American Roadtrip | Tombstone, Arizona and Joshua Tree National Park, California

After all our fun at Disney we had three days to fill in before our next major location. So we decided to take a bit of a detour and high tail it down to Arizona to visit “The Town Too Tough to Die”….

From Anaheim (A) we travelled about 840 kms (520 miles) through to Benson (B) in Arizona and spent the night at Days Inn by Wyndham Benson (see our Wyndham Properties review here). The next morning we drove 30 minutes to visit Tombstone (C) and the heart of the Wild West.

Driving into Tombstone we saw a statue of Wyatt Earp and buildings that remain from that era. We had read about seeing a re-enactment of the ‘Gunfight at the O.K. Corral’ so we pulled up at The Saloon Theatre and purchased some tickets for the next show, this cost us at total of $25 USD/$36.74 NZD. Wyatt Earp_Tombstone_Arizona_AmericaWe had some time to then wander the town and learn more of it’s history. There is plenty of silver and gold mining history and we heard stories at the Bird Cage Theatre from its heyday, even seeing some bullets still stuck in the original bar and walls.The Bird Cage Theatre_Tombstone_Arizona_AmericaWhile wandering the pedestrian only streets we noticed that there were a few establishments offering gunfight shows, including the official O.K. Corral. We obviously hadn’t done our research properly as we thought there was only one.O.K. Corral_Tombstone_Arizona_AmericaWe returned to The Saloon Theatre for our show time and found some seats at the front. We were offered ear muffs as they use real guns and we sat back with intrigue and wonder as to what we might see. It was an interesting show and while they didn’t perform the O.K. Corral showdown, we learnt a few things about the surrounding events, how “Billy The Kid” got his start and that the famous gunfight only started at the O.K. Corral, then spilt out onto the street and into an empty lot. The three actors recreating the scenes gave good performances and it was some light entertainment to finish our short visit. The Saloon Theatre_Tombstone_Arizona_AmericaThere are also mine tours and the courthouse to look through, but other than that, there’s not really too much to see at Tombstone. The town may be “too tough to die” but it’s really not hanging on by too much.Tombstone_Arizona_America_1I was a little disappointed in the overall experience of our detour, we thought it might have been better if the town was united and did just one major re-enactment in the main street. The four or five options we saw for viewing gun fights made it feel like similar “tourist attraction” towns and something we were hoping to avoid. Nonetheless it was interesting to walk the same dusty streets as Wyatt Earp, his brothers and “Doc” Holliday and it was another history lesson with a bit of added spice from the real props.

After our few hours exploring Tombstone we were back in the car and driving back to the state of California, here we spent the night at the Days Inn by Wyndham Blythe (D).

The next morning we drove about an hour to the Joshua Tree National Park (E), entry to this national park is $30 USD/$44.21 NZD and as like many others, the pass does last for seven consecutive days. We entered through the southern Cottonwood entrance and straight into the Colorado Desert, one of the three ecosystems within this park. Joshua Tree National Park_California_AmericaAs is often the case, it was hard not to stop at every turn but after a while we moved into the Mojave Desert ecosystem and we began to see the changes to landscapes and plants, including seeing the famous Joshua Trees. Well, it’s not actually a tree but a plant, a species of yucca, and received it’s name from a group of Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The tree’s unique shape reminded them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer. These “trees” come in many different shapes and sizes and we enjoyed seeing the variety.Joshua Tree National Park_California_America_1After a stop for lunch we continued on, wanting to visit the Hidden Valley loop trail, but unfortunately a ranger was closing it off just as we arrived. So we continued on to Quail Springs for some rock climbing and more landscape admiring. The boulders were incredible and many were doing the same as us with some even abseiling down the huge rock faces.Joshua Tree National Park_California_America_2We exited out through the west station of the park, through the town of Joshua Tree and continued on another 135 kms (84 miles) to spend the night at Travelodge by Wyndham Barstow (F).Roadtrip Map 10We were now only a couple of hours drive from our next hot spot…. one of our family was getting VERY excited…. stay tuned for the next blog instalment and read all about it.

Average Daily Spend for 3 nights – $253.21 NZD ($34.29 under budget per day)

– Paula


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