Oatman, Arizona is a town in the Black Mountains of Mohave County, Arizona. The compound began as a small mining camp during the gold rush. In 1915, two prospectors found over $10 million in gold; in the months following this discovery, Oatman’s population swelled to more than 3,500 people (up from just a couple dozen). In recent years, the town has experienced a tourism renaissance; laying close to Route 66, road tripping visitors stop in the tiny town to see the old buildings, gorgeous mountains, and the famous wild burros.
The wild burros of Oatman are descended from pack animals turned loose by early prospectors. Each morning, they wander into town looking for food. These burros roam freely through the streets of Oatman, feeding on treats provided by tourists. The burros are gentle, but wild—signs posted throughout the town advise visitors to exercise caution. However, tourists are welcome to approach, pet, and feed the burros without fear of disciplinary action. Currently, the animals are protected by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Oatman offers more than the ability to pet wild burros. A standard weekend in this town can include anything from classic car rallies to staged “Wild West” shootouts. The town is fiercely proud of its Route 66 heritage, selling souvenirs for tourists passing through on their way west. The town has a high desert climate and is significantly cooler in both summer and winter than the surrounding area, making it an excellent place to stop and spend a few days.