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Why Do People Visit The Thing in Arizona?

Why Do People Visit The Thing in Arizona?

Strange, mysterious, and controversial, The Thing in Arizona draws visitors from around the globe every year.

But is it some thing, or is it a museum, or something else entirely? We wanted to know, so we did some digging to discover more about The Thing.

Let’s take a look!

Where Is The Thing in Arizona? 

Follow The Thing billboards along I-10 between Tucson and El Paso to Bowlin Travel Center, part gas station-gift shop, and part museum. The Thing is 15 minutes east of Benson, Arizona, at 2631 North Johnson Road in Dragoon, Arizona. 

To see it, you must walk through the museum past various exhibits and a 1937 Rolls-Royce, among other items.

In 2018, The Thing Museum went from a random collection of items to a story of alien conspiracy theories. It now includes quirky “Aliens VS Dinosaurs” displays and mind-controlled dinosaurs ridden by aliens.

“What if” questions, sprinkled throughout the museum, invite visitors to question everything.

The roadside attraction ends with The Thing display, a mummified mother and child. Or is it? 

Arizona driving sign.
After arriving in Arizona, go on a hunt for The Thing.

Where Did The Thing Come From?

Thomas and Janet Prince purchased The Thing for $50 in the 50s or 60s from Homer Tate. The Princes set up a shop where travelers paid less than $1 to see The Thing along with a handful of relics.

Visitors were and still are, invited to make their own conclusions about it. 

Some believe The Thing is the mummified bodies of a mother and child who starved to death in the desert or perhaps shot by cowboy bandits.

Others think the “King of Gaffes, Homer Tate, famous for creating sideshow oddities such as fake shrunken heads and mermaids, made it.

Pro Tip: On the hunt for a haunt? Check out these 5 Spooky Ghost Towns in Arizona.

What Else Is There To Do Around Benson, Arizona?

Discovered in the 70s and established as a state park in 1988, Kartchner Caverns is 30 minutes southwest of The Thing. Underground guided tours are open to the public, where visitors can learn about cave fauna and stalactites.

If a scenic ride on horseback is more your style, drive 45 minutes northwest of The Thing to the Double R Ranch.

There you can learn to ride tame horses, do a little bird watching, and explore the surrounding mountains. 

Visit The Thing Museum while exploring Arizona.

Best Hikes Near The Thing

After contemplating the mysteries of The Thing, exploring the Kartchner Caverns, and horseback riding at the Double R Ranch, you might be ready for a nearby hike in the Dragoon Mountains. 

Cochise Indian Trail in the Dragoon Mountains

The Apache warrior chief Cochise and his people took refuge in the Dragoon Mountains. Now, hikers and equestrians can explore the area. The trailhead and day parking are located at the Cochise Stronghold Campground, approximately 21 miles southeast of The Thing. 

Visitors can view granite boulders and sycamores along the challenging trail. In addition, you’ll find surprising landmarks such as the lush Cochise Spring and the Halfmoon Tank, a watering hole built in 1952. The Stronghold Divide separates the east and west sections of the Dragoon Mountains and marks the trail turnaround point.

Flash floods are possible along the trail, so use caution. The hike is between 6 and 10-miles round-trip, depending on the route you decide to take. Restrooms are available at the campground for hikers, and there is a day-use fee of less than $10.

Slavin Gulch Trail

The Slavin Gulch trail follows a road once used to haul ore from Abrail Mine, between 1914 and 1952, along Slavin Gulch. The rocky path is a moderate 7-mile out-and-back hike without facilities.

Although there are two trailheads, the western trailhead along Middlemarch and Forest Road 687 is the best start. 

Hikers can only reach the eastern trailhead with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The trail weaves through grasslands, oaks, thickets, boulders, and thin rock spires known as hoodoos.

Keep an eye out for gentle white-tailed deer and chirping songbirds as you trek through the gulch.

Best Camping Near The Thing

After a long day of exploration, you can rest up at the two nearby campgrounds less than 30 minutes from The Thing. Triangle T Guest Ranch is just 8 minutes away, and San Pedro RV Resort is 20 minutes away.

Triangle T Guest Ranch

Established in 1922, the 160-acre Triangle T Guest Ranch has hosted dignitaries, such as the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts. The ranch has also appeared in westerns. Triangle T has full hook-up campsites, and guests can enjoy horseback riding, bird watching, and swimming.

Location: 4190 E Dragoon Rd, Benson, AZ 85602

San Pedro RV Resort

The San Pedro RV Resort is within the San Pedro Resort Community, with resort amenities and long-term residents living in manufactured homes. All RV campsites are full hook-ups, and campers can enjoy on-site community events and activities. 

Location: 1110 AZ-80 #1, Benson, AZ 85602

Keep in Mind: The Thing isn’t the only unique thing in Arizona. Read more to find out about The Original London Bridge in Arizona.

Is a Trip to The Thing in Arizona Worth It? 

Absolutely. If nothing else, for the photos and oddity of the place. It’s legendary, unforgettable, and it will make a great story to tell around the campfire. The Thing is also close to explorable caves and horseback tours. You can capture mountainous backdrops and explore epic and scenic hikes steeped in history. 

All this, plus comfortable camping, is available less than 60 minutes away. It’s certainly worth a trip! Have you been to The Thing? What was your favorite part?

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