We were in Bisbee from February 12 to February 14, 2021, as part of our Winter Warmth Trip.
From Lost Dutchman up near Phoenix, we swung south again almost to Mexico for the last stop on our delightful little tour of Arizona. Bisbee is a small hamlet built into a hillside south of Tucson, full of art galleries, copper mining history, narrow, winding streets, and stairs, lots of stairs. I’ll say more about the stairs later. Bisbee has the feel of a European mountain town, and with a milder climate from the mile-high elevation, it’s a fun addition to an Arizona road trip itinerary.
We stayed at Queen Mine RV Park, a small park without fancy amenities, but with a great location perched above town. We had a view of Old Bisbee from our site, and could easily walk down the hill to the bars and restaurants. We’d definitely stay there again.
Other than hiking around town, we did two hikes while in Bisbee. Well, that’s not exactly true: we did one hike while staying in Bisbee, and one hike on the way from Bisbee to our next destination.
Joe’s Canyon Trail in Coronado National Memorial
Coronado National Memorial is a 35-minute drive from Bisbee, on the Mexican border. We chose the Joe’s Canyon trail for our hike, a 6-mile out-and-back that climbs up to a ridge which leads to Coronado Peak. From the ridge there are long views into the rolling green hills of Mexico, and Yaqui Ridge Trail drops a mile down the side of the mountain to the Mexican border (it was closed when we visited).
Coronado Peak has informational displays about the history of the park and of the expedition of Coronado, the first known European excursion into the United States. The hike was very peaceful; the most people we saw were a family on Coronado Peak, which can also be reached from a nearby parking area. No dogs are allowed in Coronado National Memorial.
Chiricahua National Monument
Chiricahua National Monument is almost an hour-and-a-half east of Bisbee, so maybe not a trip you’d want to make while based there, but if you’re anywhere close by it is absolutely worth visiting. We loved it so much we’re trying to figure out where to stay so we can go again. Do you like Bryce Canyon National Park? Do you dislike crowds? Then Chiricahua is for you! It’s a hoodoo wonderland of gray rhyolite formations, not the red sandstone you see in Utah.
Chiricahua (pronounced cheer-ih-‘cow-wah, by the way–we totally mangled it) has a bunch of trails, a few of which allow dogs, and has trailer parking available in a satellite lot. We left Bugsy snug in the Airstream and drove to the Visitor Center and the Lower Rhyolite Canyon Trail, which connects to Sarah Deming and eventually the Heart of Rocks loop and some of the most interesting hoodoos in the park. The total hike is just over seven miles and was really wonderful.
Bisbee’s easy to explore on foot. The best way to see everything, in our opinion, is to follow the route of the Bisbee 1000 The Great Stair Climb. The Bisbee 1000 is a 4.5-mile race that ascends over 1000 stairs across nine different staircases in Old Bisbee. Here’s an interactive map to help you find your way to all nine staircases, past shops, restaurants, art installations, and many adorable houses that are only accessible by stairs. It’s a super unique way to sightsee!
J and I hadn’t been to Bisbee in about 20 years, but our favorite shop from back in the day is still open! Check out the Killer Bee Guy’s store on Main Street: a tiny shop with a zillion flavors of honey and honey mustard. So delicious and great for gifts!
We also recommend taking a stroll down Erie Street, in what used to be Lowell, Arizona, just a couple minutes from Bisbee’s main drag. It’s kind of an art installation in itself: an abandoned (but maintained by volunteers) street straight from the 1950s.
Eating and drinking
Because we visited during the pandemic, we were only interested in food and drink establishments with outdoor seating. Bisbee has several patios along Main Street and the small streets radiating out into Old Bisbee and we checked out all that we could find.
Old Bisbee Brewing Company has a cozy patio and we wanted to love it there but we found the beers not to our liking and the service extremely slow.
Screaming Banshee Pizza has a nice big patio out front for cocktails and pizza.
Bisbee Social Club had the best cocktails we encountered in town and we sipped them on the tiny patio while getting thrashed by a wind storm.
Thuy’s Noodle Shop has patio seating; we took our delicious Vietnamese carryout back to the Airstream instead, to eat with Bugsy.
Patisserie Jacqui‘s display cases full of gorgeous pastries, tarts, and cakes caught our attention while we walked the Bisbee 1000 route, but when we came back later to treat ourselves it seemed every other tourist in town was in line, so we moved on. Please go get yourself a goodie there and tell us how delicious it is.
More hiking, of course!
- Hike in the Mule Mountains, which surround Bisbee. This trail sounds fun.
- Bird-watch and wander around Ramsey Canyon Preserve
- Visit Cochise Stronghold, another canyon with hiking and birds
- Run the Bisbee 1000!
And this concludes the Arizona portion of our winter warmth trip! Where should we hit next time in AZ?