Planning a short road-trip in the southeastern corner of Arizona this fall. Driving from Tucson to Bisbee and then over to Nogales. Any ideas on sites to see that are off the beaten path? Restaurants and stores that I might not find in guidebooks?
Historical sites and Nuevo Espana
My interests are predominantly historical, and the area you will be traveling through is full of a variety of old west history, so, if you're interested...
The Apache Wars were centered there.
In the area you can see Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains. In 1870, this mountain redoubt was an armed fortress surrounded by rocks into which no American could intrude with any confidence of getting out alive -- the home of Cochise and his band of Chokonen (the Sunrise people) whom we commonly call Chiracahuas. When Cochise died, he was buried in the rocks in the area and no one who was present ever told where the place was -- he's still there somewhere.
Later on, Geronimo's band was made up of many of these people, along with other "renegades" from the Bedonkohe, Nedni and Warm Springs (or Red Paint) peoples. Geronimo used the land between San Carlos and the Sierra Madre of Mexico as room to raid and run -- and often used the border as a kind of shield until the government made a deal with Mexico to allow crossing by troops if they were in hot pursuit of Apaches. After that, it was a matter of time before the Indians were run into the ground -- Geronimo surrendered to General Miles in 1886 at a place called Skeleton Canyon, in far SE Arizona, and was promptly shipped to Florida, never allowed to return to the SW. You can reach the spot where he surrendered by driving NE out of Douglas on Highway 80 and turning right onto a dirt road -- it is called Skeleton Canyon Rd. A rock cairn marks the spot. His struggle was the last of the Indian Wars in the United States.
North from that place, be sure to stop at Apache Pass and Fort Bowie. Apache Pass played a role in Arizona history from prehistoric times until it was bypassed by the railroad in the 1880s -- because there is a perennial spring there. A famous battle took place there -- the only "pitched" battle ever fought between Apaches and the US Army. The Army then built the fort nearby to protect the spring. You can hike past the ruins of the late 1850s era Butterfield stage coach station -- the first transcontinental stage coach route. You can see the ruins of Tom Jefford's Indian agency, which served the Chokonen until they were consolidated with the San Carlos Indians a few years later, after Cochise's death. The Ft Bowie ruins can be reached with a short hike -- if you are going when the weather is good remember that it is also good for the snakes -- watch where you step! The trail to the old fort runs right past the attractions I mentioned, plus it runs right through the battleground (set in a little valley with high ground on both sides). There is a ranger station and a visitor center at the fort. It's not a long hike, but I recommend you carry a bottle of water and a few snacks as there is not much available at the fort itself. As you return to your car, take the high trail up across the hill -- you get an Apache-eye view of the battleground from the top of the hill, and a great view of the entire area as well.
The SE Arizona area was among the first lands settled by the Spanish, mostly in the 1600s. You can see their influence in the mission buildings at Tumacacori and San Xavier del Bac, and at Tubac which was a presidio (a fort) for O'Conor's flying cavalry -- an early Spanish idea to post horsemen at various places (presidios) where they could be handy to respond if the Apaches attacked. Yes, O'Conor was an Irishman, but he served the Spanish. Anyway, the trouble was, the Apaches always seemed to attack just beyond the reach of the soldiers, no matter where they were. Some of the most beautiful land in Arizona is along Highway 82 between it's end at Highway 90 north of Sierra Vista, and Sonoita and Patagonia. This area was the setting for the movie Oklahoma and much of it was granted to early settlers by the Spanish king. It is absolutely gorgeous ranch country, especially in Spring and Fall. In the mountains on the south side of the valley, there are some interesting ghost towns -- Harshaw comes to mind although I have never been there.
Along I-10, at Texas Canyon, you can find the Amerind Foundation, a cultural center and museum celebrating the Indian.
There is fishing at Patagonia Lake, or Parker Canyon Reservoir. Also, there is Coronado National Monument to the SW of Sierra Vista, where Don Francisco Vasquez de Coronado first crossed into what is now Arizona, in 1540.
Among the area's other attractions include the town of Bisbee and its mining history (mine tour!), Tombstone (be sure to visit C.S. Fly's photography studio), Kartchner Caverns State Park, Tubac (you can see the original printing press used to publish the Tombstone Epitaph, the first newspaper in southern AZ, if not the state). Did you know Tombstone was once the largest "city" between St Louis and San Francisco?
In Bisbee, I have been told the Copper Queen Hotel is overrated but have never experienced it first-hand -- I recommend The Inn at Castle Rock which used to be a fun place to stay -- I haven't been there for awhile but it was quaint and friendly when I stayed there a few years back -- owned at that time by an expatriate Britisher and his wife.
Finally, the Chiricahua National Monument is not to be missed -- it is a wonderland of rocks, full of hiking trails and other adventures. There are some wineries in the valley west of the Monument where you can taste the wares, and if you get as far north as Willcox, check out the apple harvest u-pick orchards and try a piece of great apple pie.
If any of these places interest you, you can easily find most of them on a good map. If you have trouble or need more information, let me know and I'll try to assist. Bob
A section of the USA I really like
Back in the 1970's I was a fire lookout on top of Silver Peak, which is in the Cave Creek drainage of the Chiricahua Mountains. At that time there was a really good Mexican restaurant in Douglas, but my memory can't recall the name.
As far as routes, as you leave the Chiricahua National Monument area, take the Forest Road past Rustlers Park over the pass and down to Portal. One of the greatest roads in the southwest. "My" mountain will be visible on the left side of the road as you enter the Cave Creek Canyon. There are examples of flora and fuana that exist only in this area in the USA. Plus a bunch of rattlesnakes -- so keep your wits about you.
I have an interest in vintage campers and trailers. There is a campground of restored vintage campers in Bisbee. I have read that the campers are for rent. We are going to be there in Feb. 04 this is one of the places on our list to see. good luck on your trip. Geo. & Gert
Vintage Trailers and Hot Springs
If staying over-night in vintage airstreams and soaking in hot water under star-light is of interest -- be sure to consider the Oregon Outback and in particular,<a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/hot.htm">the Summer Lake Hot Springs</a>.
a million thanks...
...for such a thoughtful response. I have printed it out and will take it with me on my trip!
> Back in the 1970's I was a fire lookout on top of <BR>
> Silver Peak, which is in the Cave Creek drainage <BR>
> of the Chiricahua Mountains. At that time there <BR>
> was a really good Mexican restaurant in Douglas, <BR>
> but my memory can't recall the name.<BR>
> As far as <BR>
> routes, as you leave the Chiricahua National <BR>
> Monument area, take the Forest Road past Rustlers <BR>
> Park over the pass and down to Portal. One of <BR>
> the greatest roads in the southwest. "My" <BR>
> mountain will be visible on the left side of the <BR>
> road as you enter the Cave Creek Canyon. There <BR>
> are examples of flora and fuana that exist only <BR>
> in this area in the USA. Plus a bunch of <BR>
> rattlesnakes -- so keep your wits about you. <BR>
I'll keep an eye out for the mexican restaurant, and thanks for the info on the Chiricahua area...
The Shady Dell (Bisbee, AZ)
I actually already found that place through a friend -- we are staying there for one night along the route. Here's the URL in case you don't have it: www.theshadydell.com. Thanks!