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Vulture Gold Mine - Wickenburg, Arizona
A Historic Ghost Town
Vulture Gold Mine is in Maricopa County Arizona, just outside the town of Wickenburg.
The Mine was discovered by Henry Wickenburg in 1863. It went on to become the largest producing gold mine in Arizona's history. President Franklin Roosevelt closed the mine in 1942, and the once thriving community of Vulture City became a ghost town.
This is the most authentic ghost town that my husband, daughter, and I visited on a trip through Arizona in May 2010. While it is open for self guided tours, it hasn't been made into a tourist-y spot all done up for effect. The buildings are original with some in worse shape than others. You are free to go into them, but there are reminders to use caution posted in each.
From Downtown Wickenburg, take US 60 W (also called W Wickenburg Way).
Turn left at S Vulture Mine Rd.
Drive for 12 miles.
You'll see the entrance on your right.
Follow the dirt driveway to the parking area in front of a building called the Vulture’s Roost.
- Note: There is a $10 fee to walk through Vulture City.
Backroads of Arizona
Paperback: 160 pages
Published: November 2006
Ghost Towns of the Southwest
Paperback: 256 pages
Published: March 2010
An Introduction to the Mine
Visiting the Mine
The Vulture Gold Mine is open for self guided tours. (Not recommended for children under 6.)
Fall and Winter
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday
8 am to 4 pm
Spring and Summer
Friday, Saturday, Sunday
8 am to 4 pm
Call 602-859-2743 for tour information.
My favorite structure on the site was the Assay Office and Shot-Gun Guards Living Quarters. It's the first building you come to on the tour and one of the most complete buildings still standing.
Downstairs is the office, bullion storage room, living room, dining room and kitchen. A bedroom and shower are located upstairs.
The stone used in it's construction came right from the mine. It's estimated that the walls contain $600,000 of gold and silver ore.
The spaces are sparse, but they still contain items from long ago.
In addition to the Assay Office mentioned above you're also able to walk through Wickenburg's house, and other living quarters like the bunk house for mine workers. The Mess Hall is in pretty decent shape still with a large cast iron stove, wooden ice box, random pans, dishes and containers all still there. Further away you'll come to the Power House used to produce electricity for the mine operation, the Ball Mill where material was crushed and powered for processing, and the main mine shaft next to where Wickenburg first found gold.
There are quite a few buildings and artifacts on the site. You can spend hours out there taking it all in. Make sure to have a meal before going, we didn't eat much for breakfast and we started getting worn out. Between empty stomachs and the hot sun at one point we had had enough. I think we'd have stayed longer if we'd planned a bit better. My husband recommends bringing umbrellas for shade. It's also a good idea to wear good walking shoes or hiking boots. And make sure to bring a good camera! There are so many great photographs to be taken here.
Compact, lightweight, full frame camera.
Airmesh and leather uppers make it breathable and comfortable in warm temperatures. The Vibram outsole offers flexibility, traction and support.
Average Wickenburg Temps
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