a horse drawn stagecoach rides thru Tombstone

From Scottsdale To Tombstone: 11 Best Stops To Enjoy Along The Way

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Exploring Arizona doesn’t get much better than driving from Scottsdale to Tombstone. This is a great road trip for those looking to take in some of the state’s beautiful scenery.

The drive takes you through rugged desert terrain, past cacti-dotted landscapes, and stunning views of mountains in the distance. And along the way, you can stop and explore some of Arizona’s natural and historical sites.

At the end of your trip, you’ll arrive in Tombstone, home to one of America’s most iconic Wild West legends.

So buckle up and get ready for an unforgettable road trip through Arizona!

How Far Is It From Scottsdale To Tombstone

If you take the most direct route between Scottdale and Tombstone without any stops along the way, then it will take you just shy of 3 hours to arrive in Tombstone. Not bad, right?

Best Way To Get From Scottsdale To Tombstone

Driving is going to be your best option for getting to Tombstone.

horse drawn carriage on the streets of tombstone

There are no direct flights. You could fly from Phoenix to Tucson, but you would still have to drive from there. It won’t be worth the hassle, and it will take more time because you will have to arrive at the airport an hour or two before the flight when you could already be driving.

The same applies to a bus. Not only will it take additional time to travel this way, but it will still only get you to Tucson. Then you will have to get a car to travel the rest of the way.

๐Ÿ“– If you are heading to Tombstone, make sure you look at all the things you can do while in the Old West.

Optional Routes When Driving From Scottsdale To Tombstone

There are three routes you can drive from Scottsdale to Tombstone. But because two of the routes are very similar, we will only be discussing two here today.

The one we will not be discussing is very similar to the fastest route, with a slight change in how you travel through Phoenix.

I-10 East – 3 Hrs (Fastest Route)

Option one is the shortest and fastest route.

fastest route map from scottsdale to tombstone

US-60 E/Superstition Fwy/I-10 E – 3.5 Hrs

Option two is only 30 minutes longer, so it is really your personal preference. The deciding factor will be if there is something you want to stop and see along this route that we discuss below.

the most scenic route from scottsdale to tombstone

๐Ÿ“– Thinking about hitting up the Grand Canyon and not sure it is worth it?

Best Stops To Make When Traveling From Scottsdale To Tombstone

If you want to make a day of it, there are some great stops to make along the way, no matter which driving path you choose.

Of course, you won’t be able to see it all unless you give yourself a few days for the journey. But we think you should be able to add in one or two stops and still arrive in the late afternoon/early evening at Tombstone.

Most of the following suggestions do have an entrance fee or ticket requirement.

๐Ÿ“– Once you reach Tombstone, we’ve got you covered if you need a hotel that allows pets!

Along The 1-10 East Route

1. Picacho Peak State Park

Picacho Peak State Park is an outdoor playground of stunning scenery and dramatic landscapes.

Most people stop to do a bit of hiking, and you can hike to the summit of Picacho Peak. The park features two trails that wind their way up the peak, offering spectacular views of the surrounding desert and mountain ranges.

At the top of Picacho Peak is a picturesque vista point where you can take in the sweeping panoramic views of the area’s rugged terrain.

The park also offers plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities for those interestedโ€”with raptors, including hawks and vultures soaring around the peak and desert animals such as coyotes, lizards, and javelinas roaming the park grounds.

Picacho Peak State Park is an unforgettable destination for any outdoor enthusiast.

Address: 15520 Picacho Peak Rd, Picacho, AZ 85141

๐Ÿ“– If you are going to be in Tombstone, consider making a quick trip to Bisbee. It is close by and is another interesting city!

2. Biosphere 2

Biosphere 2 is a fascinating and one-of-a-kind place to visit.

The facility was originally built to study whether humans could live in a contained ecosystem, representing Earth, but in the confines of outer space. Two different experiments in the 1990s focused on the effects of human habitation on diverse ecosystems.

a close up of a cactus
Photo Credit: Hanne Hoogendam

Today, you can tour the Biosphere 2 facility and learn about its history and what is currently being studied there.

Some of the highlights of the tour include walking through the rainforest, desert, and ocean biomes and touring the facility’s laboratories and control rooms.

Biosphere 2 is an integral part of Arizona’s history, and it is well worth a visit for anyone interested in learning more about our planet and its ecosystems.

Plus, if you are a child of the 80s like us, then you should remember a silly movie called Biodome with Pauly Shore. We aren’t sure if any of the movie was filmed on location, but it was definitely based on Biosphere 2.

Address: 32540 S Biosphere Rd, Oracle, AZ 85739

3. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a fantastic place to explore the natural wonders of the Sonoran Desert.

Located in Tucson, Arizona, the museum is a 98-acre park filled with plants, animals, and interactive exhibits that show off the beauty and diversity of the desert.

The museum features a variety of plants ranging from colorful cacti to desert grasslands and wildlife like mountain lions, bobcats, prairie dogs, and birds of prey.

You can wander through the exhibits yourself or partake in interactive activities such as guided hikes and bird-watching walks.

With its diverse landscape, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a must-see for those who want to learn about the Sonoran Desert and its animals.

Address: 2021 N Kinney Rd, Tucson, AZ 85743

4. Saguaro National Park (West)

Saguaro National Park is an excellent choice for those who enjoy visiting our national parks. Not only is it close to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum so you can visit both simultaneously, but it feels like an extension of what you experienced at the museum.

tall saguaro cactus sit before a mountain in saguaro national park west

The park preserves the Sonoran Desert, where you can explore plant and animal life typically found in the region.

The park offers numerous hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of cacti-covered mountains and valleys. You can also take in the majestic views from one of its scenic overlooks.

If you are short on time, rather than hike, you can do the Scenic Bajada Loop Drive. We found this drive to be not only beautiful but a perfect place to take it slow and look for some wildlife.

Saguaro National Park is an unforgettable destination for anyone exploring Arizona’s deserts.

Address: 2700 N Kinney Rd, Tucson, AZ 85743

๐Ÿ“– Want to know about the other national parks & monuments in the state? Read our list.

5. San Xavier Del Bac Mission

San Xavier del Bac Mission is a stunning Spanish Catholic mission in southern Arizona.

The mission was founded in 1692 and is the oldest intact European structure in the region, built between 1783 and 1797. It has survived centuries of invasions and cultural shifts.

During your visit, you can learn about the history of this unique site and admire its beautiful stucco architecture. The mission also features a variety of artworks and religious artifacts, giving you a glimpse into the spiritual culture of its past inhabitants.

The mission is still used for church services and is a national historic landmark.

Address: 1950 W San Xavier Rd, Tucson, AZ 85746

6. Pima Air & Space Museum

The Pima Air and Space Museum is the world’s largest privately funded air museum.

an air suit sits on display in the pima air & space museum
Photo Credit: Olu Gbadebo

The museum houses over 300 aircraft from around the globe and displays numerous artifacts related to aviation history. You can explore the vast collection of planes on display and learn about their historical significance.

With its impressive collection and fascinating stories, the Pima Air and Space Museum is an unforgettable destination for plane enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Unfortunately, the museum used to offer bus tours to the nearby air base graveyard which are no longer available. Let’s hope they reinstate that in the future!

Address: 6000 E Valencia Rd, Tucson, AZ 85756

7. Kartchner Caverns State Park

Kartchner Caverns State Park is a stunning natural landmark with a unique underground cave system.

The limestone cave is filled with crystal-covered formations, including stalagmites, stalactites, and flowing draperies. You can take guided tours of the cave to experience its beauty and discover the area’s geologic history.

There are two options for your tour. You can pick the “throne room” or the “big room.” Either choice will provide you with an excellent cave experience.

Above ground, the park offers activities, including hiking and bird-watching.

๐Ÿ“Ž Tip: It is highly recommended you get reservations for the cave tour if you want to do this activity along the route, as they only keep a handful of tickets each day for walk-ups. The “big room” tour is only available from October to April. The rest of the year is reserved for the bat nursery.

Address: 2980 AZ-90, Benson, AZ 85602

Along The US-60 East Route

If you choose this route, you can still do any of the options from the fastest way. But you also have these options available to you.

8. Goldfield Ghost Town

If you don’t think you will get enough of the Old West with your visit to Tombstone, Goldfield Ghost Town is the stop you should make.

Unlike what you might expect a ghost town to be like, Goldfield is a commercialized ghost town. You won’t find solitude and empty buildings here.

Instead, you will find a reconstruction of the town on its original site with tons of things to see and do.

You can pan for gold, visit the museum, tour the bordello, or see the gold mine. And make sure to attend the gunfight re-enactment, which happens right on the street.

๐Ÿ“Ž Tip: This one is perfect for the kids.

Address: 4650 N Mammoth Mine Rd, Apache Junction, AZ 85119

9. Lost Dutchman State Park

Lost Dutchman State Park is an incredible destination located near the Superstition Mountains.

Named for a lost gold mine, people have been searching these mountains for more than a hundred years trying to find gold. A tale of a Dutchman who came out of the mountains with a bag of gold sparked interest and the search. But does the mine even really exist?

lost dutchman state park is an incredible stop to make when traveling from scottsdale to tombstone - the superstition mountains sits as a backdrop to cactus within the park
Photo Credit: Shelley Pauls

If you want to try your luck, there are plenty of trails you can follow to see if you can be the one to find it.

The park contains an array of diverse landscapes, including rugged mountains and lush desert vegetation. And the Superstition Mountains are a beautiful backdrop to this state park.

Address: 6109 N Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119

10. McFarland State Historic Park

McFarland State Historic Park is a small but unique piece of Arizona history in Florence.

The park features a single adobe brick house constructed in the late 1800s. The building has been everything from a courthouse to a jail to a hospital over the years.

Today it is a museum with historical exhibits detailing the region’s rich history. Make sure to spend some time in the Prisoner of War exhibit area, which includes photos and artifacts from the people who were imprisoned in Florence during WWII (mainly Italians and Germans).

The well-preserved structure and interesting artifacts make it an excellent stop for your road trip from Scottsdale to Tombstone.

Address: 24 W Ruggles St, Florence, AZ 85132

11. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is an important cultural monument.

This ancient site was built by the Hohokam people sometime between 1150 and 1450 CE and is considered one of North America’s largest prehistoric archaeological sites.

Today you can see the ruins of several structures, including the big house for which the monument is named. The big house has outer walls three stories high and an inner room of four levels.

Due to its delicate nature, you cannot go inside the structure but can view it from the outside perimeter.

Address: 1100 W Ruins Dr, Coolidge, AZ 85128

desert landscape at sunset outside tombstone

Tour Option

If you prefer to experience Tombstone on a guided tour, there is one we highly recommend that leaves from Phoenix.

This tour not only takes you to Tombstone for a few hours but also stops at the San Xavier Mission, which we mentioned as an optional stop above for the fastest route.

The tour is all day (12 hours) and has an impressive 4.5 stars.

Book your Phoenix to Tombstone tickets here!

FAQs FOr Visiting Tombstone From Scottsdale

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Go To Tombstone

Spring and fall are the best times to visit Tombstone. We suggest March to April for spring and October to November for fall.

Both seasons will have comfortable daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70sยฐF (15s and 21sยฐC). Evenings will still be chilly as deserts tend to cool quickly.

Spring is lovely as you will begin to see flowers popping up. If you are interested in visiting the Rose Tree Museum while in Tombstone, the roses will bloom during this time and are spectacular.

In the fall, you can plan your trip around Helldorado Days, which happens in October every year. This festival brings thousands of tourists and has activities the whole family can enjoy.

How Much Does It Cost To Get Into Tombstone

Like other towns and cities in the US, Tombstone is free to enter.

The main street, East Allen St, is where most of the attractions and activities can be found. You are welcome to browse all the shops along the street for free. Don’t forget all the sidestreets off East Allen as well. You can find some cute shops there too.

If you want to partake in some of the activities, that is where a cost will be involved. Most of the museums have a small entrance fee, as does things like riding a stagecoach and watching the re-enactment of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral.

the ok corral gunfight site is one of the main attractions in tombstone - here is the sign from out front

How Many Days Do You Need In Tombstone

If you are coming from Scottsdale, we recommend you make this a 2-day trip with an overnight in Tombstone.

The drive from Scottsdale to Tombstone is 3 hours without any breaks, and we have provided you with some interesting places to see along the way that we hope you will decide to do.

If you make some stops, you most likely won’t arrive in Tombstone until late afternoon or early evening. Most shops in town close by 5 or 6 pm, so you won’t be able to see much on that first day.

Have dinner, do a ghost tour, and then spend the day in Tombstone on your second day before heading back to Scottsdale in the evening.

Where To Stay In Tombstone

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

  • Old West feel and decor
  • Peaceful and quiet as it is a couple of miles outside of town
  • Activities on site, like horseback riding

Click here to book your stay at Tombstone Monument Guest Ranch!

Mid-Range ๐Ÿ’ต ๐Ÿ’ต – Tombstone Miners Cabins

  • Cute, cozy cabin with Western decor
  • Close to town, within walking distance
  • Private balconies to rest your weary feet

Click here to book your stay at Tombstone Miners Cabins!

Budget ๐Ÿ’ต – Katie’s Cozy Cabins

  • Individual bungalows with a porch swing
  • Kitchenette
  • Close to East Allen St and activities

Click here to book your stay at Katie’s Cozy Cabins!

Is Tombstone Worth Visiting

The answer is a resounding YES!

If you are interested in the Old West, then Tombstone definitely shouldn’t be missed. Whether you want to learn about cowboys, see the famous site of the O.K. Corral Shootout, or have just seen the movie Tombstone one too many times, the town is a great place to spend some time.

But even if you don’t have an exceptionally high interest in the Old West, Tombstone is still good fun.

We would say we don’t have a particular draw to that time period but still loved spending the day there. We enjoyed seeing the locals in their Old Western attire, toured the mine, and had a drink at Big Nose Kate’s.

And we did a few “Old West” things too and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

east allen street, the main street of tombstone, with beautiful sunset light - the perfect end to a scottsdale to tombstone trip

Enjoy More From The Southwest:
25 Interesting Things To Do In Tombstone, Az
5 Amazing National Parks Near St George, Utah

-Is The Grand Canyon Worth It
24 Unique Arizona National Parks & Monuments Not To Miss
Tombstone Az to Bisbee Az: Getting There & Best Things To Do

To Finish – 11 Best Stops to Enjoy From Scottsdale To Tombstone

Turning a quick trip from Scottsdale to Tombstone into a fun road trip with some interesting stops is the perfect way to explore some of Arizona you might otherwise pass by.

Along the way, you can visit Kartchner Caverns State Park for a breathtaking underground experience, discover the history (and be entertained) at Goldfield Ghost Town, and explore Lost Dutchman State Park with its stunning scenery and the possibility of gold.

Or your can visit McFarland State Historic Park and Casa Grande Ruins National Monument to learn about the region’s fascinating history.

No matter what you choose to do along the way, we know it will be an experience to remember.