The first thing you notice is the quiet.
Cochise County is a peaceful place, a sun-kissed terrain of lush valleys interrupted by soaring mountains beneath a sprawling azure sky. The silence stretches like shadows across the land. It’s a dramatic change from the distant days when violence erupted along the frontier. The entire Wild West didn’t occur in Cochise County. It just seems that way because of the legendary cast of characters who strode across the terrain for so many years.
People once came to Cochise County chasing their fortunes in the mines, in the boomtowns and on the range. Today visitors don’t pursue riches. Instead they come to enjoy peace and quiet. They come for the unhurried pace and spectacular scenery. There’s adventure here, but it’s also a soothing place, a sacred place. Visitors find wellness and rejuvenation here. Come for all of it.
Cochise County Wine Country
Start by touring wine country. With fine wine, everything slows down. You taste, you smell, you allow all your senses to engage. Stress melts away. These are the kind of memories that linger.
Cochise County is the center of Arizona’s burgeoning wine industry. The Willcox region produces 74% of the state’s wine grapes. Vineyards dot the valleys and spread across sloping foothills. Tasting rooms are open in downtown Willcox and Tombstone, and others at the wineries where visitors can relax while overlooking rows of vines framed by rising mountains.
In 2016, Willcox was granted AVA (American Viticultural Area) status. The designation means that the area is recognized as a unique and distinctive wine-growing area. Spend a weekend savoring the bounty of this special landscape. And if you’d prefer to let someone else do the driving, several companies offer tours of local wineries.
Treat yourself to the kind of special lodging you always dream about for a vacation. Where you choose to lay your head helps determine the kind of getaway you’ll have. If you’re looking for historic hotels with graceful lines, elegant bone structures and perhaps a ghost or two, you’ll find lovely examples in Bisbee and Douglas. If you have your heart set on the classic motor courts you remember from your childhood, but beautifully renovated, you’ll want to hurry to Tombstone and Benson. If a charming and romantic bed & breakfast is more to your liking, you’ll discover these gems in every corner of the county.
Nature at Its Best
When was the last time you were serenaded by a tumbling stream? Treat yourself to a picnic in beautiful Ramsey Canyon, a picturesque gash carved from the Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista. Follow the splashy little stream beneath the canopy of cottonwood and sycamore trees where hummingbirds flit among the branches like winged jewels. Listen to the music of cascading water for an afternoon and just breathe deep the clear, cool air.
You’ll never run out of hiking options in Cochise County with hundreds of miles of trails crisscrossing the intoxicating terrain. Treat yourself to a walk through devastating beauty every day. Ramble into the sky island mountains – the Chiricahuas, Dragoons, Huachucas and Whetstones – where you’ll discover forests, wildlife and endless views. Hike at Muleshoe Ranch, where seven streams create a hidden oasis far down a dirt road. Or take a stroll along the San Pedro River, one of the largest flyways for migratory birds in the world.
More than anything else, take advantage of the diversity of Cochise County and treat yourself to a new experience. Take an underground mine tour. Watch a gunfight. Visit the crumbling ruins of a ghost town. Explore a living, breathing cave. Hike to a historic fort. See the world’s largest rosebush in full glorious bloom. Visit a movie set. Hunt for spirits of the past along darkened streets. Walk where legends once walked.
The southeastern corner of Arizona exists at a remarkable intersection of scenery and history. Picturesque towns are wrapped in wide-open spaces. The quiet stretches in every direction. Treat yourself to the best of all worlds with an unforgettable vacation to Cochise County.
(Brought to you by the Cochise County Tourism Council and contributor Roger Naylor, (520) 432-9215, www.ExploreCochise.com.)