Here’s a question from a reader of RVtravel.com about boondocking.
We’ve had a lot of fun traveling about Southern Arizona this winter exploring popular as well as lesser-known places. After we do our wildflower thing we’re heading back north to our home in Iowa for the summer. But before we go, can you suggest an off-the-radar historical place to visit that doesn’t get mentioned much in tourist guides. —Butch and Mae
Hi Butch and Mae,
From the sound of your question, you’ve probably been to Tombstone in southeastern Arizona and seen the re-creation of the infamous Gunfight at the OK Corral. Can you imagine hearing the gunshots, visualize bullets ricocheting off the stone blocks of the bank building, Virgil diving for cover behind a wagon, Doc firing around the corner of a red brick building, and Wyatt taking careful aim from beside the horse trough? And when the gunfight was over, seeing several of the Clanton gang sprawled dead in the dusty street?
This scene, where the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday killed the suspected cattle rustlers, has played out in movies, TV shows, books, and in the popular Tombstone re-creations. If your imagination relives these Wild West scenes, I have a place for you to visit. Did you know that you could visit the infamous Clanton brothers’ ranch, where the suspected rustled cattle grazed in 1881 when Virgil Earp was U.S. Deputy Marshal and City Marshal of Tombstone, and his famous brother Wyatt was deputy U.S. marshal for the entire Arizona Territory?
To find the ranch – and it’s a little tricky – from Sierra Vista, drive northeast toward Tombstone to Escapule Road, an easily missed dirt road heading south (to the right) a mile before you reach the Charleston Bridge that crosses the San Pedro River (I’m assuming you’ve already explored the great birding along the river).
In about three miles there will be a BLM road marker (hopefully it’s still there) and small parking area. Walk about a mile to the south along a fence until you come to a gate marked “Clanton Ranch” with some of the letters missing. Go through the gate, but from this point on let the ghosts of the Clantons guide you to the decayed remnants of the former buildings and the old corral. Only a few crumbling walls and scattered pieces of rusty metal remain, but as you wander through the grass and under the towering cottonwood tree, try to visualize one of the Clantons, branding iron in hand, meticulously changing the brands of the newly acquired cattle to match the Clanton brand.
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .