Laughlin Buzz

Dec 5, 2014

Burros and Dollar Bills

A Visit to Oatman, AZ

Oatman is an old Gold Mining Town Dating back to the late 1800's.  The town is located up the mountain hill from Laughlin, NV and Bullhead City, AZ.  The famous old Route 66 road passes right through the middle of town.

After several years of hearing about how wonderful the little mountain town of Oatman is we finally made our first trip there.   Despite the crowds of people we were surprised just how much we enjoyed it.   Here are our pictures and a bit of background about Oatman.

The "Wild" Burros

There is little doubt that the burros that wander the streets of Oatman are the main attraction.  Some people say that without them the town would lose it's appeal and tourism.  The burros are descendants of burros brought here by the miners in the late 1800s.  Each morning they come into town looking for food.  Shortly after the sun sets they go back into the foothills of the mountains for the night.

Burro food is sold at a few of the shops.  Carrots are sometimes brought by visitors but are discouraged.  According to a couple shopkeepers we talked to, the carrots make the burros more aggressive and may cause other health issues.  And here we thought carrots were good for you.  They do seem to shun the burro food if they know carrots are in the vicinity.  On a busy day like it was when we were there they seem to eat all day long. 

The Bureau of Land Management now discourages the feeding of the burros completely and fines can be given, but this doesn't appear to be enforced.    For the most part the burros seemed docile and friendly.  We did see one braying loudly after being rejected while becoming amorous with another female.  Luckily this was off the main street.   If they see you have other food besides the burro food some become more aggressive too.  Even for candy or ice cream cones.  Other people have reported burros reaching in their car for food.    Just keep in mind they are wild animals and despite their sleepy disposition they can be a hazard.  Watch out behind them for a random kick.  We have even heard of people visiting the hospital with a finger bite. 

The Burro's don't seem to be bothered by anything.  Not loud cars, motorcycles or even a random dog (leashed).  But don't bring your dog for their own and the burros safety. 

 Oatman (the tourist area) is basically one street lined with shops and attractions.  The street is one lane each way with wooden sidewalks.  Burros, of course, have the right away.  Inside the shops there is a vast array of just about anything Oatman and Arizona related.  Many of the them sell handmade products, leather goods, knives, Indian jewelery and many other unique items. We went later in the afternoon and stayed until sunset so didn't get to visit very many of them.

On the weekends they stage old west style gunfights on the main street.   We heard one happening but were at the other end on the Saturday we visited.  So, we missed it. 

The Oatman Hotel is one of the most visited attractions.  Built in 1902 it still looks the same as we expect it did back then.  Historians say it is the oldest two-story adobe structure in Mojave County.

 In years past it has housed miners, politicans, and even the occasional movie star. The most famous were Clark Gable and Carol Lombard, who honeymooned at the Oatman Hotel March 18, 1939. 

The Oatman Hotel is rumored to have it's own ghost named Oatie.  One sign said he is often seen on the stairs leading up to the second floor. 


No Oatie was seen in any of our pictures of the hotel. 

The bar and restaurant of the Oatman Hotel are covered with dollar bills that have been signed by visitors and stapled or taped to the walls, doors, and even all the way up to the ceilings.  One estimate is that there is over $100,000 in singles on those walls.  It is hard to even find an empty spot and many are taped right on top of other ones.  Some are very old and yellow with age.  This pic below is just one tiny section of the wall by the door to the restaurant. 

The Hotel restaurant has a standard menu with burgers, etc.  The food was good, priced for tourism (three of us split an appetizer, two burgers, and three soda's for about $34). They were out of many menu items the day we were here. But it was late and the crowd was probably much bigger than expected due to the beautiful November day.  It's not fine dining but where else can you dine surrounded by so much money, atmosphere and maybe even a burro looking in the window at you.    

Here are just a few more of the random photos we took:

This little guy was sleeping every time we went by him. 

Beaver Mining?

Feel like getting married in Oatman?  They can even host a shotgun marriage ceremony for you.  We saw the little wedding gazebo on the main street but missed the picture of it. 

On the fourth of July it gets hot enough that they hold an annual fry an egg on the sidewalk contest. 

Other events are scheduled periodically.  

Check the Oatman Chamber of Commerce website for more info on upcoming events. 

We will be back to visit again and recommend the little diversion from the "big city" of Laughlin. Especially since we discovered how easy a drive it is.  We recommend going up Boundary Cone Rd off of Hwy 95 as the easiest, fastest route.  Here is a map (click on it for a larger view):

The other route apparently has more curves and takes longer even if it seems closer to Laughlin.  

Tip:  Time your visit so you are leaving as the sun sets and catch the amazing sunset coming back down the hill. 

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All pictures and video herein are copyrighted and were taken by Laughlin Buzz. You are welcome to use them or share them for your own personal use.  If you do we would certainly appreciate a shout out or credit. Thank you! 

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