Tombstone and Bisbee

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Tombstone & Bisbee are two old mining towns an hour and an hour and a half  southeast of Tucson. Both are major destinations in their own right.
Here the history of the Old West is palpable. Tombstone, of course, is world-famous for the 1881 Gunfight near the OK Corral. Bisbee’s old town is a classic example of a thriving mining camp that became an unbelievably prosperous little city in the middle of a vast desert.

There is no way to fully enjoy Tombstone and Bisbee in one day. We recommend two days at least. And if you have the time, we recommend several outstanding side trips, such as Kartchner Caverns, Ramsey Canyon Preserve, and the ghost towns along Ghost Town Trail, particularly Gleeson.


    • If you want to know the real history of Tombstone, and not just the tourist version, call ahead for a reservation on Dr. Jay’s Walking Tour.
    • If you’re looking for excitement, try to arrange your visit to Tombstone on a day when Tombstone Vigilante’s and Vigilettes are in the middle of Allen Street recreating the Old West: Helldorado Days; Wyatt Earp Days; Vigilante Days; etc. Check our Events Calendar.

For more ideas of things to do in Tombstone, see our Tombstone article on Things to do in Tombstone or read about some Local Tombstone History.


In Old Bisbee, at the very least, visit the Bisbee Mining & History Museum and the Queen Mine Tour. You can view a video of each above. And then either walk or drive up into the hills above the old town just for the history and the view. For more things to do see our Bisbee Page.

    • Like Tombstone, Bisbee puts on several special events during the year. Brewery Gulch Days; Bisbee Blues Festival; etc. Check our Events Calendar and try to time your visit accordingly.

For some background history on Bisbee see our Local History page. For our recommended places to stay or avoid in Bisbee, see our Bisbee Lodging Reviews. Click on the link for our Bisbee Dining Reviews.

The Earp Vendetta Ride Revisited

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Steve Shaw’s Great American Adventures will take you on the trail of the famous and infamous, the heroes and scoundrels of the Old West. These adventures on horseback last several days and combine the rugged beauty of the American West with authentic history and Native American culture.

You can bring your own horse & tack or the experienced wranglers will provide everything you need: horse, tack, food, historians, and more. All riding abilities accepted. Non-riding spouses may also participate.

The next opportunity to experience the Earp Vendetta Ride takes place October 12th – 17th, 2014 at Tombstone, Arizona. This is your chance to ride where Doc and Wyatt tracked down some of the men who wounded Virgil and murdered Morgan following the most famous gunfight in American history. Learn more at For brief histories of this time & place, click HERE.

The slideshow below has photographs from prior years.

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Wyatt Earp's Vendetta Ride begins with the "Meet & Greet" on a Sunday evening at the Crystal Palace Saloon. The Crystal Palace Saloon hawks back to the late 1800's ... a place the Earp's, Doc Holliday and the Cowboys frequented, a perfect meeting place with just the right ambiance.

Although not mandatory, most riders and non-riding spouses come dressed in "period clothing" for the evening. Most riders dress period the entire week. Several sources for clothing vendors are mentioned on the Great American Adventures website.

During the "Meet & Greet" riders are deputized as Vendetta Riders and then the games, such as Faro, begin.

Monday, our first riding day, after breakfast in Tombstone we meet Tombstone's Official Historian for a private walking tour of Tombstone. This tour sets up the ride. Our historian details the events that led up to the O. K. Corral, the faction between the Earp's and Cowboys, and the unique history of Tombstone.

Our private tour takes us on the very walk the Earp's took on that fateful day on October 26, 1881 and into the O. K. Corral. What folks think they know or what they never knew will be discussed. If you love the history of Tombstone, the Earp's and Cowboys, this tour is not to be missed.

Monday afternoon, we drive to our first trail head. This ride is suitable for all riders, from the novice (never ridden before) to the advanced (loves to gallop) and this afternoon we are introduced to our horses by our very capable wranglers. Once mounted, we take the same ride to Mescal Studios' Tombstone (where the film Tombstone was filmed) as the Cowboys took in the movie. This gives us time to get acquainted with our horses.

Now on the set of Mescal Studios, we take advantage of all the photo opportunities available to us. The "Vendetta Riders" pose in next to one of the more dominate building on the set for a group shot.

Those more comfortable at a walk will get their photo on the set as they walk their horses past the many old west town facades.

Those comfortable at a lope or gallop and have volunteered to do so, will gallop down the street of Mescal Studios for their photo op.

Mescal Studios is still used to this day for special productions and we must get permission from the studios prior to our visit. Once there, we can't help take a lot of photos, ride around the set and identify the many buildings from the various movies filmed there.

This particular shot was an attempt to duplicate the "Vendetta Ride" from the movie Tombstone. Many like this one better. This photo has appeared in many magazines, on posters and postcards and was a finalist photo for Arizona's Centennial 2012 photo contest.

Tuesday we ride through the rugged Whetstone Mountains ... our destination is Cottonwood Springs, where Wyatt killed Curly Bill. To this day the controversy continues as to where exactly Curly Bill was killed (if he was killed at all).

At Cottonwood Springs, our historian explains, with diagrams and maps, the controversy between the various sites where Curly Bill was killed ... Mescal Springs, Iron Springs or Cottonwood Springs. Based on Wyatt's exacting description of the site, all that visit here leave believing this is the site. Only historians and Vendetta Riders have visited this remote site.

Our ride to Cottonwood Springs is called, appropriately enough, Curly Bill Day. A lot of us dress up as Curly Bill from the Tombstone movie.

Our third day out we ride to Cochise's Stronghold. Not only is this area spiritual to the Native Americans, it is one of the most beautiful rides of the week. The scenery is magnificent.

Once at Cochise's Stronghold, we meet our Native American historians. We learn about Cochise, Geronimo, the fight for their way of life and how the Apache could live off this arid land. We are told, "when the white man sees this land, they see starvation. When an Apache sees this land, they see a feast." We will sample some of what the Indians made from the desert plants.

Upon conclusion, our guides call upon the Great Spirit in song and dance.

The next day we ride to Fairbank and Contention, and along the San Pedro River. These are all areas the Earp's, Doc Holliday, and the Cowboys frequented. This ride also gives a perspective of the distances rode back in the 1880's.

One of the highlights of the week is riding down Allen Street in Tombstone. The citizens of Tombstone and visitors come out to greet us, wave at us and take our photos. This is the closet one can get to being in a parade.

Our Vendetta Posse, usually numbering from 20 to 30 riders, stretch two city blocks and is spectacular.

The last day of the ride, another favorite, is our trek to South Pass, where Wyatt and his posse killed Florentio Cruz. The rolling countryside, so different each day of this ride, is one of scenic beauty.

The West, and especially southern Arizona, offers wide open spaces to ride, plus the historical significance of each day of the ride.

In the afternoon, a must see is Johnny Ringo's supposedly haunted gravesite.

We honor Johnny Ringo with a toast (to ward off his ghost from haunting us) and pose for a group shot around his gravesite.

Of course, as with all of our riding days, we take advantage of photo ops ... and being silly.

A photo next to Johnny Ringo's headstone is a must!!

Our last evening, we celebrate our ride with great food and music around the campfire.

ok-corral-sign_blockLearn more about the sights of Tombstone on our “Things to Do in Tombstone” page.

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Tombstone Times Monthy Publication

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Our thanks to Keith Davis of Goose Flats Graphics and Janice Hendricks of the Tombstone Times for providing historic photographs of Tombstone and Bisbee. We will be using more of these priceless images in upcoming features.
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For more information about Tombstone, a map of the town and Cochise Country, and other nearby points of interest, visit their

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