Monday, October 6, 2014

Route 66: Oatman, AZ

Oatman Highway route 66
Oatman Highway is a stretch of the original Route 66
Oatman, AZ is one of those towns that motorcycle riders always seem to talk about, particularly if you live in the southwestern United States.

There really isn't anything special about Oatman that makes it conducive for the motorcycle lifestyle, except that the original Route 66 runs through it. While the road is pretty tight and twisty, and offers some great views of the Black Mountains, it's a very rough ride, narrow, full of burro crossings and slow moving vehicles.

But I've had countless riders ask me if I've been to Oatman, and yes actually, but it was years ago and I was driving my pickup truck. I hadn't been there on my bike, and nor have I come from the east along the twistiest stretch of the 66.

I can't imagine 50 years ago when big Buick Skylarks and Cadillac Fleetwoods made these 15 MPH hairpin turns with 10% grades. Even riding on motorcycles, there doesn't seem to be much room. The bumps and potholes on these roads, along with sand and gravel, magnified the luggage weight on our bikes as Sash and I rode carefully along.

Wild burros populate this area and can be frequently seen traversing down the rocky mountain sides. I spotted several, and wanted to photograph them, but they were far enough away that they'd only blend in with the rocks and scrub. I opted to wait until we got into town, where I knew we'd find plenty more.

Within the town, Oatman is just like any other old west-themed tourist trap. It's filled with souvenir shops, mine tours, and gunfight shows.

It's really the wild burros that make it unique, however. There's probably 20 of them there when Sash and I rolled in. A few of the vendors sell burro food which keeps them coming back. As such, the main drag is cluttered with burro poop. For the most part, they're friendly, passive, and let you pet them. Even the baby burros are getting in on the action.

Just as we got into town, a group of Germans on rented Harleys pulled up. There was probably 20 of them, all on brand new, shiny bikes. The tour guide spoke in German and explained the significance of Oatman. The group was focused on tracing the original Route 66.

We didn't spend the night in Oatman. We moved on and reached our hotel in Las Vegas.

Photos from Oatman...

Route 66 just before we get
into the Black Mountains
Cool Springs Cabins offers a
neat little tourist stop.
Inside Cool Springs Cabins is
a small museum of Oatman
Tight turns and steep grades
along Oatman Highway
The end of a gun fight show
in the town of Oatman
A burro picks up scraps from
the boardwalk of Oatman
Sash says hello to a baby
Burro Breath Burger at Olive
Oatman Restaurant.
Sash getting up close and
personal with an ass


  1. Wow, that first pic has quite the tar snakes in it. I bet they are slippery in the heat of the day. Was most of the route like that or just certain sections?

    1. Much of the road was like that. The hairpin turns were really bumpy, that I had trouble photographing them while riding, so you don't see any photos of that.

  2. Steve,

    I think it's great you guys are experiencing Americana at it best. I'd like to ride the entire length of Route 66 someday and take in all the little oddities along the way.

    Who would have thought you'd find so many asses in the middle of nowhere. :-) Enjoy your travels. I'm enjoying following your adventures.



About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)