Arizona's fascinating Southeast corner is where
you can drive from the desert floor to green
forests on top of mountains in only a half hour.
You can visit Wild West towns -- like Tombstone --
explore a mine in Bisbee, see more birds than
almost anywhere else, and walk across two border
crossings into Mexico.
a great place to travel with kids, because almost
everything that happens here -- from the migration
of hummingbirds to watching a recreated shootout
between the Earp and Clanton brothers -- is
interesting to young people, and makes for greeat
Bisbee, Tombstone, Willcox, Douglas, Sierra Vista,
Nogales—these are the major towns of Southeastern Arizona.
They all provide good launching spots for a tour of
the natural and man-made attractions of this Old West
part of the state. Benson and Willcox are at the
northern edge of the region, on Interstate 10.
Tombstone is just south of Benson. Bisbee, Douglas and
Nogales are a short drive from Tombstone, and are are close to the Mexican border. Sierra Vista
is farther west.
is a great place to take the kids for a vacation. All
of the towns, especially Tombstone and Bisbee -- have a charm left over from the wild west days of the
1800s, when prospectors and miners came to the region
and established the tough little communities that are
still lively places.
Tombstone is more of a living, breathing museum of Wild West
life than it is a real, modern town. Called "The Town
Too Tough to Die", Tombstone had tough years following
the collapse of mining, and reinvented itself as a
kind of Old West theme park. The restaurants and
saloons are real, in buildings that date from the
mining era. The courthouse became a state museum, and
the infamous OK Corral is still there -- the scene of
frequent stagings of the Wyatt/Clanton shootout.
Tombstone attractions include the Boot Hill Graveyard,
the Rose Tree Inn Museum, with the largest rose bush
in the world (and over 100 yearss old), and the Silver
Nugget Museum -- although you might not want to take
the kids into a former brothel and gambling den, but
then maybe you would.
Bisbee offers families a mine to tour, as well as many
historic buildings that date from its mining age. The
Copper Queen Hotel is still in operation, and is a
great place to stay and eat. Nearby Douglas is a
gateway to Mexico. Nogales
offers another chance to visit Mexico. Many visitors
just walk across the border crossing into downtown
Nogales, Mexico. Here, you';ll find shops with Mexican
arts and crafts, and restaurants. Patagonia is a
charming Old West town, with several B&Bs and good
restaurants, and some of the finest birding in the
Chiricuhua National Monument is perched atop a mountain, east of Benson and south
of Willcox. The monument contains myriad fantastic
rock pillars in a sky island with fir trees, mosses
and ferns, and lots of wildlife. It is reached from
either side of the Chiricahua Mountains, via US 666,
Arizona Route 160, or US 80 which runs between
Interstate 10 and Douglas. Camping provides one of the
joys of visiting the Chiricahuas, and you can pitch a
tent or park an RV in the national monument
campgrtound, or in a national forest campsite.
The San Pedro River flows northward, through Benson
and close to Tombstone. Most of the riverside in this
area has been preserved as the San Pedro National
Riparian Conservation Area. The river habitat is home
to more than 130 species of birds, which migrate to
the area, with many varieties living here year-round.
Trails lead from parking lots along the river to prime
birding spots. Other
prime birding areas are in Patagonia at the
Conservancy's Patagonia-Sonoita Reserve, and at Ramsay Canyon, near Sierra
Vista, where you'll see more species of hummingbirds
than in any other place in the United States. For
detailed information on bird watching prospects in the
region, as well as information on historic sites, go
to our Arizona
in all, Southeastern Arizona offers families a
relaxed, fascinating vacation adventure -- exploring
natural wonders and re-living early western life in
what used to be rough and ready mining towns.