Today I’ve been daydreaming about a southern Arizona road trip, specifically southeast Arizona. It’s cooler than Phoenix this time of year, and it’s home to one of my favorite cities in the Grand Canyon state, Bisbee.
Bisbee is a former mining boomtown where nearly three million ounces of gold and more than eight billion pounds of copper were once pulled out of the surrounding Mule Mountains. For a brief window in history, Bisbee was one of the most prosperous mining camps in the world. In the early 1900s, it also boasted one of the most diverse and largest populations (about 20,000) in the Southwest. Today, the dried-up mines are a tourist attraction, and the town has found a new identity as a high desert arts colony, antique shopping destination, and simply one of the prettiest small towns in Arizona.
Meandering sidewalks, colorful bungalows stacked on rolling hills, art galleries, high desert wildflowers, secondhand book shops, great coffee, and a gracious old hotel that is said to be haunted…It’s all enough to make me want to shack up in the high desert all summer long with my beloved, the dogs and a stack of good books.
One Bisbee destination that has eluded me (but hopefully not for much longer) is the The Shady Dell, a hip trailer park hotel and overall fun throwback to mid-century style and leisure. The property has nine fully restored vintage aluminum travel trailers, each with its own small grassy yard and lounge chairs. The interiors are well-stocked with vintage radios, coffee table books, record player and period-appropriate music.
The park is open seasonally–spring and fall–which means travelers can expect relatively mild and accommodating temperatures during their stay. That said, each trailer does have a good, old-fashioned swamp cooler for those nights when summer starts creeping in.
But I would brave a few drops of sweat for a night in the 1947 Tiki Bus. Or, for that matter, the 1951 Royal Mansion, which comes stocked with a leopard print carpet and martini glasses. Who’s up for a game of cards and some Sinatra?
[Photos of The Shady Dell: The Shady Dell