Step back to a time of clashing cultures in the land of Geronimo. Fort Bowie is where the United States Military and Chiricahua Apaches battled before this corner of the southwest they called “the land of standing-up rocks” was tamed.

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The ruins of Fort Bowie National Historic Site tells the story – from both sides – of the bitter war that was waged between the resolute American Indians and westward-bound American soldiers.

It was inevitable. The rugged mountains that had sustained the Chiricahua Apaches under the legendary leadership of Geronimo became a battleground when the United States Army set up an outpost in 1862 near what is present-day Willcox. Lines were drawn between the native people and the pioneer interlopers. Soldiers constructed adobe barracks, corrals, a trading post, and a hospital, but it took much longer to dispatch the native residents. It was 30 years before Geronimo surrendered and the Chiricahuas were banished from their homeland to Florida and Alabama.

Start at the excellent visitor center for an orientation; then survey the remains of Butterfield Stagecoach Station, a cemetery with weathered wooden markers and gravestones, and an Apache wickiup (an American Indian hut).

But it’s not just history buffs that will be intrigued in this remote corner of the state. Chiricahua National Monument is one of Arizona’s “sky islands.” In this elevated ecosystem, the Sonoran Desert meets the Chihuahuan Desert and the southern Rockies join the Sierra Madres. A wildly diverse collection of plants and animals flourish here. Embark on the eight-mile scenic drive or hike the trails. Once you get a glimpse of the volcanic spires jutting into impossibly blue skies where turkey vultures circle, you’ll understand why a decades-long war was fought.

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Just The Facts

For Visitor information

Bowie Chamber of Commerce | PO Box 287 | Bowie, AZ | (520) 253-0903 |

County It all started How High? Head Count
Cochise 1862 3,763ft 449

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