Our Quick Fix of Route 66 in Oatman and Kingman

Route 66 Arizona

When Oatman popped up on our radar as a fun day trip from Las Vegas we had to find out if it was worth it. After some research we decided this little ghost town could be perfect for a quick Saturday trip. The bonus of the trip would be following Route 66 in Oatman to Kingman on our way home. Many day trippers might only visit the ghost town of Oatman before returning to Vegas. But we turned this day trip into an exploration of Historic Route 66 as well. We’re big fans of making the most out of every trip we take. And this little stretch of Route 66 from Oatman to Kingman was perfect for getting the most out of this day trip from Vegas.

Getting to Oatman Arizona From Las Vegas

The drive to Oatman from Las Vegas is pretty easy, but also kind of boring for the most part. There really isn’t much to look at between Las Vegas and Laughlin. Actually, there isn’t much to look at until you get to Oatman. Sure, there is desert landscapes and you’ll pass over the Colorado River, but overall it’s nothing spectacular. It’s a pretty quick two hour drive with most of it being on Highway 95. And even without much to look at, the drive to Oatman isn’t too bad at all.

Arriving on Route 66 in Oatman

Burros Blocking Route 66 Before Oatman
Burros Blocking Route 66 Before Oatman

As we approached Oatman on Route 66 we had our first encounter with the Burros that this ghost town has become famous for. We knew the Burros wandered the streets of Oatman, but we weren’t expecting them to block our path before we even got there. After a couple minutes we realized it was his road and he had no plans of moving out of our way. As soon as we drove around the stubborn Burro blocking our path he walked off the road. We think it was his way of saying “this is my town and you’ll do what I want you to”.

The town of Oatman was just beyond our Burro blockade and when we arrived it was pretty busy. Oatman isn’t a large town, so parking options are limited if it gets busy. There is street parking and the town has a small parking lot as well. We got lucky and found the last open spot in the rugged town parking lot. Our suggestion is to find a spot in the parking lot if possible instead of the busy street.

Exploring the Unique Town of Oatman

Like we said before, Oatman isn’t a very large town, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot to see. One of our first stops was Route 66 Leather & Gifts. What attracted us to this shop was the unique signage and sculptures outside the building. We love this kind of stuff, so it was pretty cool to see what they were selling. And honestly, the prices were really good. We expected to see high prices in what would be considered a tourist town, but were surprised at how affordable everything was.

Route 66 Leather & Gifts
Route 66 Leather & Gifts

Our visit to Oatman was the week before Halloween, so the creepy decorations added a spooky touch to this real Arizona ghost town. Haunted mines, skeletons, creepy dolls, and plenty of spiderwebs filled the streets of Oatman. The kids loved all of the decorations, and even if they won’t admit it, we’re sure they got scared by a few of them.

Oatman Arizona at Halloween
Getting to know new friends

About Those Oatman Burros

The Burros roaming the streets of Oatman really make this town unique. We didn’t personally feed any of them, but if you want to you sure can. Many of the shops sell Burro food for only $1 and they’re more than happy to walk right up to you for a snack. Oatman Burros appear to be pretty well fed so don’t feel bad if you don’t want them eating from your hands. There are plenty of visitors feeding them throughout the day. And even if you aren’t feeding the Burros you can still interact with them.Two Burros Hanging Out in Oatman

We even got to see a baby Burro during our visit. If you’re visiting Oatman and get to see one of these little guys be sure to read the tag attached to it. Whoever takes care of the in town Burros had a message on the baby that it shouldn’t be fed. It also seemed to get spooked really easily, so probably best to watch the little guys from a distance.

Baby Burro wanting food
Baby Burro wanting food

Eat and Drink on Route 66 in Oatman

Oatman seems to have a good selection of places to get a snack and a couple places to sit down and eat. We knew we would be heading down Route 66 toward Kingman when we left Oatman, so for the most part we just snacked while in town. We walked into the Oatman Hotel for lunch but after seeing the crowd inside we didn’t feel like waiting. We’ll go back when it’s not so busy and will be sure to try it. You get that real old west vibe in the place and the food looked and smelled really good. We also liked that they had some pretty good live music while we were in there.

Oatman Hotel
Oatman Hotel

Besides the Oatman Hotel you’ll also find places to get ice cream, Navajo tacos, fry bread, or a beer in town. For how small the town is, we were surprised at the number of places to actually get something to eat. This ghost town isn’t serving up high end dining, but what they have looks good and fun.

Oatman to Kingman on Route 66

Oatman could be a fun day trip from Las Vegas by itself. Throw in the drive to Kingman on Route 66, then add some activities in Kingman and you end up with a really great day trip. The drive from Oatman to Kingman on Route 66 really isn’t that long, but it is a really fun drive. A little warning about our definition of fun here. This part of Route 66 is very narrow, with many switchbacks, steep inclines, and there’s the possibility of having Burros in the road. With that said, the drive is amazing! The views you see while driving this stretch of Route 66 and the experience of it will stay with you forever. But be careful and watch far ahead of you. There is often not room for more than one car around the curves, so you need to be paying attention before you approach them.

Route 66 View Outside Oatman
Route 66 view from roadside turn off

Ending the Day in Kingman

We only spent a few hours in Kingman, but we’re already planning on heading back for a weekend trip soon. They call it the “heart of Route 66” and it really does feel that way. With motels, diners, and gift shops that appear to be locked in time, Kingman gives you a feeling of what this historic road was like 70 years ago.

Route 66 Sign in Kingman
Having fun on Route 66

One thing the kids really liked in Kingman was Locomotive Park. This park that is home to the famous Steam Engine #3759 should not be missed if you visit Kingman. Actually, it’s nearly impossible to miss. The engine is absolutely massive and is right across from the Kingman visitors center. We had a lot of fun climbing into the cab of this classic Steam Engine and the caboose that’s attached to it. We were all blown away by the sheer size of this engine.

Steam Engine #3759
Steam Engine #3759

After our pretty short exploration of Kingman it was time to eat. We had only snacked in Oatman so we were all getting pretty hungry. Our restaurant of choice would be Rickety Cricket Brewing for dinner before our drive back to Las Vegas. Some of us are beer fans in this family and the reviews were pretty good, so it seemed like a great place to try their.

Electric Chair at Rickety Cricket Brewing
Electric Chair at Rickety Cricket Brewing

Overall it was a really great place to eat and drink. The beer menu is extensive, so the beer fan in the family was happy. And for all of us the food was really good. Some stand outs were the Cheese Curds and Garlic Cheese Bites, but in reality everything we had was awesome. This could end up being a place we stop at any time we’re visiting Kingman. The food and atmosphere were good enough to make it that kind of place.

Heading Back to Las Vegas

After Kingman we took Highway 93 back to Las Vegas. We considered stopping in Chloride, which is another ghost town on the way, but in the end it was too late to make it worth while. Overall, it was a great day trip from Las Vegas. A decent amount of driving, but we didn’t get many complaints from the little ones in the back. If you’re in Vegas and are looking for a fun day trip we recommend following the route we took. Oatman was a unique ghost town experience. The drive from Oatman to Kingman on Route 66 although scary at times, is well worth the fright. And Kingman is a town we can see ourselves going back to many times. If you decide to take this Las Vegas day trip please let us know what you think.

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