By Jeff Insel
For over 20 years Fort Bowie and Apache Pass were central to US Army operations against the Chiricahua Apaches for control of the region. The bitter struggle, ending only with Geronimo’s surrender in 1886, helped determine how America’s southwestern frontier developed in the last half of the 1800’s. (excerpt from NPS guide).
We decided to make the visit to check out Ft Bowie while on a stay in Cochise County for a couple days. Cochise County seems a quiet one. While driving many of the local roads we hardly saw other vehicles. The drive to Ft Bowie starts with 8 miles of graded dirt road off Hwy 186. Once you’re at the parking area (restrooms included) it’s a mile and a half hike over the high chaparral, you’ll pass Oak, juniper and pinon pine as well as willow, walnut and cottonwood trees to the historic site. We passed sites with Stage Station ruins – where the old Butterfield Overland Mail route passed and Cemetary where 23 bodies remain interred.
You pass the site of the Battle of Apache Pass and Apache Spring before arriving at Ft Bowie. There’s a visitor center there with Rangers to assist and answer questions, restrooms and water available to refill your water bottles.
Along the hike we saw a garter snake crossing the trail, a Coues Deer and some wildflowers. It was very windy at times and the elevation reaches 5,000 ft.
Jeff Insel is a Photo Guide for Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.