Summer is almost here – which means vacation time to explore new places! Following my Vegas post, I wanted to share a unique little town I visited while in Laughlin, NV last month with my boyfriend and his family. If you are a fan of the Wild West, this is definitely a spot to visit if you are in the area!
Across the crystal clear waters of the Colorado River and a quick 45-minute drive East of Bullhead City, lies the mining town of Oatman, Arizona. Besides its western vibe, Oatman is known for another cool attribute – its (extremely docile) wild burro population. As we drove around the corner behind the desert buttes and into the small town (population: 120!), we saw three burros making their way down from the hills and I knew we had reached our destination. We parked behind a deserted schoolhouse and proceeded to walk to Main Street.
Oatman is exactly the kind of town you would find along Route 66 in the early 1900’s. Picture the backdrop of any Wild West movie (…or… Cars Land at Disneyland for the younger crowd) and you already have a great idea of the town’s atmosphere. The burros were sluggishly walking in the street, following closely behind the tourists who had brown paper bags filled with hay cubes (burro treats!). We wandered up and down Main Street, browsing through the mining exhibits and shops filled with leather, candy and souvenirs. Occasionally I would hear a drawn-out “heeee-haw” in the distance. I thought that was cute! All the stores are aptly named, like “Fast Fannys” and “Jackass Junction,” which added to the town’s quirky personality. A quick note about food- while there is plenty of food around for burros, there are a limited amount of restaurants in town. I definitely recommend eating before heading there.
At noon, the street was blocked off to traffic for a shootout demonstration between a sheriff and bank robber. Amidst the action, burros would startle onlookers by nudging their arms, hinting for more treats. Completely unfazed by people or the loud pops from cap guns, they were pretty tame for being wild! After the sheriff prevailed, we were thirsty and did what any cowboy would do – we headed to the local watering hole at Judy’s Saloon & Pool Hall.
During our stop at the saloon, Brady’s Dad and Uncle told us a little more about about Oatman’s history. Oatman once as a bustling gold mining town that mined over $13 million in gold (1920’s dollars). In 1941 the mines were shut down and the prospectors hit the road, leaving their burros behind- hence the wild burro population. But don’t feel bad for them- they are still thriving more than seventy years later! And for you movie buffs- the Oatman Hotel hosted Clark Gable and Carole Lombard as their honeymoon destination. Rumor has it that the hotel is haunted. Pretty neat!
After my history lesson, I bought a few bags of burro food. (Not too bad for $1 a piece). Brady didn’t like the taste, but the burro’s sure did! The money was well spent, because I had an awesome time watching the gentle giants reach and grab the hay cubes from our palms. I felt like a little kid again! By the end of our bags, more had flocked over, and my burro selfie photo shoot began. (#BurroSelfie!) We even got the chance to see a burro that was only four days old! Adorable.
With that being said, we had an awesome time in Oatman. It’s a great day trip for kids and adults alike, and I now have some fun memories with Brady’s fam that I will carry with me always! If you visit Oatman in the future, make sure you tell the burros I said hello!