The (not so) Wild Burros of Oatman Az. and Route 66… On the Road

Oatman Arizona is noted for its history, location on Route 66 and its wild burros. As this photo suggests, its burros are not very wild, but they are characters.

Oatman, Arizona would be a ghost town if it weren’t for its wild burros and location on Route 66. Peggy and I stopped there on one of our explorations of the historic highway and were immediately greeted by the burros.

A ten million dollar gold strike in 1915 gave Oatman its initial growth spurt. Travel on Route 66 during the highway’s days as a major east-west road maintained its existence. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent a honeymoon night there and Clark returned occasionally to gamble with the miners.

A view of main street Oatman in its desert setting with its historic buildings.

The town received its name from Olive Oatman who had been kidnapped by the Yavapai Indians, rescued and tattooed by the Mohave Indians and eventually released near the town.

Olive Oatman with her tattoos that were applied by the Mohave Indians.

The wild burros, or donkeys, are a legacy of early prospectors who used the burros to carry their gear as they wandered in search of gold and other valuable minerals. Today they can be found throughout the desert Southwest. The burros of Oatman hit tourists up for carrots, provide lessons on donkey mating practices, and leave their calling cards on the streets of the town.

This cute little fellow had a no carrot sticker on his nose. Apparently young burros can choke on the carrots.

By 1960 the gold was gone and the highway was rerouted. Oatman was on its way to ghost town status. Fortunately the energy of the town’s citizens, the rebirth of Route 66 as a national historic treasure, and the desire of the burros for carrots have given Oatman reasons to prosper. It’s definitely worth a visit.

Oatman is located in northwestern Arizona off of Highway 95 on Historic Route 66 between Bullhead City and Needles.

The Peripatetic Bone joins an historic Route 66 sign on the edge of Oatman.

Historic Route 66 a few miles south of Oatman reminds travelers of another time and invites them onward.

A good reason to leave your windows up when visiting Oatman Arizona.

This photo deserves a caption. Mine would be, "Watch what you're sniffing, Mr.!"

Sheer pleasure?

8 thoughts on “The (not so) Wild Burros of Oatman Az. and Route 66… On the Road

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  3. This post is perfect! It looks very similar to our own experience in Oatman hahaha. I couldn’t believe those burros just dove right into the cars for treats too! I also always laughed when I heard them squeal hahaha. Such a crazy little town

    • The town is interesting even without the burros, but they do add a lot of humor! I was also amused with the No Carrots sign on the foreheads of the youngsters. Glad you enjoyed the post, MB. –Curt

      • We saw one of those little baby burros! Such a tiny, cute little guy. Interestingly, I don’t know if they use carrots anymore, or at least we couldn’t find any. We bought feed that was little cubes of grain instead.

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