Tombstone, Bisbee, and Chiricahua National Monument

Bill was looking forward to visiting Tombstone and Bisbee on this day.  I was hoping to get to Chiricahua National Monument.  It is always important to remember the need to compromise when traveling with a partner.  I threw together a quick fruit salad for breakfast and we began our journey south.  It was striking that within a half hour of leaving Tucson, the saguaro thinned out to nothing.

We reached Tombstone shortly after 10:00 a.m.  We drove right past Boot Hill.  Bill wasn’t interested.  As we entered town we could see stagecoaches drawn by unenthusiastic horses and mules.  Can you blame them?  There were also tours available.  The main street was closed to vehicular traffic.  We found a place to park the car and began exploring on foot.  We first visited the Cochise County Courthouse but did not have any interest in paying ad admission fee.  It did have a really cool, spiral staircase on the outside that reminded me of one in our old high school in Edmore.  

We happened down a street and came upon the Four Deuces; a little watering hole with many Harley Davidson “horses” tied outside.  Tombstone was Bill’s stop.  Of course we went inside.

Bob-the-bartender knew any and everything about the area as well as everyone who walked in the place!  Throughout Tombstone were people dressed in period garb.  Guys in long, gray hair with mustaches and beards … a perfect place for bikers to get a gig and Bob knew them all!  We did have a beer here despite the early hour.  We wandered town a bit and quickly realized that the majority of the structures were relatively new.   Many of the original structures had burned in earlier times.  Tombstone was definitely a tourist trap.  It was kind of cool to come upon the “Earp Brothers” and “Doc Holliday” preparing for the staged gunfight inside the O.K. Corral.  One of the Earp Brothers we had spoken to outside Four Deuces encouraged Bill to join them for a picture.  Of course.  I know where Bill can get a summer job if he ever needs one!

We left Tombstone and set our sights on Bisbee.  Along the way we spotted a large, round and white object in the sky.  Blimp?  I “Googled” on my phone to discover that a large white blimp was indeed being used on the border to assist in spottng illegal  immigrants.  This was such a foreign experience to us.  We were definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Bisbee was off my radar.  I knew nothing about it.  We had received a lunch recommendation from Bob and figured we’d stop there to explore and dine.  Bill knew that Bisbee was the site of the enormous Copper Queen Mine.  There are tours offered at the mine but knowing Bill’s claustrophobia I was confident that was not of interest to him.  The town is tucked down in a valley in the Mule Mountains.  We eventually found a place to park the car and started walking towards the center of town.  Shortly, I found a stairway that I figured was a shortcut.  Yeah, sure.

Those stairs led to more stairs, then more stairs and even more stairs.  We were definitely out of shape and at an elevation of 5,500 feet the air thinned out drastically.  Thankfully, we met a couple coming down who encouraged us to go all the way to Castle Rock.  We passed some very quirky little adobes on the way up those stairs.  Was the view spectacular?  Not especially, but we did work up our appetite for lunch!  

We eventually found our way to Contessa’s Cantina.  We had lost track of the fact that it was Valentine’s Day until we were well on the way to Tombstone.  We were reminded again when Bill’s meal was served.  The food at Contessa’s was wonderful.  The presentation was lovely as well.  I had asked for some jalapeño peppers on the side.  I received roasted peppers that were delicious!  We both agreed later that it was the best Mexican food we had during our trip.  I should say that I only had a taco salad because I was feeling the need for at least something green.  Still – delicious and well done.

The day was slipping by as we made our way down the street.  This was a very artsy, quirky, inclusive, historic community.  There were giant flies on some of the buildings as a reminder of the “Fly Swatting Contest of August 1912.”  The streets were lined with shops.  A couple of nice ladies invited us into the free soup kitchen for lunch.  (Did we look that bedraggled?)  I could see someone spending an overnight here just to absorb the place.  Instead, we stepped into Bisbee’s Stock Exchange Saloon out of curiosity.  It is located in a grand building constructed in 1905.  This was reportedly the best bar in Bisbee until 1914 when “The Great Experiment” was enacted by the Federal Government – prohibition.  The downstairs of the bar was taken over by the brokerage firm that had rented space on the second floor.   When the bar reopened in the 1980s the stock board was retained on the wall.  We definitely walked off our meal and returned to our car.

Bob (the bartender) had told us about a cutoff to the road to Chiricahua.  First we stopped by the immense pits created by the Copper Queen mine.  Mining has scarred considerable land in the area although there are pictures showing how nice the land looks after “reclamation”.  I didn’t see it.  We located Double Adobe Road and headed east.

It was already after 3:00 p.m. when we arrived at Chiricahua National Monument.  I had hoped to do some hiking on the Echo Canyon trail while in the park.  We started at the visitor center.  Admission was free.  The ranger suggested that we do the Bonita Canyon Drive 8 miles to Massai Point.  She explained that the wonderful thing about Chiricahua was that you could see much of the park from the car.  So we did!

We drove over snow in the road on the way to Massai Point.  Once there, we found the short, half-mile nature hike.  At an elevation of 6870 feet we were happy to meander.  The nature trail afforded some great views of the hoodoos and standing rocks of rhyolite.  The Chiricahua Mountains are referred to as “sky islands”. There was plenty of snow along the trail that tempted me for a toss.  I resisted.  Though we enjoyed every minute, it was hard to photograph with the sun sinking low in the west.  

On the way down from the point, we visited the trailhead for the Sugarloaf trail.  Visited the trailhead mind you.  Did not climb!  We stopped at multiple pull offs.  My favorite views were of the Organ Pipe Formations.  

As we headed off toward Wilcox and US10, we felt quite satisfied with our day.  It would take us nearly 2 hours to get back to our lodging in Tucson but the sky gave us such a beautiful show along the way.  When we arrived back at Raven Ridge we enjoyed an evening snack of cheese and crackers before we climbed into our big king-sized bed.

1 thought on “Tombstone, Bisbee, and Chiricahua National Monument

  1. Awesome photos and write up. We just moved to Prescott and plan to see all there is to see in the great state of Arizona! ChrisLorraine


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