By Cheri Sicard
Kyle and Olivia, the team behind the Drivin’ and Vibin’ YouTube channel (more than 127 thousand subscribers and 18 million views), have compiled their top five Arizona ghost towns in the video below. As Arizona is home to more than 150 ghost towns, narrowing it down to five could not have been easy.
The Desert Southwest is steeped in history, and these long-abandoned, or nearly abandoned, ghost towns give us a chance to imagine what life might have been like back in the days of the Old West.
These are great stops with lots of historic interest, but I am not sure I consider some of them ghost towns, as people still live in some of them, albeit not nearly as many as in their heyday.
So, which towns made Kyle and Olivia’s picks of top five Arizona ghost towns?
#1 Tombstone: The “town too tough to die,” Tombstone is arguably America’s most famous ghost town. The gunfight at the OK Corral took place here, and Tombstone was one of the last boomtowns of the American frontier due to the discovery of silver in the 1880s. Today it is a tourist stop with tours and gunfight reenactments, stagecoach rides and more. Maybe it’s a little cheesy, but this is nonetheless the site of major Old West history—and it’s fun!
#2 Jerome: You can spot Jerome, way up on the mountainside, when visiting Sedona. It’s worth the climb. In the 1920s, this was a booming copper mining town with over 10,000 residents. With rampant drinking, gambling, and prostitution problems, Jerome was once known as the “wickedest town in the West.” Today, Jerome has attracted many artistic residents. There is lots to see and do in the town and at the state park.
#3 Oatman: Located on the old Route 66, a booming gold town from 1863 to 1941, Oatman was once one of the largest gold producers in the U.S. Today there is a museum, a hotel, gunfight reenactments, and more wild burros than people living there.
#4 Bisbee: A mining boomtown in the 1800s, by 1900 Bisbee was the largest town between St. Louis and San Francisco, with a population of more than 20,000. The mine is still there today. The population is about 5,000 people, largely artists, and Bisbee has become a small, vibrant community more than a ghost town.
#5 Ruby: Just four miles from the Mexican border, Ruby was once Arizona’s largest mining camp. It’s also one of the best-preserved Arizona ghost towns—with the old jail, the old schoolhouse, and even old mining equipment still intact. The mine closed in 1940 and the town was abandoned by 1941. It’s now privately owned, but a $15 admission charge will get you in. While there are no attractions, Ruby might be one of the most authentic ghost town experiences you can have.