Haunted Road Trip
When you get out and explore all that Arizona has to offer, there is one thing that tends to stand out. Besides the beauty of the striking desert sunsets, luscious golf courses and one of the 7 Wonders of the World, Arizona is also a very haunted state. Consider that there are more than 275 abandoned settlements throughout the state. That alone could keep you busy for years if you tried to explore and understand each one.
Today, there are many ghost towns with attractions to keep your interest piqued. You can step back in time to Arizona’s Wild West heritage and get a little spooked doing so. In order to narrow down your exploration, this most haunted Arizona road trip is comprised of 7 places designated as ghost towns spread throughout southeastern Arizona. Enjoy if you dare.
Pro tip: pack an overnight bag. These towns are fun to explore, so take your time and spend the night to get the full experience of each haunted place.
Founded in 1881 and named after the legendary Chiricahua Apache war chief, Cochise is your first stop on the list. It was created alongside the Southern Pacific Railroad as it was primarily a stop for coal and water needed for the trains. Cochise peaked at 3,000 residents, however today only about 50 reside in this very small town.
What makes Cochise famous is the Cochise Hotel. This is where Doc Holliday’s sidekick, Big Nose Kate, worked after his death. Head to the southern corner of Cochise Stronghold Road and Rath Avenue for a view of the hotel. Make visits to the Cochise County Store and the little Cochise Church on Bowie Avenue. You can wander through this tiny town and marvel at the dilapidated structures with an eerie feeling of times past.
Head 16 miles southwest of Cochise to enter into Pearce. This is an old mining ghost town that is now entwined with neighboring Sunsites. Pearce was founded in 1894 after gold was spotted and the nearby Commonwealth Mine was developed. The town was once thriving but the decline began in the 1930s and almost dwindled completely once the mine closed for good a decade later.
Although small, Pearce is a great place to explore with your feet and camera. Check out the Pearce General Store that dates back to 1896 and now doubles as a museum and tourist stop. Additionally, be sure to make stops at Pearce jail and the Prickly Pear Emporium. There will be plenty of abandoned buildings to photograph and get spooked by.
As you travel 9 miles south of Pearce you will run into a real ghost town experience. It is situated at the foot of the Dragoon Mountains. Courtland might be on the younger side as it was built in 1909, but it can give you goosebumps nonetheless. At one time it was a lively and booming town thanks to copper. The fun didn’t last long though. Just a decade later, the mines began to dry up of copper and the people began to head out. The post office finally closed in 1942 and that was all she wrote.
When you arrive today, you are heading into a completely abandoned Courtland. You will notice just vague remnants of the town’s old boundaries, but one thing has survived. The town jail is still standing, managing to survive the ravages of time.
As you head towards your next destination, you will travel down Ghost Town Trail to Gleeson. It is just a mere 5 miles from Courtland and was a former mining camp that settled at the base of the Dragoon Mountains. Its original name was “Turquoise” after the precious gem that was found in the area, but that was for a brief period of time. The town was abandoned early on as settlers headed for gold mining nearby. By 1900, miner John Gleeson brought the little town back to life. He opened Copper Belle Mine. This lasted for a good 30 years.
Today there might still be a few people living among the ruins of a ghost town, but it is rather bare. You want to be sure to take in the sights of Gleeson jail, a hospital, a saloon, and other abandoned structures.
Perhaps the most infamous and well-known haunted town on the list, you can’t pass up a chance to see Tombstone firsthand. It is known as one of the last boomtowns in the American Frontier. Tombstone lies 16 miles west of Gleeson. It was founded in 1879 because of nearby silver mining. It is most widely known for the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and it continues to draw revenue for tourism. The good times of Tombstone didn’t last as the water table began to flood the mines.
Tombstone might not necessarily be designated as a ghost town because it continues to have a steady population, but it has been referred to as the “town too tough to die.” It’s a good thing too because of its popularity and history, the town has been preserved so you can experience a true town in the wild west.
Tombstone is a town you can spend a lot of time in. You can step inside the Cochise County Courthouse, Boot Hill Cemetery, saloon, and other tourist attractions found along Allen Street. This is the perfect place to spend the night during your road trip.
Heading southwest, Charleston is just 9 miles from Tombstone. It was also founded in 1879 and its economy boomed thanks to silver ore mining. Charleston had a wild and lawless reputation, although that was mostly due to rumors perpetuated by newspapers on the east coast. Even with such a reputation and outlaws milling around, there never once was a successful robber of silver or money by the hands of these outlaws.
To see the remnants of Charleston, you will need to put on your hiking shoes. You can come across some adobe and stone foundation ruins. Nearby Millville has evidence of the old mills. This journey can take you trekking along the San Pedro River for fun exploration.
Your last stop on this journey is to the town of Fairbank. This town was settled in 1881 and was the nearest railroad stop to Tombstone. Fairbank easily became an important commerce depot and stagecoach stop for travelers. As you can imagine, Fairbank only lasted as long as Tombstone did. It eventually became just another abandoned town in the west.
When you arrive, you will notice that a few buildings are still standing tall. Some have even been restored. Check out the old schoolhouse, remnants of Montezuma Hotel, and other houses and commercial buildings. Then that is it. That is your tour of one of Arizona’s most haunted road trips.