The Wild West happened in southeastern Arizona. These are the lands where the Spanish priests and soldiers first entered; where the cowboys stood guard over their large herds of cattle; where Cochise and Geronimo fought to save their people and their way of life; and where rip-roaring mining towns sprang up in almost every canyon to bring us such names in history as Tombstone and Bisbee, the Earps and the Clantons.
This is the land of the Gadsden Purchase and a place where a series of magnificent Sky Islands rise up from the Sonoran Desert floor to create unique and diverse landscapes and ecosystems.
Point of Travel – this part of Arizona is now under the watchful eyes of the U.S. Border Patrol. Travelers through this land should expect to encounter Border Patrol checkpoints with courteous agents and their faithful drug-sniffing dogs on most major highways. If you choose to travel the back roads of this land, we recommend traveling only with local and knowledgeable guides.
While looking for fall in southeastern Arizona, we suggest visiting…
- Kartchner Caverns State Park is a living cave and is located on Az. Highway 90 just 52- miles east of Tucson. An annual autumn treat is the reopening of the Big Room Tour on October 15, making both the Rotunda/Throne Tour and the Big Room Tour once again available to the public. We believe that Kartchner Caverns is the #1 must see destination in Arizona. http://azstateparks.com/Parks/KACA/index.html
- A visit to Patagonia is like traveling away from Arizona. Located on a high mesa along AZ Highway 82, Patagonia, along with the nearby towns of Sonoita and Elgin, make up what is known as the Mountain Empire, http://www.patagoniaaz.com/.
Here each fall, rolling, grass covered hills with herds of grazing horses make for a landscape more reminiscent of the Great Plains than the Sonoran Desert. This is a land of ghost town tours, daylong horseback rides, bird watching, hiking, biking, wine tasting and so much more. The 24th Annual Patagonia Fall Festival is scheduled for Oct. 12 – 14 and is known as the best small town celebration in Arizona. - http://www.patagoniafallfestival.com/
Other nearby Patagonia attractions:
- Ghost town tours - http://southernarizonaguide.com/ghost-towns-southern-arizona/
- Horseback riding - http://horsebackexperience.com/directions.htm
- Patagonia State Park –
- The crown jewel for hiking/biking/horseback riding in southeastern Arizona must surely be found on the Sky Island that is home to the Chiricahua National Monument. In this land of Dr. Seuss-like balance rocks, visitors can explore the 17 miles of hiking trails or simply enjoy an 8-mile scenic drive through this rock wonderland. Seven species of oak trees are found within the monument and make for a colorful display when fall arrives each October. - http://www.nps.gov/chir/index.htm
- Willcox is a great place to stay while visiting southeastern Arizona. It is a small town but can be a base camp for visiting many nearby attractions. Apple Annie’s, one of the great, family-friendly farms of Arizona, is just 10-miles outside of town. Apple Annie’s will be in full autumn celebration as it is open every day during the month of October. http://www.appleannies.com/
Other nearby Willcox attractions:
- Fort Bowie - http://www.nps.gov/fobo/index.htm - Rex Allen Museum - http://www.rexallenmuseum.org/
- Amerind Museum -
- The many attractions in and near Tucson, http://www.visittucson.org/, could fill more than a couple of autumn weekend get-a-ways. Fall in lovely Sabino Canyon is even more sensational and visiting the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in the cool weather of October is equally magnificent! http://parentseyes.arizona.edu/sabino/index.html and http://www.desertmuseum.org/ .
Other nearby Tucson attractions:
- Tohono Chul Park - http://www.tohonochulpark.org/wordpress/
- Reid Park Zoo, http://reidparkzoo.org/
- Ted DeGrazia’s Gallery of the Sun - http://degrazia.org/
- Presidio Turquoise Trail - http://www.visittucson.org/includes/media/docs/DowntownTour.pdf
- Arizona State Museum - http://www.statemuseum.arizona.edu/
- San Xavier del Bac - http://www.sanxaviermission.org/
- Colossal Cave Mountain Park -
- Saguaro National Park -
- International Wildlife Museum –
- The top fall festival along the I-19 Corridor occurs once again at Tubac Presidio State Park, on October 19. The annual De Anza Days commemorates the 1775 journey of Spanish Conquistador Juan Bautista de Anza’s journey from Tubac to the San Francisco Bay area. http://azstateparks.com/Parks/TUPR/
Just 4.5 miles further down I-19 is Tumacacori National Historic Park. The De Anza Trail runs along the Santa Cruz River connecting the Mission of Tumacacori with the Tubac Presidio. The cottonwood trees in this riparian environment will be in full autumn colors in mid-October for anyone who wishes to walk in the footsteps of the early Spanish soldiers, explorers and priests. http://www.nps.gov/tuma/index.htm
Other nearby I-19 Corridor attractions:
- Titan Missile Museum -
- Tombstone and Bisbee are mining towns that refused to die when the 1880 – 1930 mining boom of this region ended. The 84th annual Helldorado Days of Tombstone occurs October 18 -20. The 132nd anniversary of the Gunfight at the OK Corral occurs on October 26. Both events will be decorated with the natural autumn leaves of the season. http://www.helldoradodays.com/
Nestled in a canyon of the Mule Mountains is lovely Bisbee, once known as the “Queen of the Copper Camps.” There is never a bad time to visit Bisbee, but the cool nights and autumn splendor of the Bisbee canyon make October the perfect time to spend a night or two at the Copper Queen Hotel or the Shady Dell. On October 19th the 23rd Annual Bisbee 1000 Great Stair Climb will kick off once again as the most unique and challenging 5K run in America. http://www.discoverbisbee.com/index.htm and http://www.bisbee1000.org/index.htm
So it is pretty easy to find a reason to get out and spend some time each fall in southeastern Arizona. Men and women from around the world made a lot of history by gathering in this corner of Arizona and the amazing stories of their lives await your autumn visit.
Pictures 5, 6 and 7 were taken by Susan Moody of the Chiricahua National Monument.
|Patagonia Fall Festival|
|Ruins of Fort Bowie|
|Mural at Presidio of Tucson|
|Tohono Chul Park, Tucson|
|Chapel of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Gallery of the Sun|
|Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona|
|Into Colossal Cave|
|Tumacacori National Historic Park|
|Allen Street of Tombstone, Arizona|
|Shady Dell of Bisbee|