Fort Bowie National Historic Site

In the late 19th century, this southern Arizona fort hosted weary travelers thru Apache Pass and the site of numerous skirmishes between the U.S. military and native Chiricahua Apache. Nowadays, it's home to preservation efforts to understand the lives of the area's past residents and the Fort's role in America's Old West history.

History & Nature

Located in an area known as Apache Pass in southeastern Arizona, near a natural spring, Fort Bowie served as an attractive stop for those traveling through the Dos Cabezas and Chiricahua mountain ranges in the late 1800s. It was also the center of U.S. military actions against the Chiricahua Apaches. Fighting was frequent, and often tragic.

Though little remains of the Fort's turbulent past, visitors can still see remnants of the Butterfield Stage Route, the cemetery, and the battle sites, as well as natural resources, including Apache Spring. Since establishing it as a historic site in 1964, the National Park Service has expanded its preservation efforts to include further exploration into the stories of the Fort's military, nearby settlers, and the Chiricahua Apache.

One important feature of the site is Apache Spring, one of the primary reasons both the Chiricahua Apache and military settled in this area of the mountains. Not only was it a critical resource for those living here, but the spring also supported much of the vegetation and surrounding wildlife.

Things To Do

Fort Bowie National Historic Site is a hike-in park, which asks visitors to take a short 1.5-mile (about 2.4 km) hike to enter. Doing so helps protect and preserve the area's natural and historical resources from further development.

The story of Fort Bowie can be experienced via a three-mile round-trip, easy-to-moderate hike on Apache Pass Road. The trail winds through sites of the forts and other ruins, such as the cemetery and Butterfield Stage Route. Though the terrain can be uneven in places, it's considered good for people of all ages, making this a great place for families to visit. For those unable to make the hike into the park, there is an access road that ends close to the Visitor Center with an ADA-accessible parking lot.

At the visitor center, you'll find a museum of exhibits that illustrates the life of the military settlers and their experiences.

Return via the same path or head back on the Overidge Trail for a great vantage point of the forts and surrounding landscapes.

Hotels, Lodging & Camping

Fort Bowie National Historic Site can be done as a day trip from Tucson (about two hours east of the site) or Willcox (40 minutes east). Either city offers a multitude of lodging options from luxury resorts to budget hotels, RV parks, and vacation rentals.

Looking to rough it? There is no on-site campground at Fort Bowie; however, you can camp nearby in Chiricahua National Monument at the Bonita Campground. Reservations are required and must be made prior to visiting, but campsites at the Bonita Campground can be booked online.

Find dispersed campsites in Coronado National Forest or camp on Bureau of Land Management recreation sites, as well.

Hours & Pricing

The historic site and trails are open every day from sunrise to sunset. Peak season is January - April.

Visitor Center open daily from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day
* Please verify hours on the website.

Entrance Fees: Free

For More Information

3500 South Apache Pass Road
Bowie, AZ 85605
(520) 847-2500, ext. 25

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