Tag: Fort Bowie

Fort Bowie Hike – Part Two

Here we have made it to the top and are looking back down the way we came. Go down, through the V, turn right and hike another mile!

Fort Bowie ruins as you come up on them from the trail. Here they actually look a lot more impressive than they do once you actually get to the very top.

The ruins viewed from just below the Visitor’s Center, looking more to the east.

And the same ruins, only looking more to the west (notice the flag pole in both pictures, which was about in the center of the fort area. It really was a very large complex, with buildings encompassing the whole flatter area, including officers quarters, soldiers quarters, the commander’s house, a school, a hospital, a general store, stables, etc., everything one would need to survive so far from civilization.

Here is the view at the Visitor’s center, looking down into the valley to the east. We hiked up from a point somewhat to the west of the hill on the left, but we did not begin anywhere near the low elevation of the valley, thank goodness!

Trekking back down, I took pictures of the examples of Indian housing that are displayed along the trail. This would have been their winter home; you can see the tarp on the side, showing how the Chiricahua would have covered the grass sides of the hut with animal skins.

And here a ramada, which is where the Indians would have spent the summer. This would be much cooler than the winter hut, although I am not sure how dry it would be during the summer monsoons!

We arrived back to the parking lot, alive! Actually the trip back was much easier, as it was mostly going down in elevation. And we did make it back before sunset, although only by about twenty minutes!

And one last picture, looking back to where we had just hiked. You can see that the valley is mostly in shadows now. As we were walking the last segment, you could definitely notice the coolness of the air when you hit the shady areas. This desert air cools down so quickly when the sun goes down!

All in all it was a very nice walk, but boy were we sore for the next couple of days. I definitely felt like I got just a tad bit more sun than I am used to. But we did enjoy ourselves and are trying to find some similar length hikes that we feel comfortable trying. With the drug trafficking “mule trains” along the border, we feel more comfortable finding places to hike that are many miles north of the border, which rules out a lot of local spots.

Fort Bowie Hike

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!

The Drive to Fort Bowie

While it is only a few miles (by Arizona standards) from Faraway Ranch in the Chiricahua National Monument to Fort Bowie National Historic Site, it is arguably some of the prettiest landscape you will see in southeastern Arizona.

Looking southeast, In the distance are the Chiricahua Mountains and the Chiricahua National Monument and in the foreground cattle grazing lands as far as the eye can see.

A “zoomed-in” view of the grasslands with the Chiricahuas in the background.

Looking northeast towards the Dos Cabezas mountains and more grasslands. Where the Dos Cabazas and the Chiricahuas meet is the pass where Fort Bowie was built.

And here are some of the cattle using all that grazing land. We had earlier passed a road sign that said, “Loose Cattle” and we were quite puzzled over it and equally amused by the wording. Did they mean that the cattle were roaming wherever they wanted? Or were they “loose cattle” in the same context as “loose women”? Just a short bit down the road, though, we discovered these critters and, if you look closely, you will see that they are indeed loose, being on the road side of the fence rather than the pasture side of the fence!

As we drove on down the road, we soon saw why the cattle were “loose.” The monsoon waters had recently washed away the soil from around one of the fence posts (it was still muddy) and the fence post had tipped over, pulling the fence wire down and allowing the cows to just step over the wires and enjoy the greener grass on the other side. Obviously this occurs frequently enough to warrant an official road sign!