Fort Bowie National Historic Site

Top choice in Southern Arizona

Somewhere between the abandoned stagecoach stop and the sun-bleached cemetery, it hits you: this hike is a little spooky. Why? Because the 1.5-mile trail to Fort Bowie (boo-ey) is the closest you'll come to time travel in the Southwest. The fort was established in 1862 in response to raids by the Chiricahua Apache, and the interpretive trail through this lonely place passes violent skirmish sites. The trailhead is at the parking lot on Apache Pass Rd.

As you walk, you can easily imagine Apache warriors watching your every move from hiding places on the rocky hills that flank the trail. To flip the picture, the trail returns to the parking lot along the ridge of one of those very hills, offering the Apache perspective of the activity below. In the 1880s and 1890s, that activity would have been pioneers and soldiers invading your turf.

The fort itself is mostly in ruins, but black-and-white photos beside various buildings illuminate the 19th-century scene. The location was strategic – close to the regionally important Apache Spring, which sits beside the trail. Inside the visitor center, check out the heliograph, a mirrored device placed on a nearby hilltop to send messages to other heliographs along a series of lofty military outposts.

To get here, follow Hwy 186 south from Willcox and I-10 for 22 miles to the turnoff. Here, an unpaved but graded road, with mileage signs, runs 8 miles east to the trailhead.

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