Things to do in Tombstone

By local contributor
Scott McGinty

Also called “The Town Too Tough to Die,” Tombstone (pictured above; photo by Kent Kanouse) is best known for the gunfight at the O.K. Corral between legendary lawman Wyatt Earp and the Clanton brothers. Today, it’s one of southern Arizona’s most popular tourist destinations. Here’s a quick look at what awaits you in Tombstone.

O.K. CorralHome to the most famous gunfight in Old West history, the O.K Corral is located right in the heart of Tombstone. The corral is still set up exactly how it was back in the 1800s, and the town puts on outstanding reenactments of the gunfight daily for visitors. Come watch actor portrayals of Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp shooting it out with the Clantons and McLaurys.

Tombstone CourthouseWhen you step into the Tombstone Courthouse, you can practically feel the history, from the anger of the outlaws who stood trial for their crimes to the satisfaction of the famous lawmen who brought them to justice. The courthouse holds many town artifacts within its walls, and leads visitors through the town’s history and events.

Allen Street: Allen Street was the center of activity in Tombstone during its heyday. This is where people gathered after long days in the mines and where outlaws rode into town when they were on the run. The storefronts are still mostly original and each saloon and shop has its own history that’s worth exploring.

Boot Hill Graveyard: Boot Hill Graveyard is the final resting place of the majority of famous outlaws that were killed in gunfights. Members of the Cowboys gang killed in the O.K. Corral gunfight are buried there, right next to some of Tombstone’s most outstanding citizens. Many of the grave markers contain colorful epitaphs, like this one: “Here lies George Johnson hanged by mistake 1882. He was right we was wrong. But we strung him up and now he’s gone.”

The Bird Cage Theatre: In 1882, the New York Times called the Bird Cage Theatre “. . . the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast.” The former brothel and gaming house is rumored to be haunted by the spirits of several ladies of the evening and their clients.  If you’re not afraid, reserve a spot on the theatre’s nightly ghost tour (guests 18 years and older only).

Rose Tree Inn Museum: The museum, which opened to the public in 1964, is home to the world’s largest rose tree, a Lady Banksia that is more than 125 years old and covers 8,600 square feet. The original root cuttings of the tree were shipped from Tombstone resident Mary Gee’s family in Scotland to Arizona in 1885. Mary Gee and her friend Amelia Adamson planted the tree near the back patio of the Vizinia Mine boarding house, which Amelia ran. The tree flourished and continues to bloom for six weeks every spring in March and April.