As pistol-packing cowboys take to Main Street (really about the only street) in Oatman, Ariz., for a mock gunfight, they ask spectators to step off the wooden sidewalks to help block traffic.
In years past, that request would have been absurd, because Route 66, with its steady stream of cars and trucks, ran through town. But with the highway traffic long gone and the surrounding gold mines closed, it's now safe to wander at will.
In a town with a limited number of lodging choices, we landed at the Quinntopia B&B. (The second "B" stands for barbecue.) Owner Jim Quinn provides dinner, entertainment by a local musician and all the drinks guests care to imbibe.
Another option for dining? The Oatman Hotel (once known as the Durlin), which no longer rents rooms but offers tasty soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches and more. The walls and ceilings are plastered with dollar bills bearing visitors' names, a throwback to mining days when prospectors would establish credit at the saloon by writing their names on bills and tacking them to the wall.
The influence of the Old West seems to be everywhere in the little town. Check out the Glory Hole antiques shop and museum on Main Street; cross the street and you may encounter an entrepreneur who sells burro food. The burros, descendants of prospectors' helpers, are both friendly and photogenic.
The aforementioned gunfights are staged several times a day (after which the cowboy hat is passed for charity). And don't miss the mountainous stretch of old Route 66 near Gold Road Mine just north of town. It features stunning scenery, but the hairpin turns aren't for the faint of heart.
Miles one way from downtown L.A.
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