Thursday, August 21, 2014

Weekend in Chiricahua, Part 3: Visiting Fort Bowie

Saturday, August 16, 2014

After leaving Chiricahua, we drove about a half hour North to Fort Bowie. Off highway 186, the road to get there was gravel but well maintained, and even with the recent rains we didn't encounter any flooding. (Important to note that in Arizona during monsoon season!) The parking lot and trailhead are 8 miles in, and then you hike 1.5 miles to get to the site of the fort. 

It was starting to warm up quite a bit now in the early afternoon. We filled up our Camelback with water and finished off our Oreos before starting on the hike. There was only one other vehicle, so we knew we were going to enjoy yet another quiet hike.

Starting on the trail! I might advise you not do this hike in the heat of an Arizonan summer. There isn't a whole lot of shade along the trail, so you're in direct sunlight a lot - and I have a burn to prove it! 

Here we came across the first set of ruins - they also did some mining here when they found gold.

I found shade! I took advantage of benches under trees whenever I could. :)

Curtis really enjoyed the informative signs throughout the hike. He read while I hid from the sun. :) 

In the cemetery, about ¾ of a mile into the hike.

I've been to many forts and battlefields in the Eastern parts of the country, and the unfortunate part about ones I've been to hear in the Southwest is that since the walls and buildings were built with adobe, they are now mostly just ruins due to the rain wearing them down over the years. It's hard for this place to top places like Fort McHenry when you can't walk into a 200 year old fort!

Examples of shelters - the one on the right is more of a winter home while the one on the left is for the summer!

We made it to the air conditioned visitor's center! They have a lot of interesting photographs and artifacts on display there. Curtis, as you can see, especially enjoyed playing dress up. :) The only thing that could have made it better was…ice cream!

Here's where the fort was - it's hard to see all the ruins, but it was actually once very large and spread out. Many of the buildings that were here were officer's houses.

Here's what it used to look like - oh how we wish we could walk around something more like this! :)

Looking back at the visitor's center - the brown building in the background.

Calvary barracks - the biggest structure there.

...And what it used to look like!

This used to be the commanding officer's quarters - it was a large Victorian-style house that served very little purpose. :)

What it used to look like!

The trail to the fort is a loop trail, 3 miles round trip. We were all for the change of scenery on the way back, but the trail began by having us scurry up the side of a large hill. The trail was quite rocky, and the other family that was visiting opted to return the same way because they had a stroller with them. This picture was taken about when we were at the top of the hill, you can see the visitor's center on the left side and some of the ruins scattered around.

Facing the other direction - heading back to our car. After the trail had us walk straight up the hill, it switchbacked all the way around the ridge and down the other side. We're just thankful it was all downhill from there!

We made it! We had a quick and beautiful drive back home after a great day of hiking. 

Oh yeah, it's a beautiful sunny day, blue skies, and raining. I just love Arizona. :)

If you're interested in hearing more about the history that took place at Fort Bowie, my husband has written a great summary on his blog, with some letterboxing clues thrown in as an added bonus. ;) Check it out here!

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