Oatman and Route 66

A few weeks ago, a friend of a friend asked me inquisitively, “Would you be interested in a free three-day, two night stay at the Golden Nugget in Laughlin?” Without much thought, I quickly responded with a “Sure”. Next thing I knew, I was given an envelope holding the special certificate. The only downside was Al and I didn’t have much time to schedule our get away considering the certificate was due to expire rather soon.

Thus two days later on Jaunary 31st, Al and I packed a small bag and hopped in my little red truck bound for Laughlin, Nevada. Since we were starting our journey in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, we guesstimated the drive would take a little over an hour allowing us plenty of time to dilly and dally and take a detour off the beaten path. And dilly dally we did!

Route 66 Arizona

part of our drive – traveling historic Route 66 in Arizona

One of my favorite things about blogging is engaging with you, my readers. I love your suggestions, recommendations as well as reading your own personal blogs enlightening me on sites to see and things to do. Thanks to a few of you, Oatman, Arizona made my list of places I wanted to visit, and it just so happen to be “kind of” on our way to Laughlin.

Oatman Arizona wild burros

A couple of locals welcome us to Oatman, Arizona.

Off the beaten path

Route 66The town of Oatman started life over 100 years ago as a mining tent camp, and quickly became a flourishing gold-mining center.

In 1915, two miners struck a claim worth 10 million dollars in gold, and within a year, the town’s population grew to more than 3,500.

But both the population and mining booms were short-lived. In 1921, a fire burned down most of the small shacks, and three years later the main mining company, United Eastern Mines, shut down operations for good.

Oatman survived by catering to travelers on old U.S. Route 66. But in the 1960s, when the road was rerouted to what is now Interstate 40, Oatman almost died.

Oatman, Arizona

Souvenir shops line main street.

Since then, Oatman has undergone a tourism renaissance thanks to the increasing interest in Route 66 and the explosive growth of the nearby gaming town of Laughlin, Nevada, which promotes visits to the historic town.

wild burros Oatman, ArizonaOatman is a fun little place to visit. It’s an authentic old western town with wild burros roaming about and gunfights staged in the street. Although the burros are said to be tame and can be hand fed, they can also get aggressive if you have food in hand. We watched one women get surrounded by the burros and nipped when she wasn’t giving them food fast enough.

And when I say food … for $1, purchased from any number of vendors, you’re given a paper bag filled with hay nuggets to hand feed the burros.

The towns people ask that you please not bring apples, carrots, etc. to feed the wild burros. It all has to do with burro poop  💩   After all, someone has to keep the streets clean of dodo for all the tourists. With that said, I do recommend you watch where you step! 🤭

baby burro Oatman Arizona

The baby burros are so dang cute. I couldn’t resist a little scratch behind the ears.

Do note, the little babies, aside from being irresistibly cute, have stickers on their head saying, “do not feed me anything“. They aren’t ready for solid food just yet and are still nursing. Thus, it’s not in their best interest to feed them any hay nuggets or anything else for that matter.

baby burro

Baby burros have stickers on their head requesting they not be fed anything.

Oatman’s “wild” burros are the descendants of burros brought here by the miners in the late 1800’s. When the miners no longer needed them, they were turned loose. Each morning these burros come into town looking for food. They wander the streets and greet the tourists and will eat all day if you feed them. Shortly before sunset they wander back to the hills for the night.

Oatman, Arizona

The town has some interesting signs.

Oatman, Arizona

The Oatman Hotel, built in 1902, is the oldest two-story adobe structure in Mojave County and has housed many miners, movie stars, politicians and other scoundrels. The town was used as the location for several movies such as How The West Was WonFoxfire and Edge of Eternity.

Oatman Hotel

Clark Gable and Carol Lombard honeymooned at the Oatman Hotel on March 18, 1939. Their honeymoon suite is still one of the major attractions at the Oatman Hotel. Gable returned there often to play poker with the local miners and enjoy the solitude of the desert.

Oatman hotel Arizona

Al and I ate lunch in “the Saloon” which is located in the hotel. Although the food was average, the atmosphere was entertaining and anything but average.

Oatman Saloon

Al getting ready to order lunch at “the Saloon”. Thousands of one dollar bills adorn the walls.

What’s in a name?

After a few other names were passed over, “Oatman” was chosen for the name of the town in honor of Olive Oatman, a young Illinois girl who had been taken captive by Indians during her pioneer family’s journey westward in 1851 and forced into slavery. She was later traded to Mohave Indians, who adopted her as a daughter and had her face tattooed in the custom of the tribe. She was released in 1856 at Fort Yuma, Arizona.

Oatman, Arizona

If you enjoy history and quirky out-of-the-way places, you’ll enjoy a visit to Oatman, Arizona.  Al and I spent about an hour strolling around town and another hour enjoying lunch at The Saloon.  It was a fun couple of hours and I’m glad we made the stop, but I don’t think I’d recommend venturing too far out of the way for a visit. Although the drive here was interesting and definitely worthwhile. Another place checked off my list!

Oatman, Arizona

Even Al couldn’t resist the cute little burro!

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75 thoughts on “Oatman and Route 66

  1. The burros seem to be the highlight of Oatman (interesting history of the name!); they are so cute. From your list to my list, I assume. 🙂 Whenever we pass in the neighborhood that is. Hope you had a nice stay at Laughlin as well.

    • Yes, you’ll want this on your list. Sometimes just driving these back roads is entertaining enough, but then add in the burros and western town and it makes for a fun time.

  2. Oatman is definitely a place I want to visit one day – even more so after reading your lovely post with the great photos. Thank you and greetings.

    • I enjoy finding these old American western towns … so much history. Oatman is an interesting and entertaining place. Thanks for stopping by and commenting 😊

    • We lived in Las Vegas in the nineties and wish we had explored more of that state. Hmm, maybe now we’ve got the time. Enjoy your stay at Lake Mead.

  3. When I was 10 years my family drove through Oatman while relocating from Holbrook AZ to LA. I would never forget its old west look and feel especially when your just 10 years old. You post and photos has brought it al back, thank you

    • Holbrook to LA? That had to be quite the transition for a ten year old…. gosh, for any year old 😃 I love stumbling upon old historic western towns like Oatman.

    • Those road trips as children are always fond memories. I wouldn’t mind traveling a bit more of historic Route 66 – don’t feel I need to drive the whole thing, just the quirky parts.

      • When we were in that area we were greenhorns then and did not know that there is something to check out there.
        By the way, Congratulations, we just read your tips about full timing in the “Outdoors Newsletter”

        • Congratulations??? This is the first I’ve heard about a Newsletter. Would you please email me the link. It took another blogging pal of mine to let me know one of my photos made Photograph of the day in Outdoor Mag 😀 How funny!

  4. What an interesting place!! I think I’d venture off the beaten path just to see those adorable donkeys!! The history behind Oatman is so interesting!!
    That was a lot of dollar bills on the walls!! Interesting!!
    A definite place to visit!!

    • Yeah, we really lucked out. I lost count how many burros were in town that day and I think I saw at least 3 babies. Hmm, with that luck maybe I should’ve dropped a few bucks at the casino in Laughlin 😄

  5. Love Oatman. We visited in 2016 approaching from the north and make my a loop back to Kingman where we were staying. Very pretty drive. At one point there is a group of memorials. Interesting to see how people have honored the departed.

    • I’m very curious about the road between Kingman and Oatman. Looks to be a very twisty winding road on the map. So I’m sure the landscape is interesting along with those memorials.

  6. What a great post. I am in love with Route 66 and all things “americana” . This is right up my alley and looks like such a neat place. Tons of history as well – wow. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. We love that little town of Oatman…we usually stay in Bullhead City for December and January…we buggy ride cross country to Oatman!! We did read that someone had shot 2/3 of the burros a few months ago….so .very sad!!! Hope you enjoyed your “Laughlin” vaca!!

    • Sounds like a lot of fun to four-wheel over to Oatman. So many 4×4 trails to utilize that UTV. Oh no, that’s sad that someone would intentionally shoot a burro. Laughlin was fun for a short spell.

    • You’ll definitely want to make a day trip over to Oatman. If you have food, they’ll be your friend 😄 Guess we lucked out by the large number of burros in town that day. Every day is different.

  8. Oh, those burros are adorable! Fun reading your story about the town. We’ve enjoyed traveling various stretches of Route 66 but haven’t yet made it to Oatman. If we find ourselves nearby we’ll definitely stop. Looks like the burros have made a good life for themselves. 🙂

    • We too have traveled stretches of Route 66. It’s something I’d like to do a bit more. Yeah, I’d say those burros have made a pretty good life for themselves. They are entertaining!

  9. Bev and I have visited Oatman many times in the 22 years that we traveled to Yuma for the winter. Great place to visit for a day. With a small vehicle (Car or truck) Taking the the back road to Laughlin is a lot of fun although the road can be rough and is not for trailers or a large vehicle. There are some pretty sharp turns.

    • I’m glad we took the drive with just the truck. Some of the dips in the road don’t look too trailer friendly. Pretty country, but desolate and harsh.

  10. This has been on my bucket list since my friend Karen from Ohio (who you have met) went there! So… your post just added to my curiosity!

    Great post and lots of info.! Love it! Thank you!

    Miss you bunches! 🤗

  11. We went to Oatman years ago when we drove as much of Rt 66 as we could. Cool little towns along the old road, the baby burro reminds me of when your baby bama in TX. Seen a lot of those dollar bill tourist stops in our travels.

    • Over the past few years, we’ve driven parts of Route 66 but never ventured too far off the beaten path. I’m glad we made this detour.
      Yes, we too have stumbled upon more of these unique restaurants adorned with dollar bills … like Tortilla Flat. Always fun!

  12. We had a blast in Oatman too. The burros are so dang cute. They didn’t wear stickers when we were there. The Classy Ass….what a hoot.
    Thanks for the info on the name. I learn something new each day.

    • I guess, the stickers on the babies heads is relatively new. Since the burros are the main attraction in Oatman, the towns people keep a close eye on their health and well-being. I found the history of the town name kind of interesting.

    • You were one of the first bloggers to comment and enlighten me on Oatman. Thank you! The town was a fun stop and the drive to Oatman was interesting. The landscape is so raw and desolate. We drove up from the south and looks like it could be even more fun north of town.

  13. I’d have immediately gone into The Fudge Bar…yum! Luv the burros and the town. And, Al has a kinda Chip Gaines look to him. Any good with a hammer?! 🤓

    • Oh yeah, Al and I have a serious fudge problem and rarely pass up an opportunity to snarf up that delectable treat, but we managed to save ourselves for a chocolate treat in Laughlin (in my next post).
      😆 Thanks for the Chip Gaines comment. Al and I are still laughing. We once owned our own home building company. Thus, we have a lot in common with Chip and JoAnna!

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