The legendary town celebrates its classic Western movie.


Stagecoach rides provide visitors with an informative and entertaining tour of historic Tombstone. Courtesy Cochise County Tourism


It’s high noon on a Friday in Tombstone. Tourists in shorts and sandals are walking along the shaded boardwalks of Allen Street window-shopping, eating ice cream and popping into stores selling old West souvenirs.

A family with young kids boards a stagecoach for a slow ride around town. A hawker in 1880s-era clothing is pitching a mock gunfight. Two reenactors of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral are peacocking down the street. 

The 1882 Crystal Palace saloon is full with a lunch crowd. It’s standing room only at the bar.

Just another summer day in Tombstone? Not exactly.


The O.K. Corral Museum, which is actually five museums in one, is one of the most popular attractions in Tombstone. Enjoy a tour of the Cowboy Bunkhouse, Original Corral Office, Prostitute’s Crib, C.S. Fly’s Photo Studio and Fly’s Boarding House. Exterior Images by Stuart Rosebrook/O.K. Corral Gunfight Site Courtesy Cochise County Tourism


On a hot June weekend, supporting-cast members and fans of the movie Tombstone were in town to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the hit Western movie. Its star cast included Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott and Charlton Heston. I was there for the celebration.

Other actors who attended included Michael Biehn, who played Johnny Ringo, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson as Mattie Earp and Robert Burke as Frank McLaury.

Tombstone and Wyatt Earp, starring Kevin Costner, are touchstone films that keep the flow of tourists coming to Tombstone to experience the history and myths of the Wild West.

“Much awareness has been brought to the city of Tombstone through several movies, TV shows and Western authors,” said Gordon Anderson, who organized the Tombstone celebration.

“I hate to use the words ‘cult classic’ but it’s certainly a ‘Western cult classic,’” Anderson said of Tombstone.


Visitors to Tombstone in 2023 should walk the historic district and look for sites and buildings that still exist or have been restored or rebuilt in the historic mining town. Images Courtesy the Getty Online Collection


Anderson runs the 13-room Larian Motel. His family has owned it since 1980. He’s seen Tombstone evolve even as it struggles to maintain its historic character and authenticity.

“I think it has changed for the better historically as they removed telephone lines and parking on Allen Street,” he said.

But Tombstone, with its National Historic District, had no part in filming the movie Tombstone. It was shot at Old Tucson Studios, Babocomari Ranch near Sonoita, the Mescal movie set northwest of Benson, Mount Lemmon, Sabino Canyon and other remote locations.

Mescal offers tours of its faux Western town but many of the buildings in Tombstone from 1993 are gone or have been repurposed, said Mark Sankey, Mescal’s marketing director, at a Friday symposium.


The Mescal movie set, where much of the 1993 movie Tombstone was filmed is undergoing a complete renovation and is already being used again for Western film and commercial production. Tours are available only on Saturdays and Sundays and tickets are limited.
Henry Parke


Hundreds of people turned out for that event at the 1881 Schieffelin Hall. It featured Peter Sherayko, who played Texas Jack Vermillion. His character took up with the Earps on their 1882 vendetta ride.

Sherayko also organized the Buck-aroos—movie extras who were appropriately attired in 1880s style with their hats, guns and saddles. Sherayko shunned the microphone and projected his gruff voice to the audience as if he was an old-time vaudeville player. He emphasized how vital it is to get the costuming details right.

“We gotta make good Westerns. We gotta make great Westerns,” he said, adding there hasn’t been a better Western in 30 years since Tombstone.

The film remains popular and plays in a continuous loop, with the sound off, at the Crystal Palace.


The Tombstone movie cast’s 30th anniversary reunion on June 24-25, 2023 was a big hit for all who attended. David De Haas


I was there for the evening symposium but managed to visit some of Tombstone’s historic haunts earlier. I paid $3 to tour Boothill Graveyard. Right there in Row Two are the tombstones of Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton, all gunned down at the O.K. Corral. Dutch Annie, known as Queen of Tombstone’s Red Light District, was buried on Boothill in 1883.

It cost $10 to tour Tombstone Court-house State Historic Park. A favorite exhibit is the illustrated panels showing the sequence of events in the O.K. Corral half-minute gunfight. It vividly captures the violence and mayhem of that moment of history that has entrenched Tombstone in the imagination of people from all over the world.


If you visit Tombstone’s Crystal Palace Saloon, established in 1879, take time to have a meal and allow your imagination to step back in time as you enjoy the historic atmosphere.


Next, I sat down on a bench outside Shady Lady’s Closet. I could feel cooler air spilling out of the shop on this 90-degree day. It was a good place to people-watch tourists and locals, some in period costumes.

Finally, I moseyed over to Toughnut Street to visit Tombstone Brewing Company. A guitar player was singing on the patio. A handful of locals sat at the bar. The craft beers were cold and good. It was another fine day in Tombstone, Arizona.


Schedule a tour of Tombstone’s Boothill Cemetery and pay your respects to the famous and not-so-famous, including Billy Clanton. Chad Coppess


Gordon Anderson’s Larian Motel is conveniently located next to Schieffelin Hall and Tombstone’s National Historic District. Photos by Stuart Rosebrook


Big Nose Kate’s Saloon and Restaurant is a favorite watering hole for Wyatt Earp and Tombstone fans.


Where History Meets the Highway


Plan your visit at the Tombstone Chamber of Commerce, 109 S. Fourth Street.


Tombstone Courthouse is a state historic park with exhibits on mining, ranching, lawmen and a famous gunfight. A replica gallows is a stark reminder of frontier justice.


Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park Tombstone, Arizona. Courtesy Cochise County Tourism


Stay in Town’s Historic District

The well-tended Larian Motel is in Tombstone’s Historic District, a short walk from the shops, restaurants and bars on Allen Street.

Notorious Boothill

Billy Clanton and Tom and Frank McLaury, gunned down by the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday, are buried at Tombstone’s Boothill Graveyard with 250 others from the 1880s.

Gunsmoke at the O.K. Corral

The Earp brothers—Virgil, Morgan and Wyatt—and Doc Holliday shoot it out with the Cowboys in a reenactment of the famous gunfight.

Mescal Movie Set

A short drive northwest of Tombstone, the Mescal movie set, made famous by the movie Tombstone has been restored and is back in use as a film location. Limited tickets are available for tours, which are offered Fridays and Saturdays.

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