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How to Spend a Day in Oatman, Arizona

How to Spend a Day in Oatman, Arizona

How To Spend a Day in Oatman, Arizona

Welcome to Oatman, Arizona! While you may have never heard of this tiny mining town in the Black Mountains, we’re sure that you’ll never forget your visit.

Come along with us as we introduce you to the town of Oatman and all of the interesting things you can do in a day there. 

About Oatman, Arizona 

Oatman, Arizona is an old mining town. It wass established in the 1860s by a prospector named Johnny Moss. He named the area after a young girl, Olive Oatman. Olive was captured and enslaved by a tribe of Native Americans after her family was killed.

Eventually, she was adopted by the Mohave, who gave her the customary face tattoos of their tribe. To this day, you’ll find pictures of Olive’s tattooed face scattered throughout the town. 

While Olive’s story lives on, gold mining is what really put Oatman on the map. By 1941, nearly 40 million US dollars worth of gold had been produced by its mines.

Sadly, despite its golden success, it didn’t take long for Oatman to devolve into a ghost town. World War II lead to the closing of the mines. The only saving grace Oatman had was its Route 66 status. But when the highway was rerouted in 1953, Oatman became nothing more than a forgotten blip on the Arizona map. 

Oatman Today

Today, Oatman has been reclaimed as a tourist town. A shocking number of visitors flock there to experience a taste of the Wild West. In fact, despite having a population of only about 140 people, Oatman, Arizona draws nearly 500,000 visitors annually. 

If you’re planning to be one of those visitors, you might want to consider visiting in the winter months when the crowds have dissipated and daytime temperatures hover in the 50s and 60s. Otherwise, if you visit in the summer, prepare for crowded streets and dry desert heat that can soar well into the 100s. 

No matter when you visit, though, you’re sure to have a fun time! Whether you’re snapping a picture with a wild burro or strolling the town’s famous Route 66 meets Wild West streets, there’s enough to keep you and your family busy for at least a day (or two!). Here is the best way to spend a day in Oatman, Arizona.

Image Source: Mike McBey on Flickr

Morning

Breakfast at Olive Oatman Restaurant and Saloon

Address: 170 Rte 66, Oatman, AZ 86433

When you step into Olive Oatman Restaurant and Saloon, you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time. The wood plank exterior and sun-faded saloon sign add to its charm.

You can enjoy traditional American fare here with breakfast favorites including pancakes, French toast, biscuits and gravy, or bacon and eggs served with toast.

Or, start your day with a little kick and order chorizo and eggs. Then wash it all down with a hot cup of coffee or a cold glass of orange juice before hitting the streets to explore the rest of Oatman. 

Image Source: Vincent X on Flickr

Stroll Route 66 Through Town

For many, traveling the historic Route 66 is a dream. But if you visit Oatman, Arizona, that dream will become a reality!

You can literally walk the original Route 66 through this old mining town and experience all the nostalgia that comes with it. Just make sure you take a picture in front of a Route 66 sign to make it official!

Check out the Wild Burros

Route 66 and mining excluded, this town might best be known for its wild burros. Originally, these donkeys were used by miners to carry supplies. Now, they roam the streets of Oatman, charming visitors in hopes of being fed a delicious snack.

In fact, the stores in town sell bags of burro pellets so tourists can oblige the wild burros’ hungry stomachs. The burros in Oatman are friendly, but you should still use caution when interacting with them – as you would with any wild animal. 

Afternoon

Have Lunch at the Oatman Hotel Restaurant

Address: 181 Main Street, Oatman, AZ 86433

When lunchtime rolls around, you’ll want to walk yourself over to the Oatman Hotel Restaurant for some hearty American food. This historic landmark is the oldest two-story adobe building in Mohave County and is a favorite lunch spot for tourists.

The menu offers a vast selection of burgers and sandwiches, including the restaurant’s famous BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. Rest assured, though, if you’re in the mood for something lighter, you’ll find a delicious chef salad on the menu. 

Image Source: Joshua Noble on Flickr

Catch a 1:30 Gunslinger Show on Main Street

Oatman’s oldest gunfighting group, the Ghost Rider Gunfighters, perform a Wild West comedy shootout every day at 1:30 pm. You can’t miss it!

The gunslinger show takes place right in the middle of the streets of Oatman – just like an old-timey shootout would. And they use real guns with blanks, of course!

If lunch takes a little longer than expected or you get sidetracked by a hungry wild burro, they offer a later show at 3:30 pm as well. And the best part is the show is free! Although, they do pass a hat for donations to local charities.

Image Source: Beth Woodrum on Flickr

Check Out the Oatman Mine Museum and Learn About Its Past

You can’t visit an old mining town without touring a mine. Stop by the Oatman Mine Museum, where you’ll be regaled with stories from Oatman’s mining past. We hear it’s an extra spooky tour at Halloween!

Get Ice Cream at Olive Oatman Ice Cream Parlor

There’s no better afternoon snack on a hot day in Oatman, Arizona than ice cream. The Olive Oatman Ice Cream Parlor is located inside the Olive Oatman Restaurant and Saloon at the bar.

Here, you can walk right up to the counter and order classic flavors, like vanilla, strawberry, and mint chip. They have single and double scoops, waffle cones, and even sundaes! The ice cream will keep you satiated while you meander through the interesting shops in Oatman.

Image Source: Miss Shari on Flickr

Evening

Dinner and Drinks Back at Oatman Hotel Restaurant

It wouldn’t be a visit to a western town without dinner and drinks (emphasis on the drinks!). When you’re done shopping and exploring the streets of Oatman, head back to the Oatman Hotel’s full-bar for a stiff drink and a half-pound buffalo burger with “Burro Ears” (homemade potato chips).

If you’re visiting with friends, consider sharing a few of the appetizers on the menu, like Breaded Mushrooms, Chili Cheese Fries, or Wild West Buffalo Wings. 

And before you leave, may we suggest pinning a dollar to the walls of this historic hotel? If you can find an open spot! The walls at this eatery are covered from floor to ceiling in dollar bills left by tourists. It’s an odd tradition, but one that will certainly become a lasting memory of your day in Oatman, Arizona.

Image Source: Ken Lund on Flickr

Explore the Haunted Oatman Hotel Museum

Last but not least, head upstairs and take a hauntingly fascinating tour through the rooms of the Oatman Hotel. Many ghosts are said to roam this old inn, including the ghosts of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard who are rumored to have honeymooned in Oatman.

There’s also a friendly ghost named Oatie, who haunts one of the hotel rooms, playing his bagpipe and pulling silly pranks. He was an Irish miner who passed out drunk behind the hotel one night and never woke up.

Where to Stay?

If you’ve traveled to Oatman in your RV, you’re in luck! There are both free and paid camping options nearby. 

Oatman BLM Boondocking Site

This quiet boondocking spot is a beautiful place to extend your stay in the Oatman area for free. You can access this scenic desert BLM site from Oatman by heading southeast on Oatman Hwy. The BLM land is only about 6 miles from the town or a 12-minute drive. As with any boondocking, be prepared to live off-grid because there are no amenities or hookups nearby.

Crossroads RV Park

Your best bet for a place to stay with full hookups and amenities is Crossroads RV Park. Located about 10 miles from Oatman on Boundary Cone Rd in Mohave Valley, AZ, Crossroads is a quiet, inexpensive, and convenient place to park your RV. 

They have 30, 50, and 100 amp hookups on 30’ x 60’ concrete pull-through pads. Amenities include showers, laundry facilities, and Wi-Fi. Plus, you can’t beat their rates! Nightly rates are $35, weekly rates are $135, and monthly rates are only $320! You can check availability and make an online reservation here.

Oatman, Arizona may be a small town, but it’s big in spirit and pride! The people and wild burros will welcome you in with open arms and open mouths. From the moment you step foot onto Route 66, you’ll be swept away in the nostalgia of the old west. So, the next time you’re passing through Arizona, don’t pass up on a visit to Oatman!

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