cool Springs

Vintage Gas Pump

The vintage gas pumps are pretty cool, but I’m not too sure I’d want to use the rest room!

Interesting Rest Room

The gift shop had lots of Route 66 stuff – one of the biggest selections I’ve seen.  We stopped for a few minutes and talked to a couple who were heading the opposite way.  They told us about a herd of bighorn sheep about 5 miles up on the mountain, so we made sure to stop and look for them.

We started up the narrow road, around the numerous switchbacks,

Driving into the mountains

and passed by “Ed’s Camp”.  Now, this is something I remembered from my previous drive to Oatman . . . it’s a lot more desolate-looking now, though!

Ed’s Camp in 1991

Ed's Camp in 1991

Ed’s Camp in 2014

Ed's Camp

There were 3 or 4 motorhomes around the back, though, so I guess somebody is living out there!

We reached the top of Sitgreaves Pass,

We reached the top!

where we got out to enjoy the view and find the herd of bighorn sheep.

A beautiful day for a drive












From the pull-off parking area, we walked down the trail until we caught a glimpse of the herd of bighorn sheep.

Looking for the bighorn sheep

We quickly spotted them, and they spotted us, too!

They were watching us, too

Bighorn Sheep


The full herd

On the other side of the pass, we stopped again to check out the road that we would be taking DOWN into Oatman . . .

Mountain Road


there were several old cars on the mountainside under the road . . . and a small cemetery at the top of the hill.

Mountaintop Cemetery











This parcel of land could be yours if you are interested!

It's for sale!

The view is beautiful,

On the way to Oatman

On the road to Oatman











but the commute is a little treacherous!

We made our way through the hairpin turns and steep descent into the little ghost town of Oatman.

Arriving in Oatman

Oatman, Arizona










Oatman is an old gold-mining town (that isn’t really a town – it’s never been incorporated)

Oatman Mural

which has become a tourist destination largely due to the wild burros that wander the streets and shops.

We found this guy standing guard outside the door of one shop . . . he  (or she) was not interested in moving out of the doorway!

Security Guard

We walked through several shops . . . mostly T-shirts and jewelry,

Shopping in Oatman

checked out the old gold mine,          Goldmine

Old Goldmine



and watched people feed the wild burros.

They know who has the food


Burros gather in the street










This poor little guy was walking around with a sticker on his forehead asking people not to feed him.

Baby Burro isn't ready for solid food yet

The town is bigger than I remember, with more little shops, but there are still several original shops and the historic Oatman Hotel.

Historic Oatman Hotel

By the time we walked through the shops on both sides of the street,

Marshal Tom

Fordson Tractor



it was almost time for the gunfight, so we got ice cream cones and stayed to watch the show. 



There were several burros wandering through the crowd, begging for food or trying to get into people’s bags.



Burro in the crowd


The show ended with a “bang”, and we made our way back to our car.

End of the show


Driving down the road is almost as difficult as walking down the sidewalks . . . maybe worse, since the burros have the right of way!


Just hanging out in the road

The drive west out of Oatman is a LOT easier than the drive from Kingman, and seemed to take no time at all! 

We arrived in Bullhead City on the Colorado River, and it looked like an oasis in the desert!


Bullhead City


Across the river is the gambling town of Laughlin, Nevada, and we took a drive along Casino Drive,

Laughlin Casinos

and stopped to admire the view of the river.

Bullhead City on the Colorado River

Bullhead City and Laughlin seem like a world away from the little ghost town of Oatman!!

We didn’t see anywhere we wanted to try for dinner, so we headed east on the Davis Dam Road back to the RV Park.  Nicolas was thrilled to be driving on a stretch of highway that Ford uses to test our vehicles!

Driving up the Davis Dam grade


Reaching the top










It was an enjoyable afternoon, and a great day for a drive!


  1. now that was a great tour of Oatman! thanks for sharing..those burros are adorable!

  2. When we were there last fall we saw a day old burro, it was so cute. I feel sorry for the burro that couldn't have treats with the rest of them, but there must have been a good reason. We always enjoy visiting Oatman but your right it doesn't change much. Is it the long hill going back to Golden Valley that Ford used to use? That's neat history to hear. Enjoy your trip now that you're back on the road. B6

  3. Momma feeds the babies, thats why we can't feed them. They get better food from their mom


Thanks for reading! We'd love to hear your comments!