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Need Help with Tombstone/Bisbee part of my trip to Arizona

Need Help with Tombstone/Bisbee part of my trip to Arizona

Old Nov 14th, 2008, 07:06 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 455
Need Help with Tombstone/Bisbee part of my trip to Arizona

I am now working on setting up the Arizona part of our trip which is to start in Phoenix and end up in El Paso two weeks later (at the end of Jan into Feb).

Having been to Phoenix last year we will be staying only one night before we depart for four nights in Tucson. In Tucson we have reserved 4 nights at the Adobe Rose Inn and plan to sight see in Tucson for the 3 days that we are there. Needed are recommendations for places to see off the beaten path, and good restaurants. We will , of course, visit the desert parks and take walks there.

After the Tucson days we have alloted 2 nights in Tombstone and/or Bisbee. Long ago we visited the area with very little time alloted so now we want to explore more. Any suggestions? We are thinking of the Queen Mine tour in Bisbee among other things. We like historic places, scenic areas, interesting walks (no more than 4-5 miles, but prefer less).

So how would you plan these 2 nights (one full day)? Hotels or motels in which town? Restaurants to visit? After leaving this area we plan to take Route 80 through Douglas to Silver City, New Mexico for two nights.

Or are we spending too much time in this area?
Thanks, Margo
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Old Nov 14th, 2008, 08:25 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
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For tucson take the drive up to Mt. Lemmon, really nice scenery on the way up. That time of year could have snow, so check road conditions. The desert musuem is a must also.
Do visit Kartchner Carverns on your way to the Tombstone/Bisbee area. Really amazing limestone caves.
We preferred Bisbee to Tombstone, felt Tombstone was too touristy, but you may like it. Although we did like the old cementry in Tombstone.
I do not think you are spending too much time at all in this area, it's a wonderful area and there is more i want to go back and see that we missed.
We stayed in a really nice B&B in Ramsey canyon which is about 20 minutes from Bisbee. So i can't give you any recommendations on where to stay right in Bisbee but it looked like it had some nice B&B's also.
joeyi is offline  
Old Nov 14th, 2008, 07:02 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Visited Bisbee last winter and while I did not stay overnight, I did have an enjoyable day checking out shops, museums, mine, etc. It is also known as a great birding area if that interests you. You may find more information at: or If you like history, the Titan Missle Museum just off highway 19 near Green Valley is a must see. Also to be assured of getting tickets to tour the Kartchner Caverns, I would suggest you order them on line in advance. At that peak time of year, they are often full except for very few daily tickets issued very early in the morning of the day of the tours. That is a very interesting place.

IMO Tombstone has more "cowboy" tourist appeal and Bisbee more mining appeal, but we have taken guests to both places with each place being a favorite with different guests. There seem to be more reinactments on weekends in Tombstone, but the above web sites may give you specific dates for activities in each town as well as getting info from their Chamber of Commerce offices.

Sabino Canyon and Dessert Museum are favorite places to visit in Tucson as well as the national parks. U of A has a wonderful art exhibit which changes often and there is a good state history museum also on campus.

It is wonderful time of year to visit with many things to do and see. Restaurants are varied and plentiful in Tucson so more information as to foods, price, or atmosphere would be helpful in order to meet your specific recommendations.
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Old Nov 14th, 2008, 07:13 PM
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While a dessert museum sounds awesome, I really meant desert museum---sorry!
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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 06:16 AM
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Certainly take the Copper Queen Mine tour - a great tour. We took it one year and then the next year took the tour of above ground Bisbee. While not as spectacular as the underground tour, it was very interesting and worth while.

Exploring Bisbee on your own is also fun. Be sure to visit the old county building/Jail.

Tombstone is fun, very touristy. Take at most 1/2 day. Do it in the afternoon and see the shootout at the OK Corral. Visit Boot Hill.

Consider a visit to Ft. Huachuca.

On your way east, I would visit Chiricauha National Monument.
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Old Nov 16th, 2008, 06:38 AM
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Yes Tombstone is touristy, but I'm an Old West fan and loved it..I'd allow one full day there, want to go back and tour the Bird Cage and the courthouse.
In Bisbee, we stayed at a B&B that was a replica of a schoolhouse, just on the edge of town...enjoyed our stay there.
From Bisbee we went down to Douglas, then on our way back north, stopped at Chiricauha Nat'l Monument..recommend that.
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Old Nov 16th, 2008, 08:26 AM
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Forgot to say that the museum in Bisbee received Smithsonian accreditation a few years ago...very interesting and definitely worth a visit.
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Old Nov 16th, 2008, 12:22 PM
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Thanks, everyone, for the advice. It looks like the place to stay is Bisbee. The number one hotel according to Tripadvisor is Hotel San Ramon. Anyone stayed there? Also I have recommendations for The Copper Queen Hotel and 2 B&B's: The Schoolhouse B&B (is that where you stayed,Beatle?) and The Sleepy Dog Guesthouse. We would prefer to have TV in the room, (I know, how sad, but that is the way it is).

I guess we must see Kartchner Caverns while in the area, as we are bypassing the Carlsbad Caverns later in our trip. Any comparison of these two caverns?

Thanks, Margo
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Old Nov 16th, 2008, 01:18 PM
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We also stayed at the Schoolhouse B&B. Really enjoyed it. The rooms are big and they serve a great breakfast in the morning. We enjoyed sitting out on the patio at the Schoolhouse but in Jan you'll probably be inside unless it's a warm day. As far as a TV-we just went down to the lounge area and watched TV a little the first night we were there. Next night we were too tired and after enjoying some wine on the patio went off to bed.

The Copper Queen Mine Tour was a big hit and we also enjoyed Chiricauha National Monument. I really don't think you'll see anything quite like Chiricauha. I grew up in Arizona and didn't even know it was there. Had to come back from CA to spend time there.

If you want a nice dinner in Bisbee try Cafe Roka but you will need reservations.

I had been to Tombstone as a kid but as an adult didn't really like it. The day we were there was really hot so maybe that had something to do with it. All the shops are the same so it got old fast. But do spend some time at the Bird Cage Theatre. It's worth the admission price. I think there is a good museum in the City Hall building but we didn't have time to stop there.

This is the route we took going to Bisbee. When you leave Tuscon, head south on I19. Stop and see St. Xavier Mission. Then go east on Sahaurita Rd until you run into Highway 83 and go south to Sonoita. There are some nice wineries in the area of Sonoita and Patagonia and we stopped at a couple of them. The steers came to greet our car as we drove up one of the winerie's dirt road. We then went east on Highway 82 connecting with Highway 90 through Sierra Vista into Bisbee. Driving through these vast open areas which aren't desert but grasslands was just gorgeous. So much better than staying on the Interstate. We had lunch at the Grassland Cafe in Sonoita which is a vegetarian restaurant and bakery. Very good food. There are also a few other restaurants. Here is a link to this part of Arizona that is not very well known.

We then visited Tombstone after we left Bisbee on our way back to Interstate 10. You would miss the Kartchner Caverns going this way but you could do them as a side trip during one of your days in Tucson.

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Old Nov 16th, 2008, 01:24 PM
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Sounds like an interesting 2 weeks. We stayed at the Copper Queen in Bisbee a few years ago and enjoyed the old feel of it - didn't see the resident ghost though, darn. Mine tour was interesting as well.

While the drive up Mt. Lemon in Tucson is scenic in good weather, I would not take that much time on a first visit to Tucson. The Desert Museum definitely is a must and can take a good part of a day. The old downtown historic district is interesting (IMHO)including the Tucson Museum of Art (it includes various exhibits as well as the 2 oldest houses in Tucson and a nice cafe for lunch). Sabino Canyon is worth a few hours. The Air Museum out by the airport is great if you have any interest in old airplanes. There are a number of other places - Sajuaro National Park West for flora and fauna,for one. We love Tucson. Enjoy your trip.
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Old Nov 16th, 2008, 01:53 PM
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On your way to Tombstone and Bisbee you should be able to observe large flocks of wintering Sandhill Cranes south of Wilcox. More info here:

Also along the way is Chiricahua National Monument. We hiked a nice loop through an bizarre landscape there for a couple of hours. Highly recommended. More here:
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Old Nov 16th, 2008, 02:36 PM
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I have been to both Carlsbad Caverns and Kartchner Caverns, and for me the winner is Kartchner.

At Carlsbad, I really liked walking down into the caverns via the natural entrance. The path winds down quite a ways and you really get a good feeling for the depth of the caverns. We did the self guided Big Room tour as well as the ranger guided Kings Palace tour.

We would like to go back and do some of the other tours which are more primative - the only light being the lanterns that the ranger and tour participants carry. But generally when people visit Carlsbad, it's the Big Room plus maybe the Kings Palace Tour. There are crowds and even a snack bar / t-shirt stand down in the cave.

The Kartchner caverns were discovered in the 70s and kept secret for many years thereafter and eventually became a state park (The history of the caves is fascinating in and of itself). The state has been a good steward of the caverns, keeping the ecological impact of humans on these caverns to a minimum. These are living caves, where the geologic processses that formed the cave are still ongoing, almost undisturbed by man.

There are many interesting formations: curtains, stalagmites, stalactites, soda straws, fried eggs, turnips etc. The tour are limited to small groups (20 maximum for the Rotunda/Throne Room tour and 15 for the Big Room tour). The Discovery / Visitor center is very well done and there is also a lovely native plant garden. It is all very relaxing as there generally aren't large crowds due to the limited tour capacity.

Due to the limited tour capacity, it is best to get your tour tickets in advance. The following is a link to the website:

We did the Big Room tour and I am looking forward to going back and doing the Rotunda / Throne Room tour. We live in Las Cruces so it's just a little farther to Carlsbad than Kartchner, but if we have out of town guests, we would definitely head for Kartchner rather than Carlsbad.

I would love to hear about your trip. We are planning to head over to Tuscon for a few days, sometime in the next year, to see Tombstone, Bisbee, the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum and the Saguaro National Park.

Have a great trip

eveningcrane is offline  
Old Nov 17th, 2008, 04:21 AM
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Margo..Yes, it was the Schoolhouse B& Paula said, great breakfast and very amicable hosts..
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Old Nov 17th, 2008, 04:42 AM
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From a headstone in the old Tombstone cemetary:

Four shots from a '44.
No Les, no Moore.

You gotta love that old west sense of humor.
I liked Tombstone aside from the tacky souvenir shops.
I particularly loved the old photo shop by the OK corral. I could have spent hours looking at all the old photos. I swear you can still hear them talking.

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Old Nov 17th, 2008, 06:59 AM
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The comment about Kartchner Caverns being well protected (both from the outside environment and vandalism) is VERY true. On the Throne Room tour you go through 3 HUGE metal doors - each one closed and sealed before the next one is opened. I felt like I was entering Fort Knox.

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Old Nov 17th, 2008, 12:18 PM
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If you like mystery novels, read the Joanna Brady series of mysteries by J.A. Jance. JA grew up in Bisbee and Joanna is the female sheriff of Cochise county (of which Bisbee is the county seat). The books are an easy and fun read.

If anyone has a chance to hear JA at a book signing, they will find it enjoyable.
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Old Nov 17th, 2008, 12:19 PM
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Such good information, you all. Especially the comparison of Carlsbad and Kartchner Caverns. We will very likely make an effort to get there.
And, eveningcrane, (where did that name come from??) since you are from Las Cruces, this question is for you. We will be spending 2 nights (1 day) in Silver City, NM, then driving either via route 152 to Caballo, then down route 25 to Las Cruses OR from Silver City down 180 to route 10 to Las Cruses then down to El Paso on route 10. Which is the more interesting route? And what to see along the way. Tell me about Las Cruses and what to see. Do you have any suggestions for El Paso?

Lots of questions, I know. Finally what is the weather like at end Jan. in Las Cruses.

Thanks, Margo
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Old Nov 17th, 2008, 03:23 PM
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bigtype-Love the Joanna Brady series. I read them quite a while ago. I think it's about time to read them again.
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Old Nov 17th, 2008, 07:56 PM
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Bisbee is the place to stay if chosing between Bisbee and Tombstone.
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Old Nov 17th, 2008, 11:40 PM
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I may go to Bisbee just to see these vintage RVs
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