15 Best Things to Do in Wickenburg, AZ

Wickenburg, AZ
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The small town of Wickenburg, Arizona, is the perfect place to kick back and relax.

You can do many things at Wickenburg, so you're sure to find something that interests you.

From museums and hiking trails to water parks, there's a little bit of everything for everyone here.

Wickenburg is a veritable oasis in the Arizona desert, with over 300 days of sunlight per year and many activities.

Explore historical sites, go horseback riding, take a jeep trip, pick a hiking path, spend the night at a ranch, etc.

Begin your adventure along Wickenburg Way with this list of the best things to do in town.

Enjoy the Splendor of the Old West at Desert Caballeros Western Museum

Name sign of Desert Caballeros Western Museum
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The Desert Caballeros Western Museum is one of Wickenburg's main attractions for travelers wishing to immerse themselves in the town's Old West atmosphere.

The museum has a restored saloon, a hotel with period-accurate furniture, and full-scale recreations of the area's inhabitants and history.

There are also several Native American goods on display, including rugs, ceramics, and blankets, the majority manufactured by the locals.

There's also a fun gift store.

Statue of a cowboy and his dog on the grounds of Desert Caballeros Western Museum
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Learn about the cultural history of the American West via a famous collection of great Western art, historical exhibitions, and engaging education programs.

There are prized works from Catlin and the Taos Society of Artists and Bierstadt and Moran.

Every spring, Art from the Other Half of the West presents hundreds of new pieces from 58 of the country's leading female artists.

Discover local gold mining history & Arizona minerals; meet the Native American tribes of the Southwest by exploring their tools and crafts.

Witness the Beautiful Restoration of Vulture Mine

A restored garage at Vulture Mine
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The ancient Vulture Mine site on North Vulture Mine Road shows you another side of Wickenburg's history.

After hearing that the mines had struck gold, people came to the region.

Then, the town grew to roughly 5,000 people at its height.

They hoped to find gold and become wealthy during the American Gold Rush.

By 1880, the camp had grown into a self-contained town thanks to the mine's prosperity.

A vintage mining equipment at Vulture Mine
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It was known as Vulture City at the time, and it included six boarding houses, a cookhouse and mess hall, a blacksmith shop, various mining structures, shops, offices, salons, and even a school.

Though visiting Vulture Mine isn't the cheapest thing to do in the neighborhood, it's a fascinating sight, and you can tour the grounds and take photos.

Before entering the site, you must sign a disclaimer because of the risks linked with ancient mines and heavy machinery.

You can join guided tours there, done beyond summer.

Interior of a house at Vulture Mine
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Gaze at Quirky Local Art at Gramma Lizard's

Downtown Wickenburg, Arizona's historic district, is a visual and emotional feast for the senses.

Gramma Lizard's is no exception.

Nancy, called "Gramma" to her community, is the proud owner.

She is a painter of whimsy, fine art, and folk art.

An art gallery dedicated to showcasing works of art that are the result of an individual's own unique vision was launched by Gramma in 2012.

Aside from folk art and hand-painted furniture, she sells antique and one-of-a-kind western table lamps, apparel, and jewelry.

There are other pieces by other local artists in metal, porcelain, and wood at Gramma Lizard's.

Take Good Photos at the Hassayampa River Preserve

Palm lake at Hassayampa River Preserve
John Menard from Phoenix, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wickenburg was a transit center for products moving between Phoenix, Flagstaff, and California before motorized transportation arrived in Arizona.

The Hassayampa River played a part in the flow of trade.

Its Wickenburg section has become a nature park designed to preserve its historical significance.

The river's bridge and surrounding trails are ideal for taking a stroll and taking in the view.

The riparian ecosystem attracts a variety of desert creatures, which you may view best in the morning and dusk.

You'll feel like you're miles away from civilization.

A pretty bird on a tree at Hassayampa River Preserve
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The Hassayampa River runs underground for most of its 100-mile journey across the desert.

However, crystal clear waters emerge within the preserve and flow above ground all year.

Some of the desert's most magnificent fauna live in this lush streamside environment.

However, since riparian habitats have vanished from the Arizona terrain, many of them have become gravely endangered.

The Nature Conservancy monitors conservation at the preserve after protecting it and investing in its rehabilitation.

In addition, the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department continues to ensure this beautiful location remains a fantastic outdoor area for the public.

A wooden bench along Hassayampa River Preserve's trail
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Catch a Show at the Del Webb Center for the Performing Arts

The Del Webb Center for the Performing Arts is one of the go-to places for performing arts, rivaling anything in Phoenix or Scottsdale.

It features nationally recognized artists, comedians, and theatrical companies from all over the country.

The center offers artist residency programs at a historic guest ranch in Wickenburg, Arizona, to support established performing artists' creative, collaborative, and performance endeavors.

Each residency provides innovative businesses the freedom to work on new ideas, produce shows, and engage with other artists without the demands of regular life.

Guests may visit the guy ranch from October to May each year.

The farm, set on 20,000 acres of high Sonoran desert, is the ideal place to research, create, and produce new work away from the distractions of ordinary life.

With roughly 600 seats, the center is large enough to draw celebrities but small enough to feel private.

Visitors remark on the center's outstanding acoustics and vistas even from the cheapest seats.

The venue also hosts a wide range of local and regional events.

Some of the most popular performances sell out fast.

The Webb Center receives funding from the RH Johnson Foundation, Wellik Foundation, WESTAF, and the National Endowment for the Arts to host the artists or firms chosen to participate in the residency programs.

These funds cover artist stipends, accommodation, and food at the guest ranch.

See the Beautiful Scenery of the Vulture Peak Trail

Scenic view at Vulture Peak's uphill trail
Arlene Waller / Shutterstock.com

At over 4,000 feet, Vulture Peak is a well-known landmark only a few miles south of Wickenburg.

Vulture Peak Route is a 6.1-kilometer moderately used circle trail in Wickenburg, Arizona, allowing visitors to observe animals.

The best time to use the road is from March to October, which offers a wide range of recreational opportunities.

The trailhead is right off Route 60 outside of town.

Although the trek to the top isn't very lengthy, the final half-mile is steep and challenging.

Most healthy hikers should be able to do it.

According to some estimates, you can view 30 or 40 miles into the desert from the summit, and most of the time, the surrounding desert is dotted with giant saguaros, mountains, and an infinite blue sky.

Desert landscape of Vulture Peak Trail
Arlene Waller / Shutterstock.com

The path is open to the public, with a log-in pad in an old can near the entrance if you want to write your name into the trail's official register.

There are just two miles between the foot of Vulture Peak's peak and a saddle just below the summit on the short but steep Vulture Peak Path route.

You can find it seven miles south of Wickenburg, Arizona.

Experienced hikers might struggle climbing an extremely steep and narrow gully to Vulture Peak's summit from here (3,660 feet).

Only experienced and well-conditioned hikers should try the final climb, for it suffers poor maintenance.

Snaking through typical Sonoran Desert vegetation like cholla and ocotillo, you will enjoy the panoramic vistas from the Vulture Peak Trail.

Take photos of the view over desert washes and mountainous desert expanses in every direction.

Tall and short cacti along Vulture Peak Trail
Arlene Waller / Shutterstock.com

Experience an Authentic Mining Camp at Robson's Ranch

Robson's Ranch and Mining Camp is approximately 20 miles outside Wickenburg, Arizona.

It's one of Arizona's oldest and best-preserved mining claims.

This intriguing Western hamlet, surrounded by the vast Saguaro cactus forests of the legendary Sonoran Desert, will make you feel you've journeyed back in time!

Robson's ranch encapsulates the spirit of the early 1900s, displaying the history of a formerly bustling prospecting and commercial community.

The most extensive collection of vintage mining equipment in Arizona features artifacts from this period!

You'll also like the historic barbershop, opera theatre, ice cream parlor, post office, grocery store, and assay office, all brimming with antiques.

Robson's ranch, considered one of the state's oldest, most genuine, and best-maintained mining claim sites, saw its first miners in the early 1900s.

Today, it houses one of the world's largest collections of mining gear and paraphernalia.

Robson's Ranch & Mining Camp is one of Arizona's oldest and finest maintained original mining claims, located approximately 20 miles west of historic Wickenburg.

This unusual location sits next to Arizona's second-biggest Saguaro cactus forest.

It also has some of the state's biggest Yavapai Apache petroglyphs.

Day trips without reservations are allowed every day except Mondays.

If you want guidance from a local who can take you to Native American petroglyphs and breathtaking panoramas, join group tours and activities.

You can also join cattle drives and horseback trips.

See the Historic Santa Fe Depot

Exterior of Historic Santa Fe Depot
Rosemarie Mosteller / Shutterstock.com

Around the 1920s, Wickenburg's Historic Santa Fe Terminal had become the sole surviving wooden depot built by the Santa Fe Railroad Line.

The Santa Fe Railroad intended to replace its wooden depots as the previous one was too out of date.

However, citizens of Wickenburg thought that their artisan-built "Old West" station was an essential component of the town's culture.

A steam locomotive at Historic Santa Fe Depot
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As soon as the historic terminal stopped serving passengers, locals began contacting the Santa Fe Railroad's administrative office, pleading for the depot to be acquired for redevelopment.

Now serving as the Chamber of Commerce's HQ in Wickenburg, the wooden Santa Fe station is one of Arizona's oldest.

It's still very much the same as when it was first built.

Explore the Kay El Bar Guest Ranch

Kay El Bar is a historic guest ranch situated on the Hassayampa River in Wickenburg's foothills, near the Bradshaw Mountains.

If you want to relive Arizona's Wild West days, go to the Kay El Bar Guest Ranch.

Horseback riding in the Sonoran Desert is just one of the many exciting activities at the ranch.

It was established in the late 1800s as a cow ranch with adobe walls composed of 18-inch-thick sun-dried bricks created by the local Maricopa Native Americans.

Visitors may enjoy all the contemporary conveniences of a hotel while staying at this beautifully refurbished old guy ranch.

Go Off-roading with Adventures of a Lifetime ATV

The Adventures of a Lifetime company offers off-road experiences in Wickenburg's surrounding desert.

It allows visitors to explore deserted gold mines and ghost towns, drive through gorges, and scale mountaintops.

You'll visit areas you wouldn't otherwise.

They specialize in small-group desert safaris in open-air four-passenger desert Rhinos that promise an experience of a lifetime in an environment both distant and ancient.

You may choose from various trips, including the Box Canyon, Crown King, Gold Rush, Wickenburg Massacre, Sunset Tours, and Vulture Pass tours.

Take Pictures with the Jail Tree

Daytime view of the Jail Tree
Paul R. Jones / Shutterstock.com

As a reminder of Wickenburg's history, a 200-year-old mesquite tree stands on Tegner Street and Wickenburg Way.

A rough-and-tumble Wild West town, Wickenburg was established in the mid-19th century.

Inhabitants included gold-crazed miners, vengeful Indians, lawless Wild West gunslingers, and other criminals.

The marker of Jail Tree
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In local folklore, Wickenburg didn't have a jail until 1890, so they shackled the prisoners to the Jail Tree until the government transferred them to a real prison in Phoenix.

Artist Seward Johnson re-created this fable by making a life-size sculpture of a melancholy cowboy dressed in conventional prison stripes, sitting on the ground with one ankle shackled to a tree.

Visit the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce, located in the Old Train Depot, to learn more about the city's history and the Jail Tree.

Experience the Paranormal at Wickenburg Legends and Ghost Tours

Whether you're hoping to catch orbs on film, learn about Wickenburg's history, or have fun, you won't be disappointed with these tours.

Wickenburg has a rich history of colorful personalities, outlaws, and explorers, so it's no surprise that the town has its fair share of ghost tales and frightening sites.

Madam Mariah gives highly exclusive excursions on her Ghost Coaster and Doom Bugg.

She tells guests stories, traditions, and history about the ancient places you'll pass by and individuals who lived in the city when the streets were filled with swaggering cowboys, miners obsessed with gold, and wild explorers.

Whatever your luck with the spirits, you're sure to discover more about the exciting history of this city and the people who established it on your tour!

Listen to the Performance of Wickenburg Friends of Music

The Wickenburg Friends of Music is one of the oldest presenting groups in Wickenburg and, probably, Arizona.

In 1974, two women presented the mayor with a proposal that would eventually become the foundation of this organization.

This community-based, music-presenting group brings live professional musical performances to the town.

The generosity of corporate and private supporters enabled the group to give free performances.

The Friends of Music provide Sunday afternoon concerts at the Wickenburg Community Center.

Cool Down with Chaparral Homemade Ice Cream

Chaparral Homemade Ice Cream, known for its bright and cheery interior, is a favorite among the community's ice cream lovers.

This adorable local ice cream parlor-slash-coffee shop has many homemade ice creams, adding new flavors every day.

Shakes, malts, and ice cream sodas are also on the menu, with hot fudge and brownies for dessert.

Whole-day breakfasts, innovative sandwiches, salads, hot soups, quality hot dogs, and more are available.

Either dessert or sandwiches are fine starting points.

They also feature a separate area for small gatherings and celebrations.

Final Thoughts

Wickenburg and the surrounding region belonged to Mexico until the Gadsden Treaty, which ended the Mexican-American War.

The United States received vast territories from Mexico because of the treaty, signed in 1848.

Wickenburg's economy focused on mining and the transportation of products between Arizona and California until the early 20th century.

Tourism is now the area's most popular source of revenue, accounting for the bulk of Wickenburg's funds.

Plan your holiday and see Wickenburg for yourself!

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