The drive from Tucson to Bisbee, AZ was uneventful at least until we arrived at our park, the Queen Mine RV Park. We had read there was a steep hill to drive up to the park but what we found when we arrived was a hole fenced off and marked by cones in the middle of the parking lot at the Queen Mine which made for a very, very sharp turn to get up that hill. To add to the fun the parking lot was full of tourists coming and going for the mine tour.. We decided to unhook our car in the likelihood of having to back up in order to position ourselves to go up the hill but with some luck and serendipity I was able to make the turn and we settled into our site (number 22) which, by the way, had a great view overlooking the town of old Bisbee.
Bisbee is a very artsy place and we were delighted that the town was just a short walk from our park. The town claims it has an European feel but I have to be honest I never felt that vibe… As I walked around I could hear the lyrics “Let’s do the time warp again…” and Sharon heard “Let me take you to… Funky Town…” and that about describes Bisbee. A funky yet artsy place with a definite hippy vibe! We meandered through its narrow and winding roads immediately noticing many painted murals. We also paused to listen to live music from street musicians as well as bands from various establishments. We knew we were going to like exploring this town!
This former mining town is home to the once very productive Copper Queen Mine and once sported a population of 20,000. The mine closed in the early 1970s and it didn’t take long for the dreaded hippies to move in when houses were priced at less than a grand. Next up were the artists, then the baby boomer retirees and snowbirds.Why Bisbee? After visiting, I thought, Hell, why not?!!!
That first day in the town we decided we were going to challenge ourselves with the 1000 Stair Climb. The town of Bisbee has no shortage of staircases and thus the Bisbee 1000, an official 5K run (held in October), was born. The walk tracing the race route is an outstanding way to see the all that Bisbee has to offer… So we picked up a map at the Visitor Center and off we went.
Each of the staircases along the designated walk are marked by some fabulous painted artwork indicating which staircase you are at and usually the number of steps you are about to encounter. This walk is guaranteed to make calves hurt and thighs burn but the sights such as Arizona’s oldest continuously running bar, the St. Elmo, and Arizona’s oldest continuously run hotel, the Copper Queen make for interesting stops along the way. But wait there is more…
The random street art and open artistic expression found in Bisbee is everywhere. Street art in Bisbee takes on many forms… from cars to buildings, to walls and and sidewalks. It is unique, whimsical, hippie-fied and all these weird,,crazy forms of self expression bring on lots of smiles. From the doors and the gates that have been artistically personalized to the giant rose on the hill, we think if you don’t smile here you won’t smile anywhere… We were enchanted by it for sure.
The best part of finishing this calf burning walk was its ending point happened to be near one of the two breweries in town found in the area known as known as Brewery Gulch. We visited Old Bisbee Brewing Company which was a perfect ending to our long but extremely enjoyable urban hike…