Miles from the strip: About 128 miles or 3 hours (one way)

Oatman, Arizona, located in the Black Mountains of Mohave County, started as a mining camp after prospectors struck gold in the area in the early 1900s.   Often described as one of The Ghost Town that Refuses to Die”, quite a fit description for a town with over 10,000 people and now has a little over 100 residents year-round.  Oatman also lies along old route 66.

It is well worth visiting this ghost town, even though Oatman is only a fraction of what it used to be.  There are many historical buildings and great photo opportunities.  The resident burros walking the streets and gunfighters simulating an old west style shootout can be enjoyed by family members of any age.

Both historic and entertaining, Oatman is an old mining ‘ghost town’ that’s alive.  In 1860, Oatman was an area where miners mined for gold, but the town began to grow as a mining camp in 1915.

circa 1860: Studio portrait of Olive Oatman (1837 – 1903) who was the only member of her family to survive being captured by Yavapai Indians. She was sold to the Mojave tribe who treated her kindly but tattooed her chin with the mark of a slave. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The town name of Oatman was chosen in honor of Olive Oatman, a young Illinois girl who was captured and enslaved by Indians, and her family members were massacred on their journey in 1851.  Olive was sold to the Mojaves, who adopted her and tattooed her face in the customs of their tribe.  In 1856 she was released to her brother, who had survived the family massacre.

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The Oatman Hotel is now a museum and boasts that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard honeymooned there in 1939 and continued to come back for the peace and friendliness the town provided.  A few tourist trappy stores are available, and you can grab a bite to eat, but the main attraction is the ‘wild’ burros that wander the streets. They are very friendly and love treats, and there’s plenty of places you can get souvenirs and even adopt one to take home.

If you stick around long enough, there are wild west shows in the streets simulating an old west style shootout that’s fun to watch.

Many Route 66 diehards continue to visit Oatman.  In the 1920’s it was still a booming town and was fortunate to be centrally located between Kingman, Arizona, and Needles, California.  Route 66 was changed in 1953 to make a more accessible route south of the mountain passes.

Visiting Oatman will take all that the desert offers from the open highways and twisty turns through valleys on Route 66. There is an endless amount of sights to see on this route. You can also check out Hoover Dam, Lake Mean, and the Colorado River.