picacho state park showing a mountain in the back, with cactus and purple wildflowers in the front

Phoenix To Tombstone: Getting There & 11 Best Road Trip Stops

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Are you planning a trip from Phoenix to Tombstone? Youโ€™ve come to the right place as we cover the best road trip itinerary and other options to get between these two fantastic cities.

As seasoned travelers who have taken this route multiple times, we can assure you that there’s no shortage of adventures along the way.

And as a couple who has spent much time exploring Arizona, we are excited to share our recommendations with you.

So please sit back, relax, and prepare to embark on a journey through time as we make our way to one of the most historic and iconic towns in the American West.

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Distance From Phoenix To Tombstone Az

The driving distance between Phoenix to Tombstone is 184 miles if you take the shortest and quickest route.

On the quickest route, the drive time is right around 3 hours.

๐Ÿ‘‰ We also have a Scottdale to Tombstone road trip. Some of the stops are different, so check it out for other options that would work here too.

Optional Driving Routes For Your Road Trip

We are providing two different routes for a Phoenix to Tombstone road trip.

Route 1 – I-10 East (3 Hrs)

This route is the most direct and will be the quickest.

google map of main route between phoenix and tombstone

Route 2 – US 60 E / I-10 E (3.5 Hrs)

This route is slightly longer, adding about 30 minutes to your drive time. But if you prefer some of the stops along this route, it is well worth the extra few minutes.

map of alternative route between phoenix and tombstone

๐Ÿ‘‰ Once you get to Tombstone, there are plenty of attractions to keep you busy.


Best Road Trip Stops When Heading To Tombstone

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about all the fun road trip stops you can make along the way.

We suggest an overnight in Tombstone so you can take all day and enjoy some stops on the way down from Phoenix. The following day you can explore Tombstone before heading back to Phoenix in the evening or continuing your journey.

the city of phoenix at sunset, our starting point for a phoenix to tombstone roadtrip

๐Ÿ‘‰ We provide a couple of hotel options below, but if you want to bring your furry bestie with you, we have a post dedicated to pet-friendly hotels in Tombstone!

Along Route 1 (I-10 East)

Let’s start with the quickest route.

1. Mystery Castle

Location: Phoenix, Az

Mystery Castle is a quirky and unusual tourist attraction in the foothills of South Mountain Park.

It’s a one-of-a-kind home built by Boyce Gulley in the 1930s as a gift to his daughter.

The castle is made of adobe, stone, and recycled materials such as automobile parts, telephone poles, and discarded materials that Gulley collected around the Southwest.

It has 18 rooms decorated with unique features such as stained glass windows, mosaics, and antiques.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Mystery Castle is the story behind its creation.

When his daughter was young, Gulley built elaborate sand castles for her. So when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and thought he would die, he began to create an adult version of those sand castles. One that would provide his daughter with a magical and unique place to live.

After his death, the daughter Mary Lou did move in and lived there for the rest of her life.

Today, you can take a guided tour of the castle and learn about its fascinating history and unique features.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Wondering if it is worth visiting Tombstone? Check out why we think you should head to the Old West.

2. Museum Of Casa Grande Or Casa Grande Neon Sign Park

Location: Casa Grande, Az

The Museum of Casa Grande is a fascinating destination for anyone interested in the history and culture of the Casa Grande area.

up close photo of cactus

Located in the heart of downtown Casa Grande, the museum is housed in a historic building that dates back to the early 20th century. The museum’s exhibits showcase the region’s rich history, from its ancient Hohokam roots to its recent ranching and mining industries.

With thousands of photographs and artifacts, you will journey through time as you see how the Casa Grande area has changed over the years.

The second option here is Casa Grande can be seen during the day, but you will get more out of it after dark.

Casa Grande Neon Sign Park is a public art installation and outdoor museum that features restored neon signs from businesses around the city.

There are about a dozen signs, most dating from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s. And they are turned on each evening from dusk until 11 pm.

It is a unique and quirky way to explore a bit of Casa Grande’s history.

๐Ÿ‘‰ If you are already in Tombstone, why not swing down to the mining town of Bisbee? It is another cute town worth a quick visit.

Along Route 2 (US 60 E / I-10 E)

We have a couple of options if you prefer to take this alternative route.

3. Desert Botanical Garden

Location: Phoenix, Az

This 140-acre garden is a must-see for nature lovers and is a great way to start your road trip to Tombstone along this route.

the desert botanical garden in phoenix with large saguaro cactus and a white building, this is a great stop if you are heading from phoenix to tombstone

The garden is home to a vast collection of desert plant life, including various cacti, succulents, and wildflowers. Visitors can explore the garden’s many paths and trails, which wind through a range of desert habitats and showcase the diversity of plant life in the region.

One of the highlights of the Desert Botanical Garden is the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail, which takes visitors on a journey through the iconic Sonoran Desert.

This trail is home to some of the garden’s most impressive specimens, including towering saguaro cacti and the spiky, otherworldly ocotillo plant.

Along the way, you will learn about the ecology and natural history of the Sonoran Desert and the importance of conserving this unique ecosystem.

The garden is a beautiful and serene place to spend a bit of time. Its tranquil atmosphere is the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of city life, and its many shaded benches offer plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy the absolutely gorgeous desert scenery.

4. Lost Dutchman State Park

Location: Apache Junction, Az

Lost Dutchman State Park is a breathtakingly beautiful park in the Superstition Mountains.

tall mountain with snow and saguaro cactus in the front at lost dutchman state park, a great park to stretch your legs on a phoenix to tombstone road trip

The park is known for its desert scenery, which includes towering saguaro cacti, rugged canyons, and awe-inspiring rock formations.

Hiking is the most popular activity at Lost Dutchman State Park, as there are a variety of trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging climbs.

One of the most iconic hikes in the park is the Siphon Draw Trail, which winds into the Siphon Draw Canyon. For advanced hikers, you can head to the top of the towering Flatiron formation, though keep in mind the trail is not a maintained, designated trail past a certain point.

The hike is challenging but rewarding, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

For a shorter but equally scenic hike, you can try the Treasure Loop Trail, which travels through the park’s canyons and has incredible views of the nearby Superstition Mountains.

๐Ÿ“Ž Tip: As you hike, keep an eye out for the Lost Dutchman’s gold mine, which is said to be hidden somewhere in the mountains.

a tall saguaro cactus with a white background

5. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Location: Coolidge, Az

Casa Grande Ruins National Park is home to some of North America‘s most well-preserved ancient structures.

These structures date back to the Hohokam culture, which thrived in the area around Phoenix and Tucson for more than a thousand years (if not longer).

One of the most prominent structures in the park is the Casa Grande (or Big House), a four-story building made of caliche that is the largest known structure from the Hohokam still in existence.

The Casa Grande is estimated to have been built around 1350 and served as a gathering place for the Hohokam people until 1450, when it was abandoned.

In addition to the big house, there are other ruins on the park grounds to explore.

Beyond the impressive architecture, the park also offers fantastic views of the surrounding desert. Stroll along the park’s trails and marvel at the saguaro cacti and desert wildflowers that dot the landscape.

Along Both Routes, After Merging

These next stops can be done with either route because the routes merge along one path for the second half of the drive.

6. Picacho Peak State Park

Location: Picacho, Az

Located between Tucson and Phoenix, Picacho Peak State Park is a must-visit destination for any nature lover or outdoor enthusiast.

picacho state park showing a mountain in the back, with cactus and purple wildflowers in the front, a perfect stop for a phoenix to tombstone road trip

The park is home to one of the state’s most iconic and recognizable landmarks, Picacho Peak, which rises 1,500 feet above the Sonoran Desert.

It boasts several hiking trails of varying difficulty levels, ranging from easy to challenging, all with breathtaking views of the desert.

For the adrenaline junkies out there, the Hunter Trail to the summit of Picacho Peak is a must-do.

The trail is challenging, but the panoramic views from the top are worth the effort. Be prepared for steep inclines, narrow paths, and even a cable handrail to help you navigate the rocky terrain.

But if you’re looking for a more relaxed way to enjoy the park, you can wander along the Nature Trail, which is accessible for all ages and abilities.

7. Saguaro National Park

Location: Tucson, Az

Named after the iconic saguaro cactus, which can reach heights of up to 60 feet and live for over 200 years, Saguaro National Park is divided into two districts, the East and the West.

a tall saguaro stands in front of a rocky mountain background

Each district offers a visitor center, unique experiences like scenic drives and hikes, and various plant and animal life.

Hike among the towering cacti and stunning desert landscapes on trails ranging from short, easy walks to challenging all-day hikes.

A popular trail in the East district is the hike to the summit of Tanque Verde Peak, which offers magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and the local desert terrain.

In the West district, you can explore the Signal Hill Trail, a short, easy hike that leads to ancient petroglyphs, or take on the challenging Hugh Norris Trail, which offers fantastic views of the Tucson valley.

If you prefer a more relaxed way to enjoy the park, you can instead drive the scenic loops available in either district of the park.

Along the way, you’ll see a variety of desert plants, including the majestic saguaro cactus. And if you are lucky, you might spot some of the wildlife in the park, from jackrabbits to javelina.

Don’t forget to stay for the sunset! The park offers some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see, with the sky exploding in pink, orange, and purple hues.

While this park isn’t as popular as another Arizona park, the Grand Canyon, we loved it here and would highly recommend you stop for a bit or plan another trip here.

8. Mt Lemmon Scenic Byway

Location: Tucson, Az

Looking for a scenic drive that will take your breath away?

The Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway is a 27-mile drive through the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains.

the scenic drive at mt lemmon, photo shows the road heading between two mountains in the distance

As you ascend the mountain, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding desert, with views that stretch for miles.

Along the drive, numerous pullouts and overlooks allow you to stop and take in the views, snap some photos, and even have a picnic.

One of the most popular stops is Windy Point Vista, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Keep a lookout for animals like mule deer and black bears as you ascend the mountain.

At the top of the drive, you’ll arrive at the charming mountain town of Summerhaven.

This quaint town has a variety of restaurants, shops, and attractions, making it the perfect place to stop and stretch your legs before heading back down the mountain.

9. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Location: Tucson, Az

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a unique museum and outdoor living exhibit that showcases the beauty and diversity of the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona.

a small owl is sitting on a hand during a raptor presentation at the arizona sonora desert museum, the museum is a highlight when traveling from phoenix to tombstone

It’s not your typical museum – it’s more like a zoo, botanical garden, and natural history museum all rolled into one.

Spread over 98 acres; it features more than 240 animal species and over 1,200 plant species, many of which are native to the Sonoran Desert.

The exhibits are arranged along a series of walking trails that travel through the desert landscape, with informative signs to educate you.

One of the museum’s highlights is the Desert Loop Trail, which takes you along a half-mile path to see javelinas, coyotes, and reptiles in their natural habitat.

Other exhibits include the stingray touch, experiences with raptors in flight, cactus gardens, and a cat canyon, where you can see bobcats and foxes.

If you enjoy birds, the hummingbird aviary or the birds of Sonoran Desert exhibits are perfect for you.

Overall, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a fascinating and educational experience that will delight visitors of all ages.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a science enthusiast, or just looking for a unique museum experience, this museum is a highlight of this trip.

stalactites and stalagmites inside a cave

10. Colossal Cave Mountain Park

Location: Vail, Az

Colossal Cave Mountain Park is a 2,400-acre park where the main attraction is, of course, Colossal Cave.

The cave was formed millions of years ago and features breathtaking rock formations and unique geological features.

The cave is famous for its impressive limestone formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and large underground chambers. It is also one of the largest dry caves in North America (this means it is alive but no longer growing).

You can take a guided tour of the cave, which lasts approximately 45 minutes and has you descending six stories and through several different chambers and passages.

While the cave is the main draw, there is plenty to do above ground as well. The park is home to plenty of hiking trails to explore the desert and spot wildlife.

๐Ÿ“Ž Tip: If you love horses, opt for the horseback ride through the park. It is a fun and different way to experience the trails.

11. OK Corral And Gunfight Show

Location: Tombstone, Az

You’ve arrived in Tombstone! While there is plenty to see in this small town, one thing you shouldn’t miss is a visit to the OK Corral.

OK corral sign that hangs at the site in Tombstone

The OK Corral and Gunfight Show is the most popular tourist attraction in town.

It is a recreation of the infamous gunfight that took place on October 26, 1881, between lawmen and outlaws in the Old West.

The gunfight show is performed a few times daily in an outdoor theater, with actors portraying legendary characters like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the Clanton Gang.

Before or after the show, your ticket allows you to explore the museum area on a self-guided tour. The museum houses a collection of Old West artifacts, including guns, photos, and other memorabilia. You can also explore the old barn and carriages on display.

And when you are done at the OK Corral and looking at any other attractions you want to see, make sure you swing by the famous Big Nose Kate’s Saloon. Not only is the food and drink pretty good but there is nightly entertainment.

Car Rental

If you want to take this road trip, renting a car is the perfect way to explore the Arizona desert at your own pace.

From the rugged trails of Picacho Peak State Park to the scenic drives of Mt. Lemmon, having your own vehicle gives you the freedom to see everything this area offers.

Plus, with so many spectacular stops along the way, you’ll want to have the flexibility to stay as long as you like at each destination.

When renting a car, we like Discover Cars because the company works with the most well-known car rental companies worldwide.

๐Ÿš™ Book a Car with Discover Cars

cactus at sunset near phoenix

Tours To Tombstone

If you don’t have a car or want to avoid renting one, there are a couple of Phoenix to Tombstone tours you can choose from instead.

Each of these day trips includes Tombstone plus another stop, which makes it a full day but allows you to experience other incredible places.

Tombstone & San Xavier Del Bac Mission

This day tour is a small group tour, just 13 max, and has you spending several hours in Tombstone. On the way to (or back from) Phoenix, you will see the incredible San Xavier Mission just south of Tucson. The mission was built in 1692 and is quite impressive.

โžก๏ธ Book Tombstone & San Xavier


Tombstone, Bisbee & Saguaro National Park

This small group tour is for just 12 guests. On this tour, you will spend slightly less time in Tombstone, but will also get to see Bisbee and Saguaro National Park. Bisbee is a small mining town just south of Tombstone. And Saguaro National Park is one of the best places to see the famous Saguaro cactus in the US.

โžก๏ธ Book Tombstone, Bisbee, & Saguaro

Other Options To Get To Tombstone

While we think the road trip is the way to go, here are your other options.

Flight

Unfortunately, Tombstone has no commercial airports, so flying directly from Phoenix is impossible.

You could fly from Phoenix to Tucson. Tucson is about 75 miles from Tombstone. From there, you can rent a car and take a scenic drive through the desert to reach Tombstone.

This option is viable but probably not worth it. The flight is about 1 hour, and you will have to arrive at the airport 1 hour before. So for the convenience of flying, you may save an hour, and that is if the flight isn’t delayed.

It will also be more expensive than driving.

a stagecoach sits outside the OK corral on East Allen St in Tombstone

Bus

You will have similar issues with a bus as you did with the flight. There are no direct buses that run between Phoenix and Tombstone.

Your option is to catch a bus from Phoenix to Tucson, but then you will still need to rent a car at that point to travel the remainder of the way.

While the bus option will take you about the same time as driving yourself (if you go direct), you won’t have the opportunity to stop anywhere along the route to enjoy what there is to do between these two locations.

Where To Stay In Tombstone

You have plenty of hotels to choose from in Tombstone. But these are our favorites.

Luxury ๐Ÿ’ต ๐Ÿ’ต ๐Ÿ’ต – Tombstone Monument Guest Ranch

  • Located in a beautiful, peaceful location just outside of town
  • Keep the Wild West theme going into the evening
  • Offers a variety of activities and amenities, such as archery, UTV tours, and nightly entertainment

โžก๏ธ Check Prices & Availability at Tombstone Monument Ranch


Mid-Range ๐Ÿ’ต ๐Ÿ’ต – Tombstone Bordello B&B

  • Incredible homemade breakfast
  • Unique experience as you stay in what was once a brothel in the heyday of Tombstone’s mining era
  • Despite its age, this B&B offers comfortable and modern accommodations

โžก๏ธ Check Prices & Availability at Tombstone Bordello B&B


Budget ๐Ÿ’ต – Larian Motel

  • Plenty of historic charm as this motel has been around since the 1950s
  • Perfect location as it is only a block from East Allen St, making it just steps away from city center and all the major attractions in town
  • Might have a paranormal visitor during your stay, as the Larian Motel is one of the most haunted places in Tombstone

โžก๏ธ Check Prices & Availability at Larian Motel

a horse drawn stagecoach rides thru Tombstone, tombstone is your final destination on a phoenix to tombstone road trip

FAQs: Phoenix To Tombstone

Let’s talk about some common questions.

Is There A Train From Phoenix To Tombstone

No, there is no direct train to Tombstone from Phoenix. However, other transportation options are available, such as renting a car, taking a bus, or booking a guided tour. Tombstone is located about 200 miles southeast of Phoenix, and driving is the most common mode of transportation to get there.

Is Tombstone Close To Tucson

Yes, Tombstone is relatively close to Tucson, which is about 75 miles northwest of Tombstone. The drive takes about an hour and a half, and guided tours are available from Tucson to Tombstone. Additionally, other nearby attractions in Tucson make it a great weekend getaway.

How Many Days Do You Need In Tombstone

The time needed in Tombstone largely depends on your interests and how much you want to explore the town and its attractions. Many visitors find that a day trip is enough time to see the highlights of Tombstone, while others may choose to stay for a few days to immerse themselves in the town’s history and culture fully.

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Go To Tombstone Arizona

The best times to visit Tombstone are spring and fall, from March to May, and September to November. The weather is mild during these seasons, with temperatures ranging from the 60s to the 80s F. Visiting during these times avoids the scorching heat of the summer months.

Is Tombstone Arizona A Tourist Trap

While Tombstone is definitely a popular tourist destination, it is not necessarily a tourist trap. The town’s historic sites and attractions, such as the OK Corral, the Bird Cage Theatre, and Boot Hill Cemetery, offer visitors a unique glimpse into the Old West and the town’s history. However, most shops and businesses in town do cater to tourists.

tombstone's east allen street where all the attractions can be found

To Finish – From Phoenix To Tombstone Az

Whether you fly, drive, or take one of the day tours, Tombstone should be on your list to visit. But we feel taking a road trip offers a unique and exciting adventure through the heart of Arizona’s Old West.

Along the way, you can explore historic towns, national parks, and natural wonders and immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of the region.

From the scenic drive along the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway to the fascinating exhibits at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, there is something for everyone on this road trip.

Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply looking for a fun and memorable getaway, a Phoenix to Tombstone road trip will leave you with lasting memories of Arizona’s rugged and beautiful landscape.