Visitors to the Grand Canyon, and Arizona, can embark in any number of activities that are exciting, many of which provide a first-hand experience or a front row seat to the history and ambiance of this culturally diverse region.
Go to a rodeo. Visitors can attend a rodeo and see real cowboys and cowgirls do their thing: roping steers, riding bulls and broncos, tying calves, barrel racing and more. A rodeo is the Old West like it was. Some of Arizona's most popular rodeos include the Prescott Frontier Days, in Prescott, AZ, which is the world's oldest rodeo. Or, check out the Pine Country Rodeo in Flagstaff, AZ, or head to Tucson for the La Fiesta De LOS Vaqueros or Desert Thunder Pro Rodeo.
Witness a staged Wild West shootout or gunfight.
Williams, AZ, just 50 miles south of the South Rim, is home to the historic Grand Canyon Railway. In addition to riding this historic train to the Grand Canyon, visitors are treated to Wild West Shootout reenactments that are scheduled at the nearby corral about 30 minutes before each train departure.
There's perhaps no better place to do this than Tombstone, AZ., known best for its historic gunfight at the O.K. Corral that occurred in 1881. This gunfight is preserved and visitors can pay a small admission to see it. However much of this street fight occurred on Tombstone's Fremont Street (modern Highway 80) so visitors can still experience this site of historical Old West significance free of charge. Attend Wyatt Earp Days, held every Memorial Day Weekend, to raise money for youth activities. This year's is May 23-25. The celebration consists of a chili cook-off, fashion shows by the Tombstone Vigilettes and gunfight re-enactments by the Tombstone Vigilantes and others. The Tombstone Vigilantes once again will host the Re-Enactment Competition as well as the Costume Competition. Aug. 7-9, attend Vigilante Days, an event in Tombstone that features gunfight re-enactments on historic Allen St., 1880's fashion shows, Chili Cook-off, 10K run, and more.
Also in Tombstone, on Oct. 16-18 is Helldorado Days In July 1881, a disgruntled miner writes the Tombstone Nugget newspaper stating that instead of finding their "eldorado" of riches, many men ended up washing dishes or other menial jobs, finding instead, their "Helldorado". The term stuck. Helldorado is Tombstone's oldest festival celebrating its rip-roaring days of the 1880's. Helldorado, started in 1929, is sponsored by Helldorado, Inc. whose membership is composed of residents in Cochise County. Helldorado is held every third weekend in October and consists of gunfight re-enactment shows, street entertainment, fashion shows and a family oriented carnival. In addition, come and watch the Annual Helldorado Parade on Sunday at 11am.
Attend an authentic Indian Powwow. There are numerous Indian Powwows that occur throughout the year in Arizona. In March is the Intertribal Powwow, hosted by the Apache Gold Casino & Resort and features authentic Native American Artists and Vendors. In early April is the Fort McDowell Casino's 25th Anniversary Powwow. In April is the Unity Powwow, at the Navajo Village Heritage Center, in Page, AZ Check www.ArizonaGuide.com for specifics and additional Indian Powwow events that are scheduled.
Historic Train Rides.Grand Canyon Railway, based in Williams, AZ, just an hour south of Grand Canyon's south rim, provides 2-hour train rides, complete with living history and entertainment, to and from the South Rim. Visitors will go back in time on this adventurous ride. This is a phenomenal and fun way to get to the Grand Canyon and back. Camp Verde Railway, based a little to the south, in Clarkdale, AZ. Billing itself as "Arizona's longest running nature show," the Verde Canyon Railroad provides a journey along a historic route into Verde Canyon to the ghost ranch, Perkinsville, and back. Expert narration and open-air gondola provide passengers with a sense of the routes' jistory, archaeology, geology, wildlife and Indian lore of the Verde Canyon.
Chuckwagon Dinners/Old West Cookout. Experience the Old West like it was by treating yourself to a Chuckwagon Dinner sometimes called an Old West Cookout. There are plenty of opportunities in Arizona to enjoy this while on your Grand Canyon vacation. One good one is at the Blazin' M Ranch, in Cottonwood, AZ. Called "first class, rip roarin' family entertainment" by one reporter, this is a great Western activity for Grand Canyon visitors to include on their travel itinerary. At 6:30 pm the dinner bell rings and guests are treated to all-you-can-eat chuckwagon grub in a climate-controlled "barn" (rain or shine) served by "cowpokes" on a tin plate and tin cup. After supper, sit back and enjoy entertainment by the Blazin' M Cowboys, who will amaze you with their hour-long Western stage production that includes cowboy music and more.
Mine Tours. Tour the Queen Mineis Bisbee, AZ, which is about 80 milesc southeast of Tucson in southern Arizona. The Queen Mine was one of the most productive copper mines in the 20th Century. Visitors get to experience the life of a miner. Wearing mining lanterns, hats and slickers, visitors ride a train deep into the old mine and get to search for remaining veins of copper, gold, turquoise, silver, lead and zinc. Another mine to tour is the Good Enough Underground Mine in Tombstone, AZ, where visitors descend 550 feet into the ground to explore this old mine.