Find those fun and funky “special” places across the country. Hit the road and discover all the odd roadside attractions that make getting there more than half the fun. Road tripping gives you an excuse to search out hidden gems along your route. Look inside for suggested trips and inspiration to plan your own camping gem journey.
Prepare yourself for a dose of the chills when you encounter the ghostly past of these southern Arizona sights. Set near Phoenix and Tucson, these two destinations have enough hauntings for any visitor.
Superstition Mountain, just east of Phoenix and Apache Junction, is a 3,000-foot tall bastion of ghosts and legends. The Pima Indians called the mountain Ka-Katak-Tami, or "The Crooked-Top Mountain." It is said that they feared the mountain, believing it to be the sacred grounds of the Apache and their Thunder God. Other legends say that the Apaches killed many visitors to the mountain, giving the Pima very good reason to avoid it. The modern name probably comes from local farmers who considered the Pimas’ fear to be superstitious.
The Mountain is the setting for many legends about lost gold, the best know of which is the Lost Dutchman Mine. This so-called Dutchman was actually German settler Jacob Waltz who was born in 1910. Jacob claimed that he struck gold in the mountain sometime between 1868 and 1886. When he died in 1891, Jacob left only this series of clues to direct future generations to his mine:
From my mine you can see the military trail, but from the military trail you can not see my mine. The rays of the setting sun shine into the entrance of my mine. There is a trick in the trail to my mine. My mine is located in a north-trending canyon. There is a rock face on the trail to my mine.
While some people believe the Dutchman’s Mine is the very wealthy (and long-since discovered) Peraltas Cache, others feel that it’s still hidden in the mountain canyons. Aside from looking for the mine yourself, you can pay a visit to the Superstition Mountain Museum, tour the ghost town, and enjoy hiking among the giant Saguaro cacti and desert wildflowers.
Boaters will enjoy floating and paddling with scenic canyon views at nearby Verde River and Canyon and Saguaro lakes. You’ll also find a gorgeous scenic drive by following the Apache Trail toward Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake.
Set southeast of Tucson, Tombstone is Arizona’s best known mining and Old West town. Known as “The Town Too Tough to Die,” Tombstone enjoyed a rough beginning that was marked by lawlessness and violence. Lawmen struggled to maintain order in the face of gun battles, raids, and strong-arm tactics. Everything came to a head during the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral, when the infamous Wyatt Earp battled Clanton in 1881. After the shootout, the town went on to produce millions of dollars worth of silver and gold from its mines.
Today, visitors are entertained with regular gunfight shows, live music and dancing in the saloons, and stagecoach and wagon tours of town. You can visit the Boot Hill Graveyard and Gift Shop, picking up mementos from your visit and exploring the gravestones. Tombstone’s City Park is a great place to enjoy a stroll or a picnic lunch. Many guests enjoy a tour of the 1882 Tombstone Courthouse, including the jail gallows, and old-fashioned courtroom.
Be sure to swing by the Crystal Palace Saloon, for an old-timey experience of gaming, girls, and drinking – and a bite to eat. Fans of art and artists will want to visit the OK Corral art gallery and the Tombstone Art Gallery to see works by local artists. And the kids are sure to love a visit to Halldorado Town amusement park.
To delve a little deeper into Tombstone’s past, head to the Schieffelin Monument, about two miles outside of town. Schieffelin was a life-long miner who prospected in Tombstone, in Alaska (during the 1882 gold rush), and in the Pacific Northwest. He died in 1897 at the age of 49 and was returned to Tombstone for burial.
- Category: Camping Gems