In the late 1800’s, fortune seekers flocked to a small mountain town just shy of the United States/Mexico border known as Bisbee, Arizona. Bisbee’s Mule Mountains were home to staggering deposits of precious metals such as gold, copper, and silver. As word of Bisbee’s natural bounty spread, the town’s population ballooned. Bisbee steadily became one of the most celebrated mining towns in the West.
By the mid-20th century, Bisbee’s mining boom had started to cool. In the 1970’s, the shuttered Copper Queen Mine was renovated so that visitors could board a train and take underground mine tours. Starting in the 1960’s, wandering artists and hippies who felt other bohemian hives such as San Francisco were too trendy and expensive started to settle in Bisbee. Thus, a thriving community of artists was born.
Bisbee is a funky artist colony with quirks galore. Bisbee is home to an erroneous Continental Divide marker that was most likely erected by angsty prisoners, several lovingly restored brightly-colored homes adorned with handmade decorations, and a handful of striking murals painted by local artists. There is even a 1950’s-era street which was once part of a nearby mining town called Lowell that has been carefully preserved and frozen in time by Bisbee residents.
Numerous steep and winding staircases which are remnants of Bisbee’s mining roots are the scene of an annual run known as the Bisbee 1000. Participants run over 4.5 miles and climb nearly 1,000 steps. Bisbee 1000 participants are serenaded by live music as they huff and puff up former industrial staircases that are a few degrees shy of vertical. Bisbee 1000 revelers often wear costumes and slow down to a leisurely walk so that they can enjoy the scenery.
One of Bisbee’s most beloved attractions is a collection of vintage trailers atop Mule Mountain known as The Shady Dell. If you’re a fan of neon lights, pink flamingos, and silver Airstreams—a visit to The Shady Dell is an absolute must. Visitors can enjoy vintage music, sip on tiki cocktails from a bygone era, and read about cutting edge 1950’s fashion in a perfectly preserved magazine. Visitors can spend the night at The Shady Dell. Just make sure that you book your reservation ahead of time because the retro trailers of The Shady Dell book up fast.
If you’re a wanderer at heart who loves all things quirky, artisanal, and retro—Bisbee, Arizona is calling your name.