Visiting Tombstone, Arizona? Bring your wallet!

Tombstone Epitaph newspaper museum
The Tombstone Epitaph newspaper museum is a free attraction.

(includes photo gallery – scroll to bottom of page)

I came to appreciate the hustle of Tombstone. After all, it’s said to be the city that would not die.

I knew only two things about Tombstone, Arizona, before our recent visit: It was the setting for the famed Old West gunfight known as the “Shootout at the O.K. Corral” and a famous newspaper, the Tombstone Epitaph, was published there.

OK, I knew a little about Wyatt Earp and his brothers, and Doc Holliday, too.

We were among hundreds of winter visitors seeking sunshine in the Arizona desert, and all-in-all, I’m glad we went to Tombstone and would like to go back.

What I didn’t expect was for it to be so expensive.

Our tour of the town began at the old Cochise County Courthouse, built in 1882. It’s a great place to start and full of interesting artifacts and information. Don’t miss it ($7 each plus we paid $8 to park nearby).

Next, we wandered down a block to the Gunfighter Hall of Fame. It’s also full of interesting artifacts and information. Curator Richard Ignarski told us that the items on the display were collected by him and his two partners. He even let my husband hold the reproduction of a Colt Buntline Special that was used by Kurt Russell in the 1993 film, Tombstone. The collection is impressive. Background music included snippets of theme songs from many of the Western TV shows we watched as kids. Especially if you like guns and Western movie history, don’t miss it ($8 each). I’m sorry that I can’t find a website for this attraction.

We were $38 into our little excursion, and hadn’t even had lunch. There were many more opportunities for us to part with our cash. We decided on ice cream cones ($4 each, but they were waffle cones stuffed full). We passed on the stagecoach (didn’t get the cost) and trolley tours ($8 for seniors), Ghost and Murder Tour ($20 each), and the reenactment of the famous shoot-out ($10 each).

Nor did we visit the Rose Tree Museum (didn’t get the price), Bird Cage Theatre ($11 for seniors), Boot Hill ($3 each), or the walking tour, or… well, I’m sure you get the idea. By my rough estimation, we would have needed at least two full days and several hundred dollars to have taken in all of the tourist offerings in Tombstone.

We did do some shopping. For my husband, no trip anywhere is complete without a T-shirt, and we found some great ones at Red Dirt T-shirts. His says: “My Indian Name is ‘Runs With Beer.'” There were so many funny sayings it was hard to choose.

Unfortunately, I can’t recall the name of the shop where I found my souvenir. But the shopkeeper very kindly pointed out a photo on the wall of a picture of Rosa’s Cantina in El Paso. That’s because I bought a Marty Robbins CD of an album I remembered my parents playing when I was a kid. “Out in the West Texas town of El Paso…” is a great song to play while you’re driving through the desert and I’m going to be sure to have the CD in the car the next time we head to Tombstone.

I should mention that my very favorite attraction in Tombstone also happened to be free. The Tombstone Epitaph is a famous Old West newspaper and much that we know about the area’s history is due to the efforts of its founder and editor, John Clum. A “national edition” of the newspaper is still published, helping share the area’s rich heritage. And being an old newspaper person myself, I enjoyed seeing the display of antique printing equipment and purchased some of the replica editions.

Can you visit Tombstone without spending money? Of course. It doesn’t cost a thing to walk up and down the streets (provided you’ve found a place to park for free) or mosey through the colorful shops. We found live entertainment and plenty of signs commemorating historic events along the broad wooden boardwalks.

But I came to appreciate the hustle of Tombstone. After all, it’s said to be the city that would not die. So we will return (with more money) and hope to take in the attractions we missed the next time.

Tombstone Chamber of Commerce and Tombstone Web have more information.

Tombstone, Arizona – February 2018