Fort Bowie & the Butterfield Trail

After figuring out what exactly The Thing is, we continued towards our original destination: Fort Bowie. Fort Bowie was an Army outpost built in 1864 only to be abandoned 30 years later.

A 3-mile round trip hike is the only access to the ruins. It should have been an easy hike. But just when we were starting to think that we've gotten used to Arizona weather, we do something like hike those 3 miles in 93°F (34°C) heat. I don't think we'll ever get used to the heat here! And it's not even the hottest month yet!

Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Wilcox, AZ

The hike is basically in the middle of nowhere. That middle-of-nowhere location was chosen because of it's proximity to Apache Spring and because of skirmishes with the Chiricahua Apache's (Battle of Apache Pass and the Bascom Affair).

1.5 mile hike trail to Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Wilcox, AZ
See? Middle of nowhere. This stretches on for miles.

The Butterfield Overland Mail Route intersects with the trail about 1/4 mile from the trailhead. Can you imagine how awful being a postman must've been when that was in use?


It looks like the remnants of this trail will eventually fade away but right now you can still see the path the wagons and horses took every 23 days.

Butterfield Stage station ruins of Fort Bowie, Chiricahua, Wilcox, AZ
What's left of the stage station.

Along the way is a graveyard in which it looks like most of those resting there were killed in a skirmish:

Graveyard of Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Wilcox, AZ

Grave tombstone headstone killed by Indians at Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Wilcox, AZ

Adobe base foundation Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Wilcox, AZ

Apache straw hut with blanket at Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Wilcox, AZ

Inside Apache straw hut near Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Wilcox, AZ

wood stick shade Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Wilcox, AZ
Trying to cool off in the shade.

Green trees on trail to Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Wilcox, AZ
Greenery!

Stream near Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Wilcox, AZ
This little trickle of water is the cause of all the greenery!  We get excited about natural water down here in AZ.

Ramp on 1.5 mile hike trail to Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Fort Bowie, AZ

Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Fort Bowie, AZ

Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Fort Bowie, AZ Then and Now
Then and now.

Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Fort Bowie, AZ
What's left of the armory

Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Fort Bowie, AZ

Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Fort Bowie, AZ
Cavalry barracks

Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Fort Bowie, AZ

Leonids at Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Fort Bowie, AZ

Old photo of Apaches at Fort Bowie, Chiricahua, Fort Bowie, AZ

Leonids at Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Fort Bowie, AZ

Panorama view of Fort Bowie ruins, Chiricahua, Wilcox, AZ

Fort Bowie National Historic Site

Address: 3327 S Old Fort Bowie Rd, Bowie, AZ 85605
Fees: Free
Hours: Varies by season. Visit here for details.
Miles: 3 Miles round trip to ruins
Skill Level: Easy

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