Fort Bowie was established in the mid-1800s to protect Apache Pass. Apache Pass was used by the Butterfield Overland Mail Route and became an important spot to protect due to its year-round water supply, Apache Spring. For over 30 years, it was a sight of major military operations until Geronimo surrendered in 1886 and the Chiricahua Indians were removed to Florida and Alabama.
Here we are just starting our hike and we can look out towards the pass , which is where the very first V shows on the left. It was a trek of one and a half miles out and one and a half miles back, at elevations ranging from 4,550 to 5,250 feet. We began about three in the afternoon, it was upper 80s in temperature, and it didn’t take long before we were wondering if we had bit off more than we could chew, or hike, as the case may be!
The path was totally dirt and mostly smooth, although at times there was some incline and you had to really watch your step.
Here we are almost getting to the area where the Butterfield Overland Mail route went through. There was a way-station with an inn (of sorts) where the travelers could stop for the night, which now are just foundation ruins.
The fort ruins are way in the distance, just small glimmers of white. We still have a long ways to hike!
Here is one of the many varieties of cactus in the area. We are beginning to gain elevation and are very near the spring, as you can tell from the denser and greener foliage. In Arizona, you know there is water when you see large trees. Everywhere else, trees appear to be more scrub brush than what us Easterners think of as trees.
Apache Spring, the year-round water source that was the cause of so much strife in the mid- to late-1800s.
Some of the local Sonoran Desert vegetation.
And here is our goal, the ruins of Fort Bowie! After the cool shade of the springs area, this last section of the hike up was a difficult one. Thankfully there was a Visitor’s Center at the top with air conditioning, and that is where we headed and rested before venturing back out to look at the ruins. Although truthfully, by the time we got there, we had really ceased to care very much about the ruins. We were more than a little fatigued, and beginning to worry about the late hour and whether we would make it back down to the car before dark!