..An hour from Phoenix, Wickenburg is perfectly situated for a quick road trip. Most folks speed through town on their way to Las Vegas. But take a gamble on exploring Wickenburg's mining and ranching roots. The nearby Vulture Mine offers a weekly tour except in summer.
The $10 tours are at 10 am Saturdays, resuming in the fall of 2016. Drive 12 miles south of U.S. 60 on the paved Vulture Mine Road.
Henry Wickenburg discovered gold at what became the Vulture Mine in 1862 and Vulture City grew into a town of close to 5,000 people before it virtually disappeared. The mine's buildings of adobe, stone and wood are crumbling in the elements. Jerome and Bisbee are touted as ghost towns but Vulture is the real deal. There is still a small mining operation on the site.
Museum features cowboy artists
Back in town, the Desert Caballeros Western Museum is full of historical exhibits and notable Western art ranging from Thomas Moran to Frederic Remington and Joe Beeler to Ed Mell.
The historic district near the museum includes the restored 1895 Sante Fe Railroad depot and Ben's Saddlery, which dates back to 1949. The shop is worth a visit just for the aroma of leather for custom saddles. Ben's also sells boots, belts and cowboy hats.
The single-screen Saguaro Theater is still operating on Wickenburg Way. Rancho 7 Restaurant & Lounge and the Horseshoe Cafe on
the main drag are popular places to eat. Anita's Cocina serves spicy Mexican food and margaritas at 57 Valentine Street.