March 19 2010 by Matthew Clyde
This old western, mining town that almost was placed under martial law until military troops were able to restore order and once had a larger population than San Francisco is now a hidden gem of a tourist spot about an hour drive from Tucson, Arizona. If you need a destination to release your inner cowboy, there is no better spot than Tombstone - the town too tough to die.
Tombstone is perhaps the most renowned of Arizona's old mining camps. When Ed Schieffelin came to Camp Huachuca in search of mining prospects, he was told that he'd have better luck finding his tombstone rather than silver. But in 1877 Schieffelin named his first silver claim in the region and named it Tombstone. Quickly the rumors of riches made a boomtown of the settlement.
Today, Tombstone is a historic landmark and its authentic buildings and streets are now full of tourists, gun shows, stage coach rides, museums and real-life cowboys (the real deal, no costumes - they live and breathe the cowboy life) . In fact, when we pulled up in our mini-van and unloaded our three kids, my sons' mouth dropped as a couple rode up on their horse, tied them at the post and walked in to the saloon for a lunchtime drink.
Like any tourist destination there are the somewhat cheesy stage shows with re-enactments of gun fights, famous outlaws and saloon brawls. The kids sat mesmerized in each and they felt like they had been transported back in time. Highlights include the shootout at the OK Corral and a Stage Coach ride around town. There are also haunted, ghost tours, animal acts, saloon shows and plenty of old west trinkets to keep your kids playing cowboy for many days to come.
Giddy up. Hitch a ride to Tombstone and experience the true Wild West.
Highlights of Popular Attractions:
The Bird Cage Theater Museum
Tombstone Courthouse State Park
Tombstone Ghost Tour
Six Gun City Old West Show
The Best Western Lookout Lodge features newly renovated rooms and sits right near the edge of town.
Tombstone is an hour outside of Tucson and about 3 hours from the Phoenix metro area. From Phoenix or Tucson head east on Interstate 10, until you come to Benson where you'll head south on State Highway 80.