While in Quartzsite, we had several people mention a small old mining town with wild burros roaming the streets. We had to check it out, especially since it was directly on our path from Lake Havasu to Las Vegas.
The town of Oatman, Arizona, started as a tent camp, but turned into a town after a major gold strike in the area. Since it was on the original Route 66, it stayed alive as a tourist stop after the mines were shut down in 1924. The wild burros were turned loose by prospectors in the early days, and have sustained their numbers due to the abundance of carrots in the area. We took the recommended advice and purchased several large bags of carrots before we left Havasu (due to the street corner carrot scalpers in Oatman). We looked for burros all the way from our campground, but the only ones we saw were on the streets of Oatman, some even poking their heads inside slow moving cars for the chance of another snack.
We were informed of the “Grumpy Shop Keepers” before we went, they are picky about what you feed these particular burros. We thought the only thing we could get grouched at over would be feeding the babies (which are clearly marked with DO NOT FEED stickers on their foreheads). We found out there are other unspoken rules, one of them being don’t feed them apple cores since it can cause belly aches. I don’t know how they know this, unless Dr. Dolittle lives in Oatman, but we apologized and went on about our business of getting rid of 10 pounds of carrots.
We walked through several of the shops, and the girls even enjoyed ice cream with some nosey onlookers waiting to eat something else that would probably cause belly aches. Grumps aside, it was a great experience for the whole family, I even found some old equipment to look at while they were playing with the critters.
Don’t let tales of grumpy shop keepers steer you away from Oatman. They really do have the best interests of the burros in the forefront since that is the only reason anyone would ever go to Oatman. It is neat to think about what the town would have been like when the mine was operating, and burros were used for something other than carrot disposals (I doubt anyone would have cared if you fed them an apple core…. Just Sayin)
Oatman offers a couple restaurants, one of which had chocolate dipped cheesecake on a stick, that turned out to be my bag of carrots… They have wild west gunfight shows during the day, and some other activities throughout the year. If you are in the area, it would be worth a quick stop, I will be back next time we are close by. I am in Las Vegas now, and can still smell the cheesecake and burros on the wind…