In the northwest corner of Arizona, discover a town full of rugged character…and burros.
Nestled in Arizona's rugged and remote wilderness, this tiny town's rich Wild West history comes to life with staged shootouts, wooden sidewalks and a bounty of burros that roam freely. At first glance, the wild burros of Oatman seem to steal the show but dig a bit deeper and you'll discover the town's raucous mining history and a vibrant main street that plays host to various events throughout the year.
The world-famous Oatman burros
Oatman is best known for its beloved burros—small donkeys descended from miners' beasts of burden. The town is home to more burros than people, and it's not unusual to see dozens of donkeys in Oatman wandering the main drag, sticking their heads through the rails along the wood-plank sidewalks, nudging people for treats and otherwise delighting visitors. The burro has become such an integral part of Oatman's identity that the town now plays host to an annual Burro Biscuit Toss, where residents and visitors alike compete to see who can throw a dried-out, gold-painted burro dropping the farthest.
Get your kicks
Running right through the middle of Oatman is a stretch of the historic Route 66, the famous road that was the main highway route across the United States from the 1920s through the 1950s. Be sure to explore the road in the afternoon, as the Oatman Ghost Rider Gunfighters put on two free shows daily. The friendly performers ask the crowd to gather around in the street while they act out a heist, complete with loud gunshot blanks. And don't forget to pick up a souvenir or two—from biker gear and mining memorabilia to donkey puppets and Southwestern art, you can find it all in the shops that line the town’s main drag.
Add a dollar
History buffs can learn all about Oatman's mining boom days at the Oatman Hotel (formerly the Durlin). The historic hotel today houses a bar and restaurant on the ground level and a museum on the second floor—including the Clark Gable/Carole Lombard honeymoon suite. Patrons have placed one-dollar bills on the saloon's walls and ceiling for decades, a tradition that continues today.
Into the wild
With the Black Mountains rising all around it, Oatman is surrounded by sharp-toothed ridges and forbidding rock formations. If you take Route 66 in either direction from town, you'll be greeted by a plethora of otherworldly views—watch for Thimble Mountain to the west and Elephant's Tooth to the east. If you have time to venture even farther afield, continue south on Route 66 for another 25 miles or so. The drive will take you through Joshua tree-dotted ridges and needle-topped peaks before arriving at the marshy banks of the Colorado River.