While in Benson, Celia and I couldn’t miss visiting the old mining town of Bisbee highlighted in one of our favorite blogs. Described as “America’s Best Historic Small Town” in USA Today, this funky enclave has morphed from a bustling mining town of years past to the quirky town of 5000 residents it is today. Copper was the name of the game and this town produced billions of dollars’ worth before being tapped out.
While hunting for Apaches in and around the Mule Mountains in 1877, scout Jack Dunn discovered rich copper ore. Soon claims were staked and Bisbee became a boomtown, named after a judge who invested in the Copper Queen Mine.
Today Bisbee boasts wonderful Victorian homes, shops, galleries, museums, and other buildings. The influx of new residents have created colorful street scenes that make for a great place to visit. The locals will cite the “vibe” that drew them here.
The town has taken advantage of this wonderful location and has many restaurants, bars, shops, and other tourist friendly spots. Inexpensive properties and great weather have attracted a diverse group of residents to Bisbee and account for its charm. Located in rolling mountains, this town is quite different than say Tombstone or Benson. The drive to the town itself is wonderful and its higher elevation provides a respite from some of the warmer Arizona locales.
One of the most intriguing urban walks you will experience is the Bisbee 1000 route up and down the hills of the town. The “1000” is not hours, minutes, or meters, but the number of steps! Colorful street art guides the way. There is an annual Bisbee 1000 event each year in October.
There is also a Bisbee 1000 map that we grabbed at the Visitor Center, which is in the same building as the Queen Mine Tour. They were very helpful there. I would recommend stopping there first. We didn’t do the mine tour as we figured it could not be any darker than the ones we did in West Virginia!
Residents have year round house decorations.
Bisbee, with its narrow winding streets, is a walking town, which is fine with us since we drive a one-ton dually truck! We found a place to put the Silver Fox and left it there the rest of the day. Believe it or not, there is a campground in the heart of the town on top of the Queen Creek Mine. We checked it out since it was blogged about here. The views from the campground are great, but it is quite small and has a very sharp entrance turn. One advantage of this campground is that you can just walk into town from your site.
After seeing so many brown and tan buildings in Arizona, the ones in Bisbee really stand out.
You don’t have to have a camper to camp in Bisbee. The Shady Dell has many refurbished vintage trailers that can be rented. You can’t actually bring your own rig there.
We only had one day in Bisbee, but hope to visit it again. There are so many wonderful things to see and do that we will keep a list for a later date.