Attractions

Sierra Vista is located 75 miles southeast of Tucson, a destination worthy of discovery. You will travel into our exciting past when you visit one of our many museums or drive the trail where the Spanish Conquistadors rode up from Mexico.

Sierra Vista Attractions

Fort Huachuca

Established in 1877, Fort Huachuca significantly shaped both local and national history. Today it proudly serves as Arizona's last active Army post. Read more....

Environmental Operations Park

Also known as the Sierra Vista Wastewater Wetlands, these unique wetlands feature a native grass restoration project. The 50 acres of wetlands support aquatic vegetation and grasses once native to the region. Over 2,000 acre-feet of water treated through this natural system is returned to the aquifer each year to help protect the area's unique environment. Check it all out from the 1,800 square-foot wildlife viewing platform. For information on guided bird walks, which are conducted on Sundays, check out our Calendar of Events .

Kartchner Caverns State Park

You'll find stunning living caverns of mystery and awe and see exhibits of scientific information on why these internationally acclaimed caverns exist. You'll learn about the bats that make their home here, and how the many huge stalactites and stalagmites are formed. And you will see why Kartchner Caverns State Park is truly an underground phenomenon unlike any other.

San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area

With nearly 40 miles of riparian vegetation, you will find this national conservation area teeming with plant and animal life. There are 10 different access locations across the 56,000 acre preserve which will allow you to explore the last free-flowing river in the Southwest. Start your exploration from the San Pedro House, operated by the Friends of the San Pedro River , where docents will provide you with information on trails, habitat, petroglyphs, and ghost towns.

During the spring and fall migration seasons, you won't want to miss hummingbird banding, conducted by the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory .

Coronado National Forest

The numerous mountain ranges in the Coronado National Forest provide opportunities for hiking, riding, camping, wildlife observation and countless other activities. Bordering Sierra Vista on the west are the beautiful Huachuca Mountains. Rising nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, and containing the Miller Peak Wilderness Area, they are a haven for bird and wildlife. More than 170 species, including 14 species of hummingbirds, have been observed; more than 60 species of reptiles and 78 species of mammals also are found in this range. The area is also rich with a colorful mining and ranching history.

Ramsey Canyon Preserve

You won't want to miss this world-famous attraction. The canyon's unique interplay of geology, biology, topography, and climate makes it a highly sought-after refuge for more than 170 species of birds, including 14 species of hummingbirds. Nature walks lead by trained docents are offered on a regular basis.

Coronado National Memorial

In the mid 16th century, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and his soldiers marched from Mexico into the San Pedro River Vally searching for the Seven Cities of Gold. Coronado never found gold, but you can learn about his travels by visiting this Memorial. Along with an excellent visitors' center, the Memorial is the site of the start of the Arizona Trail , which traverses the length of the state, ending at the Utah Border. You might also want to explore Coronado Cave as well as the many trails in the Memorial.

Our Lady of the Sierras Shrine This site, with virtually unlimited panoramic views of the San Pedro River Valley, is home to a shrine inspired by a religious pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Yugoslavia. The 75-foot Celtic cross, 31-foot statue of the Virgin Mary and a chapel all provide a peaceful sanctuary that visitors of all faiths can enjoy. Little Family Farm Enjoy garden fresh produce, a children's petting zoo, hay rides, and special events.

Ancient Native American Sites

The Amerind Foundation

If you're interested in Native American history, culture, and art, The Amerind should be your first stop. Located near Cochise Stronghold - the hundreds of acres where the Chiricahua Apache leader hid out - nestled in Texas Canyon of the Little Dragoon Mountains is the Amerind Foundation. William Shirley Fulton established this unique museum and art gallery in 1937 as a private, nonprofit anthropological and archaeological research center for Native American cultures. Today it houses artifacts from Native American cultures from South American to Alaska. Plan to bring a picnic lunch and dine among the rock formations of Texas Canyon. Cochise Stronghold and Council Rocks

Cochise and the Chiricahua Apaches used this natural granite fortress as a haven from the U.S. cavalry. Today the lush, wooded area offers picnicking, camping and hiking trails.

Little known but worth a visit, Council Rocks features prehistoric rock art containing geometric and human figures. Limited parking is available.

Chiricahua National Monument

Traditional territory of the Chiricahua Apaches, this area is monumental in every sense, with astounding rock formations, a natural bridge, and a ledge made entirely of volcanic hailstones. Seventeen miles of day use hiking trails, camping areas, and the Faraway Ranch Historic District will make the Chiricahuas one of your favorite locations.

Garden Canyon, Fort Huachuca

Inhabited since 600 A.D., the canyon has 53 pictographs, or rock art, from some of its earliest residents, as well as Apache pictographs from the 1700's. The canyon is easily and fully accessible from hiking trails winding through some of the most diverse flora and fauna in Arizona. You'll see a wide variety of wildlife, from deer to javelinas, and birders should be ready to add many special species to their "life list."

Note: Fort Huachuca is an active military installation. US citizens may enter the fort with proper documentation, which includes photo identification for anyone over the age of 13, as well as proof of current vehicle insurance and registration. Non-US citizens may contact the Sierra Vista Visitor Center to find out about our approved escort program.

Millville Petroglyph Trail

You can kill two birds with one stone with a visit to the Millville/Charleston area. In addition to the remains of two of our ghost towns, you'll find a trail leading to sites where Hohokam artists created rock art more than 600 years ago. No one today knows the meaning of these ancient symbols; you can ponder their mystery as so many others have.

Museums, Historic Sites, Archeological Sites

Fort Huachuca National Historic Landmark and Museums

Established in 1877, Fort Huachuca significantly shaped both local and national history. Today it proudly serves as Arizona's last active Army post. Read more....

Henry F. Hauser Museum

Located in the Ethel Berger Center (across the parking lot from the Sierra Vista Visitor Center), the Henry F. Hauser Museum features Western and Native American displays with historic effects from Sierra Vista's early years. The museum celebrates the historic events of the multicultural and robust Southeastern Arizona area through permanent and themed exhibits, events, and publications.

Fort Bowie National Historic Site

Established during the Civil War on a former Overland Mail route, Fort Bowie played a key role in the pursuit of Geronimo and his band of Apaches. Today visitors can hike approximately three miles to the site of the original fort, passing the remains of the old Butterfield stationhouse. Displays in the Visitor Center highlight the colorful history of the fort.

The Amerind Foundation

Located near Cochise Stronghold - the hundreds of acres where the Chiricahua Apache leader hid out - nestled in Texas Canyon of the Little Dragoon Mountains is the Amerind Foundation. William Shirley Fulton established this unique museum and art gallery in 1937 as a private, nonprofit anthropological and archaeological research center for Native American cultures. Today it houses artifacts from Native American cultures from South American to Alaska. Plan to bring a picnic lunch and dine among the rock formations of Texas Canyon.

Slaughter Ranch

"Texas John" Slaughter, though short in stature at just 5 feet, 5 inches tall, casts a long shadow in the history of Cochise County. Elected sheriff of the county in 1886, just five years after the famous Gunfight at the OK Corral, Slaughter made it his personal mission to rid the county of bad guys. Known as "judge, jury, and executioner," he largely succeeded, one way or another. Today his original ranch house and its outbuildings have been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrenate

Established in 1776 by a mercenary employed by Carlos III, King of Spain, Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrenate was intended to provide security for the expansion of Spanish territory north from Mexico. By 1781, continuous attacks by Apaches had resulted in the deaths of more than 80 soldiers and made it impossible for the Presidio to sustain itself. Construction of the presidio was never completed, and it was abandoned less than five years after being founded. A few remains can be seen at the site today, and interpretive signs tell the story of this frontier outpost. From Hiway 82, take InBalance Ranch Road approximately 1.8 miles to the parking area on the right. A 1.2 mile hiking trail leads to the site.

Murray Springs Clovis Site

About 12,000 years ago, late ice-age Clovis hunters inhabited the Sierra Vista area and preyed upon mammoth and bison. At this self-guided interpretive trail, you'll find a nine-panel exhibit including displays of two kill-sites and one campsite.

Brown Canyon Ranch

Step back to the turn of the century - the 20th century, that is - with a visit to Brown Canyon Ranch. First permanently occupied by John Thomas Brown and his family around 1800, the property passed through many hands over the years, until it was acquired by the U.S. Forest Service as part of a land swap in 1998. The ranch is now part of the Coronado National Forest.

The adobe ranch house, storeroom, and corrals provide a glimpse of ranch life in the early days. The windmill still pumps water into a storage tank, and the pond, with its beautiful trees and lush vegetation, provides a home to an endangered species of frog. Hiking trails lead from the ranch into Brown Canyon and connect with other trails throughout the National Forest.

Ghost Towns

It's the rare visitor to our area who doesn't ask about our ghost towns. Bygone eras always have a unique allure all their own that makes sites even more special to explore.

Be sure to enjoy yourself when visiting our ghost towns, but please remember that it's a federal offense to remove artifacts from public lands, including arrowheads, pot sherds, and other historical objects. Use caution when exploring these sites. Old mine entrances, rattlesnakes, and other hazards can be dangerous to the unwary.

Also keep in mind that some of our "ghost towns" are home to current residents who are very much alive! Please respect their privacy - no trespassing!

Charleston/Millville

Charleston and Millville were two of the communities that sprang to life as a result of the mining boom in Tombstone in the 1880's. Millville was the mill site for the Tombstone silver mines. When the mines in Tombstone flooded, shutting down mining operations, Millville was abandoned. Today only the massive foundations of the ore processing buildings remain as witness to the mining boom. Charleston, directly across the San Pedro River, was the bedroom community for Millville. In its heyday, it was considered to be tougher than Tombstone. The U.S. Army used Charleston as a training site for house-to-house combat during WWII. The remains of this wild river camp were virtually obliterated; only a few scattered sheets of tin and heaps of adobe rubble remain today.

Fairbank Historic Townsite

Located along the San Pedro River off State Highway 82, Fairbank was founded in 1881 and became an important railroad depot. Once boasting a post office, general store, a Wells Fargo office, a restaurant, a hotel, a schoolhouse, a meat market, a mill and, naturally, a saloon, today Fairbank is easily accessible to visitors. The schoolhouse has been restored and serves as a visitor center and small museum, operated by the Friends of the San Pedro River .

Contention City

Near Tombstone, Contention City was another of the "mill towns" where ore from Tombstone was processed, leaving heaps of ruin and rubble. Not much remains of the original site, and access requires hiking north along the San Pedro River from Fairbank.

Courtland

21 miles north of Douglas, about six miles off US Highway 191. The one-time thriving mining camp was named for Courtland Young, a mining engineer. The town's single resident doesn't encourage sightseers.

Dos Cabezas

On State Highway 186, 15 miles southeast of Willcox. A few residents still support a small P.O. The town was formerly an active supply center for surrounding mines and cattle ranches. Remains include vacant, crumbling adobes and the 1885 Wells Fargo Stage.

Duquesne

Santa Cruz County 19 miles east of Nogales. Established around the turn of the century, this former mining center had a peak population of 1,000 residents, including Westinghouse of Westinghouse Electric, who lived here while taking millions of dollars in ore from his nearby mine. P.O. established in 1890. Ruins, Washington Camp 3/4 mile beyond. Private property, no access to the public.

Gleeson

16 miles east of Tombstone. Even before the arrival of Spaniards in this area, Indians were mining turquoise near the present site of Gleeson. John Gleeson prospected the area in 1880s. Later, Tiffany's mined the same blue gem while other interests mined copper, lead and zinc. Contains picturesque ruins, cemetery. There are still people living in Gleeson. Please be courteous and respect private property rights.

Harshaw

Santa Cruz County 10 miles southeast of Patagonia. Settled about 1875, this place soon boasted a newspaper, "The Bullion," saloons, numerous stores, with 100 working mines nearby. Contains stone, adobe ruins, cemetery.

Hilltop

36 miles southeast of Wilcox on Rt. 186. Mine was established by Frank and John Hands. The town of Hilltop was first started on the west side of the mountain, then a tunnel was put through to the east side where an even larger town was established. Today, it is a ghost town.

Mowry

Santa Cruz County 15 miles southeast of Patagonia. This small town grew up around an old silver, lead and zinc mine purchased in late 1850's by Lt. Sylvester Mowry, U.S. Army. Lt. Mowry's operations were cut short in 1862 when he was charged with supplying lead for confederate bullets. He was jailed at Fort Yuma, and his mine was confiscated by Uncle Sam. Contains extensive ruins.

Paradise

Six miles northwest of Portal. A briefly active mining town dating from early 1900s, Paradise is still "home" to a few old-timers who are glad to point out the old town jail and ruins of various businesses. Part of the town is privately owned.

Pearce

One mile off U.S. 191 from a point 19 miles south of Willcox. This old gold camp once had a population of 2,000 -- all of them well supported by the wealth of the Commonwealth mine. Johnny Pearce discovered the mine in 1894. In its heyday, the old Commonwealth was the richest gold digging in southern Arizona. Contains operating store and post office, with many vacant adobes, mine and mill ruins.

Washington Camp

Santa Cruz County 20 miles south of Patagonia. Now ruins, the camp once was the major service community for Duquesne, Mowry and Harshaw. At its peak in 1905, it had a population of 5,200 miners and their families. Check road conditions.

 

 


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