Oatman, AZ could just be another mining town with a gun fight on the hour every hour but it has one thing that sets it apart from all the others like it: burros. Located along old Route 66, Oatman, AZ was a gold mining town that developed almost overnight, as most mining towns in the West did. Donkeys (also called Burros) were used in mines all around, hauling water, hauling rock, hauling just about anything they could get them to haul. And when the gold rush died out the miners let the burros go free.
Luckily, the Burros not only survived being set free, they thrived. Now this long stretch of Route 66 is known as Burros Highway and you can see wild Donkeys all along the route. We spotted group after group grazing on the hillsides of this winding stretch.
The town of Oatman has done what it had to to survive: depending on the charm and appeal of the Wild West and Western Towns. They have a gun fight in the middle of the one road town a couple times a day, they have saloons with decent food, and small shops with all the Western tourist trinkets you can dream of.
But the thing that makes this town unique is the Burros; they practically run this town. As you drive in you will be stopped by burros in the center of the road. As you walk along they will come up to you and try and see if you have food in your bag. These burros are a part of the town. The particular line of burros that lives in town has become dependent on food from the town. Because of this, you can buy bags for a $1 and as soon as they see you carrying that small brown paper bag they will corner you until you feed them.
Oatman, AZ is worth the detour off highway 40. It on a gorgeous stretch of old Route 66 and while there are many other Western towns you could go explore, this one has donkeys. Lots of them. All over. Every where you look. Tons and tons of adorable Donkeys.
Been to Oatman? Share your experience in the comments.