Prepared by Whitney James for Visit USA Parks
Spend a long weekend in Bisbee, Arizona. We’ve designed this itinerary like a wagon wheel: each day you’ll depart on a new adventure, and each night you’ll return to Bisbee to enjoy the art, culture, and food that make this such a unique destination in the American West.
175 miles / 282 km
Spring through Fall
Tucked into the hills of the Mule Mountains, Bisbee, Arizona is a historic mining town with a big personality. Once one of the richest mineral sites in the world, today it’s the perfect hub for outdoor activity in southern Arizona. You could spend weeks on end exploring the hidden corners of Bisbee. But for those short on time, we designed this three-day itinerary with a big focus on nature. Over the course of a weekend, you’ll tour historic museums, identify rare hummingbirds, and meander through volcanic rock pinnacles—all while getting your steps in.
Bisbee is a great place to visit year-round, but keep in mind that it’s located at 5,538 feet elevation. That’s higher than Denver, Colorado! That means that in the winter, any precipitation is likely to come down in the form of snowflakes (which makes for beautiful photos of Bisbee’s many vistas and architectural features). No matter what time of year you visit, you can expect cool nights. Bring both layers and sunblock, and always remember to stay hydrated when adventuring at elevation.
#1 ARRIVE AND EXPLORE BISBEE
1-5 HOURS WALKING – 2-6 MILES / 3-10 KM
Get acclimated to Bisbee on day one. We don’t just mean the elevation! Bisbee’s many homes and businesses are located at odd angles and heights. In some places they seem to stack on top of each other, and in others, one-way streets and mind-bending corners can surprise first-time visitors. There’s no better way to get your bearings than to park your car and walk around on your own two feet.
Check your belongings into your lodging–Bisbee offers many charming bed and breakfasts–and head out in search of the famous Heritage Stairs. Scattered throughout town, each set of stairs forms a network of interconnected pathways. Up, down, and around…you can spend hours exploring Bisbee’s hidden gems this way. Just don’t miss the iconic Broadway Stairs Gallery in Brewery Gulch for a great photo opportunity!
As soon as the sun sets, grab dinner at one of Bisbee’s many restaurants. The Bisbee Table serves up artisan cocktails and American fare, while the Screaming Banshee is a favorite for pizza. Then, let a local guide the way on the Old Bisbee Ghost Tour. You’ll find out just why some people think of the supernatural when they think of Bisbee. Plus, you’ll find out if your hotel is haunted!
#2 HIKING IN CHIRICAHUA NATIONAL MONUMENT
1 HOUR 40 MINUTES – 71 MILES / 114.3 KM
On your second day in Bisbee, leave the Mule Mountains behind and take a mini-road trip to Chiricahua National Monument. Located under two hours away, this is the perfect place to learn about the unique geology of southern Arizona’s Sky Islands. The most identifying feature of the monument itself are the thousands of rock pinnacles formed by volcanic activity 27 million years ago; a photographer and geologist’s dream. Pick up a map from the visitor’s center and chat with a park ranger about the flora and fauna in the area—they are a wonderful resource of information and are always happy to chat! Then, take to the trails. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy a picnic at the halfway point. Or, opt for a table beneath the shade of mesquite trees at Faraway Ranch on your way back to Bisbee that afternoon.
That evening, enjoy a self-guided tour of Bisbee’s many watering holes. Old Bisbee Brewing Company offers a variety of craft brews, while the Bisbee Grand has a homemade chai cocktail (and more) that are sure to please. Looking to sample Arizona’s viticulture? Swing by Mile High Muncheese to pick up a bottle to go. You may also consider returning to one of the haunts from last night’s ghost tour for some time bellied up to the bar, keeping an eye out for resident ghosts.
#3 BIRDING IN RAMSEY CANYON PRESERVE
41 MINUTES – 32 MILES / 52 KM
On your final day in Bisbee, Arizona, you have a few options. After breakfast, spend a few hours diving deep into the past at the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum. Alternatively, you can dive deep into the earth on a Queen Mine Tour. Either way, you will get a closer look into just how Bisbee came to be and what life was like for its inhabitants up until about 50 years ago when the mines shut down. Afterwards, continue west for an afternoon at Ramsey Canyon Preserve. Protected by the Nature Conservancy, this area in the Huachuca Mountains is known for the high diversity of birds who frequent it year-round. Spend some time at the visitor’s center observing the antics of the hummingbirds, then hike up the Hamburg Trail for a heart-pumping climb. You’ll be rewarded with views from a number of lookout points depending on how far you go.
Upon returning to the trailhead, either retrace your steps for another night in Bisbee, or continue north to Tucson and the next part of your Arizona itinerary.