The Thing? What is it? Mystery of the Desert! So say the endless bright blue and yellow billboards lining the I-10 southeast of Tucson. Exit 322, they each exclaim.
By the time exit 322 appears, the one dollar admission is worthwhile even if The Thing is simply some weird dude’s belly button lint encased in an old shoe box (spoiler alert: it’s not). One last blue and yellow beacon appears, this time affixed to a gas station and convenience store. At the back of the store, through a faux-rock exit, lies the answer.
Oversized yellow footprints lead guests on a winding path through a series of metal buildings in the back of the property. Each building overflows with curious items accompanied by grand claims – from a cheesy medieval torture display to a dusty Rolls Royce supposedly used by Adolf Hitler. The seemingly random collection of dusty and worn relics is unified only by the questionable nature of each item’s supposed origin and relevance. The Thing itself is no exception.
A reoccurring theme throughout the buildings is the hoard of twisted, knobby creatures carved from driftwood. They perch on display cases and dangle from the ceiling, some with friendly, goofy eyes staring up at visitors and others with slender, pointy fingers that seem to be reaching out for anything that may cross their path.
The short walkways between the structures offer glimpses of an oddball community of occupied mobile homes huddled in the middle of all this weirdness. The idea of calling this roadside attraction home is almost as strange as the attraction itself.
In the final building, after proper anticipation has been allowed to build, lies The Thing. It was purchased in 1956 for a mere $50 from a traveling sideshow artist and curator. So what is The Thing? Well, it’s a dollar and a short drive away…
Location: 2631 N Johnson Rd, Dragoon, AZ (You literally can’t miss it…the billboards won’t allow it.)
Hours: 6:30 am to sunset
Cost: $1 for adults; $0.75 for children up to 18; Free for children under 6