Arizona's Top Wild West Cities

Explore historical Arizona in five of the state’s former frontiers By: Taylor Liptak
Jerome was once a boomtown, but now visitors come for its ghost town reputation. // © 2012 Jerome Chamber of Commerce
Jerome was once a boomtown, but now visitors come for its ghost town reputation. // © 2012 Jerome Chamber of Commerce

The Details

Arizona Office of Tourism

While beautiful Arizona is no longer the rich mining hub it once was and many of the boomtowns are now ghost towns, the quirky history of a time long past has been kept alive in many cities, where visitors are guaranteed memorable experiences full of unique art, culture and adventure.

Once a thriving mining city nestled in the forests of the Verde Valley, Jerome is a great stop for visitors looking for a haunted holiday. This so-called ghost town is home to the spooky Jerome Grand Hotel, where daring guests can look for paranormal activity on a ghost hunt. Dine at the hotel’s Asylum Restaurant and soak in the gorgeous views, or take in Jerome’s artistic culture with a live local music show at the Spirit Room at Conner Hotel. Visit during Halloween and experience the masquerade ball celebration.

Step out of the present and into the historic boomtown Tombstone. Take a historic tour via stagecoach, witness mock gunfights and pay your respects to fallen gunslingers at the Boot Hill Cemetery. The Helldorado Days festival, held on the third weekend of October, commemorates the legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, featuring a carnival, gunfights, fashion shows and more.

From beautiful Victorian homes and farmers’ markets to haunted hearse rides and spooky pub crawls, Bisbee offers tourists an eclectic mix of history, culture and thrills. Visit the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum to learn more about the once large and bustling city’s history. Take the Queen Mine Tour where a train takes explorers down into the depths of a copper mine or get geared up with the right tools to go on a ghost hunt at the Copper Queen Hotel to investigate the paranormal like a professional.

Entertainment is sure to be found every weekend in Chloride, including Old West reenactments and mock gunfights by the all-female gun slinging crew the Wild Roses. Visit on the last Saturday of June for Old Miner’s Day, Chloride’s biggest event of the year, complete with pie baking contests, food and craft vendors, more gunfights and a huge parade.

Located along historic Route 66, Oatman is straight out of an Old Western movie set. Walk the wooden plank sidewalk lined main street and browse the many novelty and souvenir shops. Dress up in Old West garb to get into the true spirit, and hand-feed wild burros that are straight from the mining days. Catch a daily Wild West shootout show and maybe even witness a shotgun wedding. Put your culinary skills to the test at the annual Fourth of July Sidewalk Egg Fry, a truly unique cooking competition.

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