If you’re up for a little bit of hike in Bisbee, AZ, the jaunt up Youngblood and Chihuahua Hill is an excellent way to get the heart pumping and to see life in this former mining town in a different way.
Like we mentioned in our handy itinerary, you can take OK Street up to the base of Youngblood Hill and take time to check out all the local homes (trust me, you’ll want to – they have a lot of character). If you start your journey earlier in the morning (maybe around 7 a.m.), you’ll benefit from pleasant temperatures and having the town (and trail)practically all to yourself before the sleepy town becomes a bustling tourist stop.
Blue Jesus (I’ve called him this because he is both literally painted blue and because of his sorrowful expression) is the marker of your trail up Youngblood, but also a good wake-up call for groggy hikers because from a distance you can’t tell if it’s a statue or a person waiting at the trail.
A couple important notes before you ascend:
Beyond Blue Jesus is private property, so be polite and don’t go exploring a local’s front yard.
The path up to the hills is steep, narrow and slippery. If you’re not a strong hiker or don’t have appropriate shoes, it’s best to come back another time. There is also a bit of incline when getting to the top of both hills, so stay hydrated and listen to your body to stop when needed.
If you do make it up Chihuahua Hill, you are rewarded with a great view of the town below and are privy to a shrine that’s maintained by its residents. You can see some of our photos from the site below, but it’s really worth a visit in person. There’s a sense of peace, joy and love you get when you look at these colorful tributes.
Pay your respects and please move around with care.
Bisbee is a former mining town (current artist colony) south of Tucson near the AZ/Mexico border. It is the perfect place to experience historic, small town America.
Starting Point: Phoenix, AZ
Day One: Travel to Bisbee
The drive from Phoenix to Bisbee is about 3.5-4 hours depending on traffic.
Take your time driving down to scenic, little Bisbee.
If you leave in the morning or early afternoon; Tucson is a great place to stop by on the way.
Day Two: Exploring Bisbee
If you are up for a morning stroll, walk up OK Street which will lead to the base of Youngblood Hill and will take you by some adorable Bisbee homes.
For strong hikers, there is also a trail at the end of the street that climbs up Chihuahua and Youngblood Hill. This path is steep, narrow and slippery, however, so hike at your own discretion. Be safe.
Head back to downtown Bisbee for a tour of the Copper Queen Mine (http://www.queenminetour.com/), where you will get to ride a little train into the heart of the mountain and learn about old copper mines from former miners. There are several tours throughout the day.
Spend the day strolling through Bisbee, checking out galleries, visiting historic hotels, and enjoying this small, colorful town.
After dinner, if it suits your fancy, wander the streets at night and learn about the many ghosts of this small town with Old Bisbee Ghost Tours (http://www.oldbisbeeghosttour.com/). These take place at 7 p.m. each day of the week.
Day Two: Kartchner Caverns and Getting Home
Catch breakfast in Old Bisbee or Sierra Vista.
Stop by Kartchner Caverns (https://azstateparks.com/kartchner/) to see one of the United States’ most colorful, living caves. You will not be disappointed in this special, natural attraction. It is about an hour from Bisbee to Kartchner.
Stop for lunch in Benson or Tucson, and then head back to Phoenix. It is about 2.5 hours from Kartchner to Phoenix depending on traffic.
Ending Point: Phoenix, AZ
Reserve a place to stay.
Reserve a tour with the Old Bisbee Ghost Tours and Kartchner Caverns.
Learn about some of the historic landmarks in the town to visit.
Know the weather! Stay safe.
Solid Gas/Food Stops Along the Way:
Note: There are numerous small towns that also dot the way to Bisbee, but if you want guaranteed gas stations, fuel up in Tucson or Benson.
Mostly free parking in Bisbee (there’s like one paid lot in the entire city), but be prepared for the lots (which are small) to basically be full after 10 a.m., at least on weekends.
There’s plenty of street parking available, it just depends on how far you’re willing to haul your butt up and down a hill.
Before you park, check if it’s residential. Don’t be a jerk and park in someone’s spot.
Places to Stay:
Copper Queen Hotel (http://www.copperqueen.com/): This is a historic hotel in the middle of town. Perfectly central to all Bisbee’s attractions, and a great place for ghostly activity (for anyone interested).
Hotel Lamore/Bisbee Inn (http://bisbeeinn.com/): A smaller alternative to the Copper Queen, this place is just as historic and ghostly. But it has traditional shared bathrooms, it will really bring you back.
Plenty of alternatives throughout the town, and some good AirBnbs as well.
Part of the fun of traveling is doing something unplanned.
I was driving back down from Northern Arizona where I had just gone snowboarding (aka, falling on my behind allllll the way down a small hill) for the first time, and I saw the sign for Arcosanti.
From what I knew about Arcosanti, which was admittedly very little, it was small artistic community. Already late in the afternoon, I wasn’t sure if they’d be open. WERE they even open to the public? If so, would they be open now – did art even HAVE hours?
I shrugged and took the exit anyway. I had time and nothing to lose.
The exit made way to a dirt road which eventually wound its way to the entrance (I took a little longer than usual to make some excited noises at a few cows on the side of the road who continued to not care about my existence).
I was greeted by a sign that gave me pause. An urban laboratory? What kind of diabolical experiments could be taking place here? Completely unsure what that meant, I continued on (bravely, stupidly or both) to meet my fate.
And I was pleasantly surprised by a light breeze, blowing through the open plateau of space that the Arcosanti visitor center sits on, the bronze and ceramic bells hanging around the property awake with noise.
The bells are everywhere across Arcosanti, created by artists-in-residence (and sold on-site and online if you want to get your paws on ‘em). No bell is quite the same – different shapes, sizes and designs – but all of them bear the mark of Paolo Soleri.
Soleri was the founder, the dreamer, the architect of Arcosanti. You learn more about Paolo and how they’ve kept his hope of a self-sustaining and eco-friendly community alive if you take the tour. Tours run about an hour starting at 10 a.m. and are donations-based, so BE NICE. Check their website or call to be sure, because they do charge for specialty tours (non-English, etc.). I also 100% recommend the tour because if you don’t join a tour, you’re not allowed to wander. Which means you’re stuck at the visitor’s center and miss all the history, learning about how the Arcosanti runs now and seriously cool architecture.
The next time you find yourself driving (up or down) the I-17 in Arizona, pop over to Arcosanti for some artistic inspiration (and then stop at Rock Springs Cafe for some pieeeeeee). Or, wherever your travels may take you, think about doing something a little out of the ordinary – it might just end of being one of your favorite parts of the trip.
It’s Easter, and we have a brunch and a dinner to go to. So, I wanted to explore a new trail today that wouldn’t take more than an hour to finish. Lookout Circumference seemed like a good choice.
I have tried to hike this trail once before, but since Lookout is very popular, there are trails crisscrossing all over the mountain, and it can be pretty hard to figure out if you are on the main trail or not, especially in less trafficked spots.
Luckily, today I didn’t have too much of a problem, although I chose to take some of the smaller trails to avoid crowds here and there, and to make my hike a little longer. I really enjoyed some of these narrow trails; there’s just something extra wild and exciting about them, even in an urban setting.
I also found a neat little rock carving. I’m not convinced that this is a real petroglyph, but it’s nice to imagine.
i think that too often when it comes to travel, we think of of anywhere but our own backyards. welcome to my backyard discoveries series, where i celebrate places closer to home (and those we may take for granted).
this past friday, i spent my entire day at windmill winery (for work, so no actual wine for me) and it was beautiful – a conference in in a reconstructed barn (circa 1910, oh my goodness) if you can believe it. as per usual, i greedily snapped a bunch of pictures and left later that evening, satisfied.
i pulled back onto the road, trying to navigate (poorly) in the light of the almost full moon. naturally, i took a wrong turn and ended up on florence’s main street.
and there it was:
in between semi-panicking about being lost in the dark, stopping to take pictures of this hardware store (of all things, i can barely operate a hammer) resulted in my favorite photos from the trip.
if there’s anything i learned from all the small towns my job takes me to, it’s to – cliche alert – keep an open mind and let the place surprise you.
safe travels always,
p.s. if you’d like to see more photos from my trip, check them out on my photo blog, this kat snaps.