I often heard about the town of Oatman and that they had burros there that came right up to you, but I had never been there. I wondered if they were friendly, could you pet them or did you need to watch them from afar? Well, we made a trip to Oatman, and I got my answers.

The Burros

Since the burros are what Oatman is most known for now, let’s start with them then we’ll get into more of the town. The burros are decedents from the burros used by the miners back when Oatman was a huge gold mining town. When they shut the mines down and the miners left, they released their burros into the desert. They closed the mine in 1941 and the burros you see today have thrived since then. The answers to my questions above are yes, they are very friendly, and you can get close to them and pet them. You can buy food to feed them at a couple of the stores in town, but BLM has been encouraging people not to do this because the burros need to continue to survive in the wild instead of relying on people to feed them. However, some of the store owners do have food and salt blocks out for them. If you do decide to feed them, please only feed them the food you buy from the stores. This is specifically made for the burros that meet their nutritional needs. As you are driving up to or leaving Oatman, please be very careful because the burros tend to walk on the road.

A Little History

Oatman is an old mining town in Northwestern Arizona. It is in the Black Mountains of Mohave County on Route 66. The town is named after Olive Oatman, a little girl from town that was captured by a local Indian tribe who used her as a slave for 5 years and then sold or traded her to the Mohave tribe who took care of her from then on. There are a few speculations as to which tribe originally abducted her, but no one knows for sure.

Oatman was one of the biggest gold producers before the government shut the mines down in order to found other ores needed for the war. The mines were shut down in 1941.

Other activities

When you get to Oatman, a ghost town may come to mind as the buildings look like the old west with its wooden sidewalks and stores with great funky names. The stores are run by townspeople and many of them have handmade items in them or items from Arizona including Native American pottery and jewelry. There is also a great candy shop here.

The most historic place in Oatman is the Oatman hotel. When you enter the hotel, the bottom floor is a restaurant and saloon. The saloon has a really fun tradition of people putting a dollar bill on the walls or ceiling. This has been going on for decades. On the second floor is a museum of Oatman and has the original honeymoon suite where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon after getting married in Kingman. There have been quite a few movies filmed in Oatman including How the West was Won and Edge of Eternity. The hotel is the oldest two-story adobe building in Mohave County. Lots of history here.

They hold many activities during the year, like The Great Oatman bed race, so be sure to check and see if there is anything going on when you are planning to visit. They do have the Oatman Ghost Rider Gunfighters doing two performances daily starting at noon. Be sure to check them out.


Although Oatman is not off of a main highway, it is on Route 66 which makes it a historic place to visit just because of that. But it is so much more, with lots of history, great stores, a museum and of course the burros. Who doesn’t love a burro. Although there isn’t anywhere to stay in Oatman, there are plenty of towns within an hour that has accommodations. If you head toward Laughlin, you’ll find the Avi Resort and Casino which not only has a casino, but many amenities including a pool and golf course. You will also find a wide variety of hotels in Kingman, AZ or Bullhead City, AZ. I hope this help answer questions you may have had about Oatman or has helped you find a new place to explore. We love to travel and tell people about our adventures to inspire you to find your own adventure. It doesn’t matter if you take a long vacation or a day trip near your home, there is always something new to explore. Please see more of adventures on this website. If you would like to see some of video adventures, click here. https://youtu.be/L-CRHuYfyrs

By Greg and Peggy

We are two people who love to travel, thrift and play slot machines. We love going to new places, especially if there is a casino! We just want to share our adventures with people and hope to inspire them to explore and have fun!

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