Old West/Ranch Itinerary

Two places epitomize Arizona’s Old West and Ranching story: Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park and John Slaughter Ranch. Cochise County played a major role in settling the American West. Tour these well known spots and many others to really experience Arizona’s Old West story.

Guns blazed during the famous shootout with Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, the Clantons and the McLaurys. Visit the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park to get an in-depth view of the town and explore the events that led up to those mysterious seconds at the O.K. Corral.

The entire town of Tombstone is a living museum of Old West history. Walk the boardwalks and stop in at the Birdcage Theater. Built in 1881, this is an authentic historic landmark of the Old West. It was a theater, a saloon, a gambling hall and a brothel.

Next, head to the O.K. Corral. It houses life-size figures of the 1881 gun battle, C. S. Fly Photo Studio, Tombstone history photo gallery and daily gunfight reenactments.

Finally, visit Boothill Cemetery , the final resting place of the Clantons and McLaurys and many other Tombstone residents from the past.

In its day, Slaughter Ranch was a large, successful cattle ranch. Located in the San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge, it tells the tale of John Slaughter, another famous Old West lawman. Just east of Douglas, the cattle ranch survived drought with its spring that is still present today. A cattle rancher and Cochise County sheriff, Slaughter Ranch commemorates this larger than life personality. It is one of the most notable cattle farms in the region. 

Price Canyon Ranch and Grapevine Canyon Ranch are working cattle ranches in Cochise County that offer “city slickers” a chance to experience ranching life as it is today.

From the late 1800's to 1930, the Willcox depot was a nationwide ranching and cattle-shipping area. Both enterprises still flourish; livestock auctions are held every week, and the town is home to the only surviving Southern Pacific Depot in the southern U.S. 

Rex Allen Museum/Cowboy Hall of Fame
Rex Allen, known as the "Arizona Cowboy," brought much pride to Willcox. A real cowboy legend starring in western movies, Allen’s voice is still treasured in his narrations of Walt Disney's “Wonderful World of Color” nature shows. You can see his Hollywood memorabilia in the Rex Allen Museum. Also in the museum is the Cowboy Hall of Fame, which pays tribute to revered members of the ranching community. Ranching greats are inducted into the Hall of Fame each year during Rex Allen Days, the first weekend in October.

Historic Railroad Avenue
While on historic Railroad Avenue, stop in Willcox Commercial, the oldest continuously operated store in Arizona. Apache leader Geronimo shopped here. Stop by Marshal Bo’s Old West Mercantile for some Western wear or other cowboy paraphernalia or watch the “Gunslingers of the West" perform gunfight reenactments on Saturdays.

Southeast of Willcox is Fort Bowie, where the Bascom Affair took place. This event launched the Indian Wars in the late 1800's. Access to Fort Bowie is an eight-mile dirt road to the trail head. Along the way, you can see where the Butterfield Overland Stage stopped and view a cemetery.

Benson's links to the Old West lie in its role to linking the West with news from the East. The Butterfield Overland Stage began in 1858. The U.S. government awarded a $600,000 contract to John Butterfield to carry mail from St. Louis to San Francisco twice a week. The stage’s southern route promised little snow and ran 100-250 coaches, about 1,000 horses, half as many mules and about 800 employees. The Butterfield Stage ended its run in Arizona in 1859.

Every year, Benson holds the Butterfield Overland Stage Days. During the event, and for a month following, the U.S. Post Office designs a special cancellation stamp for letters mailed in the area. Benson later became “railroad hub of Southern Arizona” when the Southern Pacific Railroad ran tracks south to Fairbank, Bisbee and the Copper Canyon Railroad in Mexico.

Gammons Gulch is an 1890s town and mining camp that has been recreated to show the Wild West as it really was. It includes movie memorabilia, a nature path and a birding area. Everything in Gammon's Gulch is authentic, from the working telegraph to the shingle nails, even the outhouses were originally used by Old West cowboys. 

Singing Wind Bookshop
Ranchers need more than their horses and cattle to keep them company. Owner Winn Bundy decided she wanted books. And she wanted to share her passion. She purchased a few books to start, and now this shop has evolved from a few shelves in her room to hundreds, if not thousands, of titles. Check the Benson Visitor Center website to see their scheduled events.

Cochise Stronghold 
A vast expanse of rocks and forest in the Dragoon Mountains, this is where Cochise is reported to be buried. Where is his grave? The mystery continues today. No one knows, but this was his favorite hideout. He and fellow tribe members used the natural landscape to escape and launch their own attacks during the Indian Wars that made the Old West so legendary.

Established as an Army Post in 1877 to fight in the Indian Wars, Fort Huachuca was home to B Troop of the U.S. Cavalry. U.S. citizens can visit historic sites with the Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers every month during guided tours.

Though Bisbee is known more for mining than its Old West, Michael London, an archivist, historian and former stuntman, hosts walking tours throughout historic Bisbee. Journey into the past while touring the streets with London, who dresses in Old West finery. Contact the Bisbee Visitor Center for more information.

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