Lake Mead N.R.A.

Lake Mead N.R.A.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Our Visit to Oatman, Arizona

October 11, 2010, Bill Williams River NWR
Today we took a long ride out to Oatman, Arizona in the northwest corner of the state. The ride took us along Historic Route 66 from I-40 north. We were both surprised that Route 66 was so narrow, twisty and hilly. In fact there were signs indicating that trucks over 40 ft. were not allowed. 
It's a beautiful drive through the desert. After about 80 miles of driving from Parker, Az we finally arrived at Oatman and the tiny visitor center on the outskirts of town. After getting a little history lesson we found a place to park our Jeep on the north end of main street in the quant old town and began our walking tour. This leg of the former Route 66 is now called Oatman Rd., the main street through town.
One of the first things you see are the Wild Burros standing in the street. In fact when driving through town we had to wait till the burros let us pass. Oatman is famous for the burros.
Oatman was once a gold mining town. The town has a rich (in gold) history to include a fire in 1921 that destroyed many of the original buildings. Shortly thereafter the largest mine near the town shut down and by the 1940's all the mines were shut down. Oatman was able to survive however by catering to motorists and tourists because fortunately for the town, Route 66 passed through the center of the town. This kept the town alive till the early 50's when Oatman was bypassed by Interstate 40.
Oatman nearly died once the interstate opened. However, enterprising parties turned the town into a tourist attraction thanks to the wild burros that frequent the town for handouts and the renewed interest in Historic Route 66.

Built in 1902, the Oatman Hotel survived the fire of 1921 and is the oldest adobe structure in Mohave County. We ate lunch in the hotel on the first floor in a room with dollar bills stapled all over the walls.
Although "wild" the burros appeared to be very tame as they walked up on the porches and pressed visitors for treats of carrots. Most of the shops sold burro treats. The burros are not shy and will trot up to you and check your purse and / or pockets if they think you have treats or anything in your hands.
Looking down Historic Route 66 from the perspective of a burro.
The story goes that the burros are descendants of those belonging to the old miners that were let loose after the mines closed. 
After leaving Oatman, we continued north and east towards Kingman on Historic Route 66 again enjoying the twisting switchbacks of this scenic road as we climbed to Sitgreaves Pass at 3550 feet before descending towards the valley and Kingman, AZ.
From Sitgreaves Pass looking southwest towards Oatman
Just before reaching Kingman we jumped on I-40 West and then turned south headed back towards Parker, AZ and the Bill Williams River NWR. It was good long drive and worth the trip!

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