Weekend Road Trip to Tombstone and Tucson, AZ
The town of Tombstone had been tossed around a few times as a unique place to visit, but I never gave it much thought. It wasn’t a spot I had heard about before moving that had been on my bucket list, let alone radar. I hadn’t heard much about it besides googling where I should go while visiting.
I swear, this town had to be one of the most unique places I’ve visited. It’s like the whole place is stuck in the 1800s out in the wild west. There’s locals walking around with their cowboy hats, boots, and spurs, their belt buckles holding their guns, amo, and knives (a little scary). No cars are on the main, gravel roads, only horses and their carriages walk those roads. That old, rustic, feel is carried out throughout the entire town, the vibes seeping through the walls full of over a hundred years of stories. Anyways, Tombstone was the first stop.
Check in: Wyatt's Hotel. Visit: Bird Cage Theatre, Crystal Palace Saloon, Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park, Tombstone Boothill Graveyard, Big Nose Kate's Saloon
Kartchner Caverns State Park Tour. Check in: Ramada by Wyndham Viscount Suites Tucson East Visit: San Xavier del Bac Mission
Saguaro National Park
Explore, then drive home
I left around 10 a.m. to drive to Wyatt’s Hotel in Tombstone. It was right in the middle of downtown and walking distance to everything I did there. Once I arrived I didn’t have to get into my car once. I stayed in the Queen Victoria Suite, one of two rooms in the hotel, and it was absolutely beautiful. It wasn’t one of those modernized hotels, this room was seriously designed for a queen. Antique furniture filled the room, the gray velvety bedspread glistening from the sun shining through the lace drapes. I felt like royalty.
First, I went to the famous Bird Cage Theatre. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to post any photos from inside the theatre, but the self-guided tour was very cool. Inside you’ll see the old stage, the ceiling and walls littered with bullet holes. It’s said that the spirits of former cowboys and prostitutes still roam the walls of the theatre.
I ate a late lunch at the Crystal Palace Saloon, then went over to tour the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park before they closed. This red brick, Victorian style, two-story courthouse served Cochise County from 1881 until 1931. There is a lot of dark history in this town, and the locals seem to fully embrace it, their motto being “The Town Too Tough to Die.” When you walk outside the courthouse you’ll find the “Invitation to a Hanging,” where seven men had been hung in the Gallows, the nooses still swaying in the wind to this day.
We then headed over to the Tombstone Boothill Graveyard. This one we probably should’ve taken the car since there weren’t any sidewalks for half the walk, but it was only a little over a half of a mile from where we were. It truly amazed me how many graves just sat there, their tombstones marked “unknown.” Some gravestones even gave reasons for their death, mostly by gunshot wounds.
For dinner we ate at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, where they had a whole act played out where someone was being ‘hung.’ That was not something I’ve ever experienced or expected to see while enjoying my dinner.
Next on the agenda was the Dead Men Tales Walking Ghost Tour that I booked through tripadvisor. (I’ll dive more into the paranormal beliefs about this town in another story). But, overall the tour was very fun, interesting, and creepy.
We got some breakfast then headed over to the O.K. Corral for one of their reenactment shows on their Shootout Site. According to a map drawn out by Wyatt Earp, this was the exact spot where this shootout began years and years ago, leaving three cowboys dead. The sounds of the fake gun shots continued to make me jump throughout the entire show.
Now, it was time to start heading towards Tucson. We stopped at Kartchner Caverns State Park on the way. It was only $23 so I did the Rotunda/Throne Tour which was absolutely stunning. We weren’t allowed to take anything inside the cave, not our phones, wallets, water, nothing. The reason being that they don’t want anything dropped or anything touching the walls of the cave that could potentially cause damage to its natural habitat. The other reason being that phones always distract us nowadays. We become more focused on getting that perfect photo then taking in the beauty right in front of our eyes. Although I was sad to not be able to capture how massively gorgeous this cave was, I loved that one of the reasons there’s a no phone policy is to force you to be fully engaged in the present moment. The tour isn’t much money at all and it’s something I think everyone should see, so if you’re ever in the area I highly recommend stopping inside the park. Reserve your tickets online for tours prior to arriving.
We hit some traffic on the way to Tucson so we didn’t have as much time to explore as I would’ve liked. We stayed at the Ramada by Wyndham Viscount Suites Tucson East, I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking for a hotel in the area. It was just very run down and felt dirty. We went to the San Xavier del Bac Mission which was absolutely stunning and a great place to go if you’re looking to get some unique Insta pics.
Then we tried driving to the Tucson Boneyard. I put it in my GPS and we accidentally got in a line to get into the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base with no chance to turn around. So, we waited until, as expected, we were told we couldn’t enter the base. I’ve seen so many beautiful photos from up above of all these planes just sitting there in this massive field, but I looked and couldn’t find any nearby hiking spots or mountains to be able to catch a view of them.
Saguaro National Park
Today I got to check another National Park off my list, Saguaro National Park. We decided to hit the west side of the park and stopped in at the Red Hills Visitor Center to get some trail recommendations. We did the Valley View Overlook Trail and Bajada Loop.
We didn’t get many miles in because even though we got there pretty early in the day, the sun was beating down hard. After a few miles I started feeling pretty lightheaded, so I didn’t get to explore the area as much as I would have liked. That being said, my first impression of the park was that it was astonishing how many cacti were everywhere, no matter where you looked you were surrounded by cacti. However, out of the National Parks that I have visited I would say it wasn’t one of my favorites. It reminded me of a lot of hikes I’ve done in Arizona, but I also didn’t get to see much of it. I definitely want to check out the east side next time I’m in the area.