When visiting Route 66 in the Kingman, Arizona area it’s worth your time to take a detour and visit Oatman which is set high in the Black Mountains of Arizona. The living ghost town has a population of about 100 people and is home to dozens of wild burros that roam freely throughout the streets. These adored donkeys have become part of the tourist attraction and have no problem nudging the unsuspecting visitor in hopes of a treat.
In the early 1900’s Oatman was a booming gold mining town that used the burros to pack supplies in and out but by the time of WWII the town had dwindled and the government required other metals, so the miners abandoned the town and set the burros free. While there are only a few dozen that roam freely throughout the town, the surrounding hills are home to more herds. The burros that roam the town and surrounding hills are direct descendants of the original pack animals brought in by the gold miners.
When Route 66 was built Oatman was in its peak and managed to have the highway redirected to pass through the town. The road took you along the winding and narrow Sitgreaves Pass. It was a difficult and hazardous road to travel and in 1953 Route 66 was rerouted south of Oatman to make travel across the highway easier. The old route is still active today and part of the Historic Route 66. It’s a beautiful drive, a fun encounter with wild donkeys, and a recommended side trip.
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