Tombstone Monument Guest Ranch & Tombstone’s Bird Cage Theatre (Saguaro SKP RV Park – Benson, AZ)

On Thursday, we decided to check out a guest ranch near Tombstone that we had heard about a while back when we were in Europe.  Here’s the story; In August/September of 2013, Stilla and I took a three-week trip back to Germany to visit her side of the family and our son William.  While there in Germany, (in the Nurnberg area), Stilla’s brother Ludwig lent me a motorcycle from his Harley-Davidson (now Indian) dealership (Click HERE and HERE for links to his website(s)).  We rode down through the Alps to the European Bike Week 2013, in Faaker See, Austria.  While at the motorcycle rally, one of the vendor booths was for the Apache Spirit Ranch in Tombstone, Arizona. (see pics below)

Apache Spirit Ranch booth at Faaker See Bike Week, Austria 2013. Barni Walter is on the right side, in the back, talking to one of the owners.
Apache Spirit Ranch booth at Faaker See Bike Week, Austria 2013. Barni Walter is on the right side, talking to one of the owners (guy in the hat).

It so happened that one of the owners’ of the ranch was an acquaintance of Stilla’s long-time childhood friend and neighbor; Barni Walter.  Barni also rode down to the rally with us.  (Click HERE for another shameless plug and link to Barni’s tire shop).  Anyway, that’s how we got to know the folks at the Spirit Ranch booth and promised that we’d try to stop by if we were ever in the area.

Well – we were in the area now… so we plugged the address into the GPS; put little dog “Coach” in the pickup; and off we went…

Although the GPS directions were good, the signs we noticed along the way were confusing… we kept seeing signs for the Tombstone Monument Guest Ranch, but no signs for the Apache Spirit.  This was especially confusing because I had checked the Apache Spirit Ranch website before we left; it was still up and running and appeared to be current.  It soon became apparent that the ranch must have changed ownership and therefore names.

After driving 22 miles, we were in Tombstone once again.  From downtown, we drove west on Schiefflein Rd. which is a dirt road that goes past the Tombstone Cemetery… not to be confused with the Boot Hill Cemetery.

After a few miles, the GPS announced that we had reached our destination.  However, instead of seeing the Apache Spirit Ranch we saw this sign:


We drove on into the ranch.


We noticed a bus with the Apache Spirit Ranch logo parked at the ranch.



We parked and walked through the “town” to find the office.  The towns’ buildings appeared to be cleverly disguised motel rooms.




There’s even have a nice pool here.



We walked into the office and talked to a lady behind the reception desk.  We told her where we had heard about this place and asked if it was under new ownership or just changed names.  She  confirmed that it was now under new management.  She didn’t appear to be very willing to share any details, but did say she knew the previous owner(s)… especially the guy in Germany.  She seemed hesitant, so we didn’t press her for more information.


She did share a rate list and a brochure/flyer with us.  If you’re interested, their flyer touts; 18 rooms “designed to a specific western theme, furnished with authentic decor and the echo of bygone days”; the “all-inclusive guest ranch experience includes three meals per day, soft drinks, guest room accommodation, guided trail rides, wireless internet, jacuzzi and pool, and evening entertainment.”

This place seems really nice if you can afford it… the rates vary between; in-season, mid-season, and summer; and also between standard, deluxe, junior suite, or premium suite.  Just to give you an idea about pricing, and for brevity; the in-season rate for a standard room (single occupancy) is $250 per day.  A premium suite would be $330.  Their website is


The receptionist told us we were free to look around and if we wanted drinks, she would open the bar.  We thanked her and declined the bar offer.  I asked if we could take a few pictures…  she said it would be fine…

Stilla posed at the bar for a picture.


The saloon was decorated nicely and even had a fancy poker table… maybe that’s where the previous owner lost the ranch in a poker game….  Just sayin’ 🙂   A small dining area was in the adjoining room.



Remaining adobe wall from the original homestead.


This appeared to be a bunkhouse of sorts that has been converted to apartments/rooms with individual doors.


Although, we had hoped to meet up again with the folks we became acquainted with at the vendor booth in Austria 2013, it was still a neat place to visit and experience.

We said our thanks for the mini-tour and drove back out the gate.

Just outside the gate, and a little further west up the hill, we could see the gravesite of Edward Schieffelin, the founder of Tombstone.  This is also known as the Tombstone Monument or Memorial.  Read more about Schieffelin HERE, courtesy of wikipedia.




Read the placard below to learn how Tombstone got it’s name.


We headed on back to town.  This time we stopped at the edge of town to take a couple pictures of the Tombstone Cemetery that we had passed by earlier :



There was an old trolley, covered wagon, prison wagon and stagecoach parked in a lot across from the cemetery.


Once back in Tombstone we decided to walk around a little more and spend some time visiting a few of the shops again.

We also made an impulse decision to go through the Bird Cage Theatre.  We passed on this tour yesterday when we were here with the “dirt farm” gang.  We went ahead and paid the $18 entrance fee for the self-guided tour.  Click HERE to learn more about the “Wildest and Wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast”.


There was a different tour-guide behind the bar this time.  An elderly gentleman took the time to point out details within the lobby area that leads to the museum.  For instance, this bullet hole above Fatima’s belly button in the picture below.


The main room to the theatre was filled with period artifacts.  Even the upper balcony boxes aka “prostitute cribs” that lined each wall had mannequins on display… or maybe those are ghosts!?!





Here’s a view of the stage…


And here’s a couple views taken from the stage:



And now we’re back-stage:




The placard claims that this hearse transported all but 6 of the Boot Hill Cemetery residents.


Steps to the infamous basement where a poker game once went on continuously for over 8 years.  Click HERE for more on this from wikipedia.





Did I mention that this place is supposed to be haunted?





We made it through our tour of the Bird Cage Theatre without seeing any paranormal activity.  But we did work up an appetite, so we chose the Cafe Margarita for it’s doggie-friendly enclosed courtyard seating… and the food was good too.




It was now past 2 PM.  We had agreed earlier in the week to a 3 PM tour of the SKP park, so I called our host to say we might be a little late for our tour.  Our extremely nice tour-guide / host was named Cosmo.  He was waiting for us at our site in a golf cart to show us around the park.  The tour is of course, voluntary, and is provided for any Escapees RV Club members that might be interested in joining the Co-Op.

The subject of Escapees Co-Op Parks has been well documented by others more eloquent than I… for instance; Howard Payne @ did  a great write-up HERE; and Mike Kuper @ posted HERE.  Click on the links to learn more about Escapees if interested.

Cosmo, gave us a full tour of this fine park and it’s facilities.  He even showed us the “Casita” he had built on his site, nice!  We finished up just in time to meet up with the regulars at the club house for “Happy Hour”.

Here’s a before (circa 1990) & after photo of the Saguaro SKP RV Resort.


Our nice, roomy site for the week.


Cool balanced rock art… there’s a couple of these throughout the park.  I’d like to see how they do this… these rocks don’t have any wires or metal rods holding them together; gravity keeps them in place.


Another great day in the Urban Escape Vehicle adventure!

And here’s some bonus pics of our visit to Germany in 2013 that I found while searching for the Apache Spirit Ranch photos that I posted at the beginning of today’s blog:

This is the bike that Ludwig let me use during our 2013 visit to Germany. Stilla’s brother Stefan is in the background. We put quite a few good miles (kilometers) on the bikes while we were there 🙂

Here I am in front of Stilla’s brother Ludwig’s vendor booth during the European Bike Week in Austria.  I spent a lot of time there helping out, which is something I used to do a lot of when I was stationed in Germany.  Help out, that is… at his Harley dealership…


IMG_2302 booth at Faaker See Austria 2013. L to R; myself and Stilla’s brothers; Stefan and Ludwig.

And a Happy (belated) Birthday to Stilla’s brother Ludwig back in Schnitzeland, aka Germany!  His birthday was today (Thursday).  Prost!

Ludwig Dotzer @ and

Stay tuned for more adventure… I know I’m behind on the blog again, but we’re having too much fun exploring.  Tomorrow (Friday) we visit Bisbee, the Coronado Monument, and Fort Huachuca.  And Saturday, maybe Kartchner Caverns… 🙂

One thought on “Tombstone Monument Guest Ranch & Tombstone’s Bird Cage Theatre (Saguaro SKP RV Park – Benson, AZ)”

  1. Yep, you Germans are following in the footsteps of Unckle, who visited Tombstone and that very cemetery circa 1960. Wow, that’s 55 years ago.
    Coach looks weary.

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