The town of Bisbee is situated about 100 miles from Tucson and is close to Tombstone so both locations can be combined on a day trip. Bisbee is situated at 5300 feet so will be pleasantly cooler than Tucson or Phoenix. Bisbee was established in 1880 and was surrounded by mines exploiting the rich deposits of silver, gold and copper in this area. The small town that you see today used to be larger and even had a suburban train service that ran to some of the outlying areas. The drive to Bisbee winds through the Dragoon mountains until you come to the mule pass tunnel. Once through the tunnel continue to follow the highway until you see the exit sign posted with the tourist information sign. There are good views of Bisbee to the left of the highway. The downtown area is compact and it should be easy to find parking. Once there you will find a pleasant town that still feels little changed since the 1950’s. Things are of course much quieter than they used to be as there are no longer any major mines in the area. The street names still echo the past with the colorfully named Brewery Gulch now a shadow of its former self. Despite the closure of the mines the town has survived and is popular with artists and people who want to escape the big city. There are still copper deposits in the area which may be viable to exploit so mining may yet return to the area.
This open pit was the richest copper mine in Bisbee and ceased operations in 1974 (although a small copper leaching operation remains). There is a parking area where you can get a clear view of this enormous pit
Copper Queen Mine
Copper was also mined underground in Bisbee and the Copper Queen mine offers daily tours where you are taken on a small train into the heart of a former copper mine. The tours are informative and are given by former hard rock miners who explain the workings of the mine and some of the heavy equipment that was used. You will need to wear a hard hat, miners lamp and a waterproof high visibility jacket but this all adds to the experience. So, a great way to get a feel of what working in a mine is like but best avoided if you are claustrophobic.
Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum
Does what is says on the cover and worth an hour or so of anyone’s time. A good example of a small town museum and very informative about the history of mining in the area.
Copper Queen Hotel
I business since 1902 this is worth a look if you want to stay overnight in a historic location.
Ghost Hunt tours are also held every Thursday evening.
Restaurants and Bars and Tours
Bisbee has more options than you might imagine. Have a look at this website for some ideas.
This area of southern Arizona is riddled with ghost towns. They are mostly difficult to reach and definitely not recommended without 4 wheel drive. The easy way is to take a guided Jeep tour and let someone else do the work. Have a look at Lavender Jeep Tours.