Vulture Mine Tour – Arizona’s Most Successful Gold Mine

Wickenburg, Arizona.

Near the Phoenix metro is the busy small town of Wickenburg, Arizona. The town is known for the cowboy lifestyle, the home of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, and also home of one of my favorite restaurants, Nana’s Sandwich Shoppe. Wickenburg grew up due to its proximity to the Vulture Mine and a mining town known as Vulture City. Our goal today is to share our visit to the Vulture Mine and Vulture City. The opening image features a shot of the Assay Office and vault where gold from Arizona’s most successful gold mine was stored. The small building to the right is the town’s gift shop, now being constructed as this attraction is still in its growing stage.

Though you can visit the mine any weekday during the cooler months for a self-guided tour, you will want to visit on a Saturday or Sunday when Joyce, dressed in period gear, provides an interesting and informative guided tour. She covers early mine history complete with photos from the era which she carries under her arm throughout the tour. On the weekends, gates open at 9:30AM and the tour starts at 10. Be there early enough to sign in and get your “wristband”. For those who can’t make a weekend tour, the mine is open from 9:00AM to 3:00PM during the tourist season. As the mine is closed outside of these hours, and is seasonal in the cooler months, be sure to contact them to determine the best time for you to visit. You can find contact information and other details on their website here.

Though it was mostly cloudy on this cool mid-December day, we enjoyed the walk through the remains of Vulture City and our visit to the small museum known as Vulture’s Roost which is filled with artifacts from the time period of the city’s existence. Established in 1866, the population grew to around 5000 residents, but disappeared quickly when the mine shut down in 1942. Though the tour is advertised as a Mine Tour, technically it’s a tour of the mining town and includes “snapshots” of the many pieces of mining equipment that were left abandoned at the closing of the mine.

Gold attracts those looking to make an easy buck and those tempted to help themselves to some “free samples.” Many of those who ran afoul of the law met their end at this tree. The hanging tree found the weight of eighteen criminals hanging from its branches at the end of a rope. The usual crime was “high grading”, the concealing or theft of gold or silver from the mine. The ironwood tree is two to three centuries old and is in very good health according to the mine tour’s website.

These days, the mine is newly back in operation. If you have a telephoto lens on your camera, you can capture a view of the more modern mining equipment working in an area that, as you can imagine, is fenced off from the mine tour visitors.

The gear in the photo above is only one of the many artifacts of the original mining equipment. Joyce spends a fair amount of time describing much of the gear and explains its use in an interesting and informative presentation. I submit for your review, a small gallery of images captured on our tour of Vulture City. On most browsers, you can click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.

John Steiner





  1. A purple fleece hoodie and pattern print pants are considered period dress? I must’ve missed that chapter… LOL, looks like an informative & fun day excursion!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.