Bisbee, Arizona: Legend of the Old West

Odometer (Legend):  519,137


Odometer (ILX):  25,854



Fire up the DeLorean, Doc Brown.  We’re going back to 1885.  Rain or shine, for this weekend’s roadtrip I decided to take the Legend out of town.  Bisbee is about 210 miles away from my home in Scottsdale.  It was founded as a mining town in the 1880’s and today is home to about 6,000 people (the population has remained constant since about 1950).  Check out the route that my friend Josh and I took yesterday (“A” to “B”):



The Phoenix area gets an average of over 300 days of sunshine per year, yet we picked a day when it was absolutely dumping rain.  I was more paranoid about getting my car dirty than anything else.  The Legend is as sure-footed as ever thanks to a fresh set of Michelin Primacy MXV4 tires that were installed only 7,000 miles ago.


First stop was just north of Tucson, Arizona for some fuel and snacks.


The rain really decided to let loose right around this time.  Back on Interstate 10, traffic was at a 35 mph crawl for much of the drive through metro Tucson.


Slowly the clouds parted as we made our way to Benson, Arizona where we pulled off I-10 and took Highway 80 through the towns of St. David and Tombstone.  Here is a picture at the Boothill Graveyard near the entrance to Tombstone.


This was the third time my Legend has been to Tombstone – the first was back in February 2006 when I went with my friend Chris.  My car had 2004 Acura TL 17″ wheels on it at the time (and only around 209,000 miles).


At that time, Chris and I parked our cars in front of the “legendary” Boothill Graveyard.  Chris’ car was a 1994 L sedan automatic in Sherwood Green Metallic.


There are many more pictures from our adventure that day in the Legend forums thread here.

Continuing on Hwy 80, Josh and I made our way toward Bisbee.



Just before arriving in Bisbee on Hwy 80 from the west, we went through the Mule Pass Tunnel which was completed in 1958.



Finally, a one-lane curvy road called Tombstone Canyon Road takes us through what is now known as “Old Bisbee.”


Josh and I wandered around this area and peeked inside some of these shops, including the Bisbee Olive Oil Company that was giving out free samples.


Soon, our new friend Jason arrived.  He’s the man behind the blog “Driven for Drives” which captures his ownership experience with his gorgeous silver 2004 Honda Accord V6 6-speed coupe.  It has about 109,000 miles on it.




Bisbee lies only about 10 miles from the Mexican border, so we saw a lot of Border Patrol vehicles out and about.  I also spotted several vehicles with Mexican license plates, including a van from the state of Sonora and another van from the state of Jalisco.



Following a coworker’s recommendation, we had lunch at a place called Santiago’s, located on the ground floor of the 1902 San Ramon Hotel.  The tacos are highly recommended!


Jason, Tyson, Josh – at Santiago’s


Photo Re-Creation Experiment

The November 2012 issue of Arizona Highways Magazine had a special section with “then and now” photos from various locations in the state.  The opening picture in the article was Main Street in Bisbee.  This picture was taken in 1940.


The opposite page, pictured below, contained a picture from the same angle taken in 2012.


I was determined to re-create the image, so Jason and I sought out the location where it was taken.


We found it.  Here again for comparison are the picture from 1940, and our picture from 2013.



And finally, a side-by-side.  Thanks Aunt Jodi for putting these images together!


Spot on!  It’s been 73 years.  The buildings look the same, but the cars have changed.


A couple more shots that Josh took while Jason and I did a drive-by.





Next up, we took a little driving tour of town.  Given Bisbee’s notoriety as a ghost town destination, tourists can even take a tour in a hearse!  We opted instead to take the Legend and the Accord.  Because of the steep terrain, many of these roads are one-laners (but still allowing traffic to go both directions).  I feared that we might meet another vehicle head-on and have to back down this road, but traffic worked in our favor and we didn’t.


Homes and shops are built into the side of the side of the Mule Mountains.



Because of the terrain, many homes can only be reached by steps.  There’s a 5-kilometer race event called the Bisbee 1,000 Stair Climb that goes up and down 1,034 stairs.  The 2013 event will be held on October 19th.  I might have to give this one some consideration!


A look at the Copper Queen Mine in the background of the cars here.  This huge mine hasn’t produced any ore since 1975, but tours are still offered.


Copper, gold, and silver were the main ores extracted from the hills during the mining frenzy of Bisbee’s birth.  One reference that I saw indicated that at one time, Bisbee had the highest population of any town located between St. Louis and San Francisco.

One of the sights I wanted to see was the Shady Dell RV Park which is located just a few miles south of Bisbee.  This quaint place right off Highway 80 is a place where people can take a step back in time to the 1950’s and 1960’s and spend a night in one of 10 historic travel trailers.  The “feel” here is so authentic because the owners have gone to great lengths to make it seem like a time warp.  They don’t even offer wireless Internet – because “It hasn’t been invented yet.”



Thanks to Jason for this great picture of my Legend’s interior.


After parting ways, Josh and I headed back on I-10 to the Phoenix area and chased a freight train near Picacho Peak.


Hope you enjoyed the drive to Bisbee!

The March 2013 issue of Motor Trend magazine is already out, and it looks like their long-term test subject, the ILX 2.4, is doing well.  Editor Mike Floyd reports that at just under 10,000 miles, the only maintenance item has been an oil change and the ILX is delivering great gas mileage.


Last night, after dinner with a few friends, as I was approaching the ILX I played around with the key fob and held the “unlock” button for more than a couple of seconds.  To my surprise, all four windows and the moonroof slid open!  This is a feature I definitely did not know existed before.  I continue discovering things like this about my 2013 ILX.  Josh spent some time behind the wheel today as we took an airport run.


We picked up a friend and his dog – “Ike” – a French bulldog.  First time I’ve hauled a pet in the ILX!


Hope everyone else had a fun and adventurous weekend, too.

8 Responses to “Bisbee, Arizona: Legend of the Old West”

  1. Awesome pix, Tyson! Bisbee was a blast and I’m glad you and Josh enjoyed it too. Your project of recreating that old pic of downtown came out great! Doing stuff like that is my sort of thing. It’s funny how we both took a picture of the “Entering Bisbee” sign on both ends of the town. I’ll be checking back for more of your adventures!

    • Jason, I thought the same thing about how we both ended up documenting “Entering Bisbee,” just at opposite ends of Highway 80. Great minds think alike! I am definitely going to add Carlsbad Caverns to my list of sights to see – will let you know when I make it out there to NM!

  2. Also, thank you for letting me take the wheel of the mighty Legend. That thing is a beast!

    • It was my pleasure! The car is my baby but of all the people who know how to drive & take care of a Honda, you’re near the top of the list. Thanks for letting me pilot the Accord for a couple of miles too.

  3. Fabulous entry, as usual. I was especially intrigued by the homes that can only be reached by stairs. First thought that came to mind: “Man, I bet carrying in the groceries really sucks”!
    As usual, the ever-loyal Acura is still assuring that you travel not only safely but in high style! Good job Tyson, and thanks for letting us share your adventures vicariously!

    • Jodi, I had the same thought about groceries! Perhaps they should install an escalator of sorts to help transport things. Though, I could probably use the exercise of a staircase on a daily basis. I heard you’re gearing up for a half marathon! I may be in St. G that weekend as well – hope to see ya then / there!

  4. Hi Tyson,
    Jason from Baltimore checking in again. Do you think you could do a review of this feature change in the future? I would like to see how it works and get your feedback. I know you have mentioned being an iPhone user.


    • Hey Jason, thanks for checking in. There was a press release distributed from Acura this morning about this same functionality, so I’m going to look into it. Only thing is – I won’t be able to participate until I upgrade from my iPhone 4 to a 4S or 5, since I don’t have Siri. Will keep you posted! Thanks again for dropping a line – hope things are well in Baltimore.

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