While grandson Chris was visiting, we wanted to show him Kartchner Caverns and Tombstone. We got on the first tour of the morning. Reservations are necessary in the busier times of year, but, at least on this day, we could have arrived and gotten on a tour. To be safe, I would have reservations, though.
There are two tours: The Big Room and the Rotunda/Throne Room. During the summer months, the Big Room is closed because bats raise their young there. Each tour is 1/2 mile walk and wheelchair accessible. You board a tram at the visitor center and ride to the entrance. Rules are reviewed- no touching anything but the hand rail because of the damage it causes. All bags, purses, cameras, canes, etc., must be left in your car or a rental locker, again because of the damage to the caverns they can cause. Since we couldn't take a camera, we have no photos of the inside. You'll have to go there yourself! The history of how this became a state park is fascinating and we are lucky the discoverers and land owners were so into preservation.
We finished in time to head to Tombstone for lunch. We ate at the Longhorn, which turned out to be a good choice. It started raining just as we went into eat so that added to the fact that it had good food. Chris managed to eat this whole burger- all 16 ounces of meat! The backroom had several lighted glass murals, this one depicting Tombstone's most famous - or should I say infamous- event: The gunfight at OK Corral.
The streets weren't too busy because of the rain. We wandered around the town, listened to music at Big Nose Kate's and Chris found some souvenirs. You could take a stage coach ride - a good way to get the feel of coming into town way back then. Tombstone in the late 1800s was a silver mining town. It became a wild town with characters like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Bat Masterson and the Clanton Gang.
When Bill (my late husband) and I stopped in 1992 on our maiden RV trip out West, we stopped in Tombstone. Our favorite thing was a tour of the Bird Cage Theater. The Bird Cage has an amazing story and we got a wonderful tour in 1992. From this visit, we can't show photos of the inside because the owner has not gotten back to me with permission- you need written permission to use them on Facebook, web page or blog.
We were most disappointed in the tour. I believe it cost around $2 in 1993; now it is $10/person. There was no tour. The young woman at the desk, apparently in a hurry to take her break, let us into the theater, pointed us in the right direction and gave no introduction. When I mentioned in the gift shop on the way out about how much better the tour was in 1992 and that we were told nothing of its fascinating history, one of the women down there went into the spiel. As we left, she handed me a brochure describing some of the things we saw. Since it was a self-guided tour, we should have received that when we bought our tickets! What a non-tour. If you do go, insist on the ticket seller giving you an introductory talk. Friends who were there earlier in the spring, said their seller pointed out some of the bullet holes and gave them an orientation and introduction to what they were going to see just inside the door. And ask for the tan brochure describing the theater.
Our last stop was at Boot Hill. I've wanted to see that but hadn't. You go in through a building where a donation is requested but not required. You can purchase a map of the graveyard, which is helpful if you want to find a particular tombstone or want a little background on those buried here. Last summer when Chris and cousin Tim were here, we saw a re-enactment of the shootout at OK Corral in Prescott. I wanted to find the graves of the Clanton gang. And Three-Fingered Jack Dunlap, a train robber shot when attempting to rob an express car, sounded interesting!
The grave yard is quite large, with quite an assortment of characters buried in 11 row. This fellow - Johnson - was hung by mistake, the tombstone notes, though by then it was too late. And here's a shot looking up several rows from the Clanton gang's graves.
Both of these places should be in your Arizona RV travels if you have not ever seen them. Kartchner has camping at the state park right by the Caverns. In Tombstone there are several RV parks to choose from including one right near OK Corral. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak