Friday, March 22, 2013

Fort Bowie: An Excellent Combination of History and Nature

Fort Bowie National Historic Site is unlike any other "site" we've ever seen. From Hwy 186 out of Willcox, you drive eight miles out a dirt road to access the trail head, then hike 1.5 miles to the site. It's a neat combination of being immersed in the environment, seeing foundations of buildings from the past, reading details and first-hand accounts of the events, and seeing photographs from the period.

Apache Spring was the source of much conflict during the mid-late 1800's, being a vital source of water through mountainous terrain. Chiricahua Apache defended their land against intrusion by the Butterfield Overland Mail stage route. As those conflicts escalated the US Army settled in to maintain peace and eventually to overcome the Apache.

The trail heads out across low rolling hills towards the ruins of the Fort in the far valley.

Early on we had some excitement when we saw a pack of about eight javelinas
running up a wash just a few feet away from us! 

The source of everything that happened in this area over many, many years: Apache Spring

Site of the first Ft Bowie; looking back towards the grass and mesquite valley we'd just come across.
Originally built in 1862.

Site of the second hospital.
You can barely see the visitor center just left of center.

Water storage site.
Dos Cabezas range in the background.

The return trail took us up on the hill behind the excellent visitor center/museum left, front.
Beyond is the second Fort site originally built in 1868, it closed in 1894.

We saw hundreds of prickly pear cactus today  but this was the only one with buds!

Approaching the grasslands we crossed early on the trail.

One last pretty wash as we got close to the truck.

This combination of history and hiking through interesting territory really appealed to us. And, we were fortunate to have an overcast day for the hike. You can also park a few miles back up the road from the Ft Bowie trail head and take the Butterfield Stage route for a mile or so to hook up to the Ft Bowie trail. It looked like there could be some good hiking/scrambling up a wash to the interesting looking granite peak called Helen's Dome. Good reasons to return some day for another hike!


  1. OK - this makes us want to go back to AZ. It feels like we missed so much there...well, that's it...we're going back next year!

    1. It really was worth the stop! Plus, we heard about a boondocking site at Indian Bread Rocks on the East side of Dos Cabezas. This site would be a neat camping spot and close to the Fort. The folks who told us about camped there in a 5th wheel about the same size as ours.

  2. Yes, this is the perfect hike for a history buff like John. I am thinking when we head west next spring we should do this southern swing all you bloggers are doing.

    You and the javelinas really do meet up. Us, we do mule deer...haha!

    I found one prickly pear with buds the other day when we did the Grapevine Trail. I am going back next week to see if it bloomed. We didn't blog on that trail.

    1. We're thinking we need to do another Southern AZ route that includes Organ Pipe, Ajo, and White Water Draw...

    2. Sounds like a plan!! They are on our list, too!