The Wildest Town in the West: Tombstone Offers Visitors a Blast from the Past


In a vacant lot near the OK Corral, the three Earp brothers and Doc Holliday faced down three notorious cattle rustlers in an epic shootout. When they emerged victorious, their heroic story would forever put the town of Tombstone, Arizona on the map. While the Wild West may have become a bit more settled, there’s still a piece of history preserved in Tombstone, making it an excellent spot for anyone looking for a unique experience in Arizona.

The National Park Service declared the town “one of the best-preserved specimens of the rugged frontier town of the 1870s,” and it’s not hard to see why. While plenty of new structures have popped up, and alterations have been made to make old buildings more visitor-friendly, the town still maintains much of its historical aesthetic. Founded in 1879 by Ed Schieffelin, a prospector who found a vein of silver, Tombstone became one of the most prosperous mining towns in the country, producing millions of dollars worth of silver.

Within just a few years, the town of Tombstone had grown to include everything from a bowling alley to churches to banks and over 100 saloons and was home to thousands of people from all walks of life. Unfortunately, as the mines became less profitable and closed up shop, the town’s population began to move away. By the early 20th century, it was virtually a ghost town.

Today, however, the town is once again thriving as a hub for tourism. A reenactment of the famous shootout at the OK Corral occurs three times a day, giving visitors a feel for what it must have been like to witness gunslingers in the Wild West. There are saloons that have been restored, museums featuring artifacts from the town’s early years, and the historic Bird Cage Theater has been reopened and offers nightly ghost tours to those brave enough to see the explore the haunted theater that was referred to as the “wildest, wickedest night spot” back in its heyday.

Tombstone is just one of the many incredible things to do in Arizona. When looking for family-friendly things to do, make sure Tombstone is high on your list. It’s close enough to Tucson to make a day trip, or if you’d rather stay, there are plenty of accommodations available in Tombstone itself. The good news is, the fun doesn’t stop in Tombstone. All over the state, there are plenty of chances to hike, relax or even ride an ATV out into the desert at sunset.

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