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Touring Southern Arizona - Historic Cochise County Attractions
Cochise County is in the Southern part of Arizona. it is an area rich with history and steeped in culture. The nearest big city is Tucson, almost 80 miles away. Parts of Cochise County border Mexico and New Merxico. Whether you are visiting Arizona or already live here and just sightseeing, this is a great "daytrip" but I recommend stay a few days so that you will have time to experience all its jewels.
Where in Arizona is Cochise County?
Tombstone, "The town too tough to die." Come and see where Wyatt Earp and "Doc" Holliday became legend from the Gunfight at O.K. Corral. If you come in October, you can even participate in the annual 5 day Wyatt Earps Vendetta Ride, a trip on horseback following his posse's trail of retribution. But you don't need to take this tour to get a taste of the wild west. Along with many of its original buildings, Tombstone boasts museums, saloons, restuarants and re-enactments from the silver mining heyday.
Bisbee was originally a mining town. They are known for their high quality turquoise, called Bisbee Blue. The variety of their copper based minerals as well as gold, silver and other mineral specimens is so broad, you can find specimens in musems around the world. The mines were closed in 1975 but you can take a guided mine tour with Copper Queen Mine Tour. The link will provide you with all the details but this is an amazing tour offered 5 times a day, led by retired mine employees. They lead you down 1500 feet and can regal you with personal stories! It isd $13 per adult and $5.50 for children between 4 and 12. Children under 4 are free.
Kartchner Caverns State Park, Benson, Az
These caves are absolutely beautiful to walk through. You can discover how they were formed and witness 45,000 year old bat guano for yourself! There are two different hour and a half tours available but only onre allows kids under age 7. Both are a half an hour long and led by trained guides.You can book your reservations on line. Tickets are a bit pricey at $22.95 for adults, $12.95 for kids ages 7-13 and free for kids under 7. There is also a $6 parking fee. While you are in Benson, you may like to visit the Whetstone Mountains or French Joe Canyon. They are nestled between Benson and Sierra Vista.
One more view of the entire area!
Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Wilcox, Arizona
This is where the US Army took military actions against the Chiricahua Apaches for more than twenty years. It is rich with artifacts, written documentations and ruins. It is free to visit the park andf you can find all kinds of information along the trails and in the visitor's center. Plan on spending at least 2 hours in order to see everything. Also, part of the the Fort Bowie experience includes hiking in. This is a way to see and feel the lonely isolation that the soldiers that were stationed there experienced.
For a change of pace, you can tour one of the more than a dozen wineries in the Wilcox area!
The town of Douglas has more than one claim to fame. Texas John Slaughter was one of the most beloved, yet feared lawmen of the Southwest. You can tour his home, known as the Slaughter House, visit the museum, enjoy the wildlife and atmosphere, Wednesday's through Sundays, free of charge.
Douglas is also home to the Hotel Gadsden, originally built in 1907. There is a lot of history surrounding this hotel, including:
- Nearly every Arizona governor has stayed there, as has Eleanor Roosevelt.
- The hotel was destoyed by a fire in 1929, but rebuilt.
- There is a claim that Panco ran up the marble staircase (there's a chip that the owner's say proves it) but there is controversy on the timing!
- The hotel was a victim of neglect but was resurrected again in 1988 by its current owners.
- There is a resident ghost who floats through the hotel and sitings have been reported by the owners, hotel employees and guests.
- There have been several films made at the hotel and many famous actors have stayed there. In fact, Cameron Diaz has reported seeing the ghost!
You can stay at the Hotel Gadsden or you can stop and eat at their restaurant or visit their saloon!
Lodging in Cochise County, Arizona
In addition to the above mentioned Hotel Gadsden, there is plenty of lodging in the area ranging from rv and camping accomodations to bed and and breakfasts. There are the usual hotel and motel chains along the way, as well!
Check here for a complete listing of where to stay.
Where to eat in Cochise County
For most people, when visiting an area so rich in culture, they like to stay authentic and Cochise County doesn't disappoint! You can stop at any water hole or saloon and grab a burger or a beer in any of the given towns. You may even be treated to re-enactments and entertainment while you dine! You can visit The Crystal Palace Saloon in Tombstone, stop at Jimmy's Hot Dog Company in Bisbee (5 stars!) or The Dining Car in Wilcox. And if you don't want to eat somewhere new and different, there is always your standard fast food restaurants.
Come and See Southern Arizona!
I have not covered half of what there is to do in Cochise County. If you live here in Arizona or visit frequently, you can break it up into several fun day trips. But if you are only making one visit, please make sure that you have enough time to visit the museums, mines and ghost towns that make up this lovely, authentic area! Give yourself enough time to check out the gubfight at the OK Corral and enjoy a meal or stay at the Hotel Gadsden. And, if you are inclined, take a hike!