Southeast Arizona

Texas Canyon

Southeast Arizona is a spasely-populated, scenic region of the Sonoran desert with a number of historic sights as well as remote wilderness areas.


Other destinations


Travelers speeding by on I-10 between western New Mexico and Tucson could be forgiven for assuming there's not much to see in this remote corner of Arizona. The only real clue is the Texas Canyon rest stop on I-10; there's little else to suggest that there's more here than tumbleweeds and rocks. Leave the interstate, however, and soon you find yourself in storied cowboy and Indian country: the land of Wyatt Earp and the Clanton brothers, and of Geronimo's last stand. There's much more than that here, though, as the oldest documented evidence of human inhabitants anywhere on North America is located in this region. To really experience all of this the traveler should leave the highway, and, ideally, the pavement.

Culturally there is a long history of human activity here, beginning with the Clovis culture approximately 9000 BCE, and continuing through the pre-Columbian and early Spanish periods. Besides scattered petroglyphs and pictographs and adobe ruins, however, there's little from this early history for the traveler to easily appreciate. In contrast, the region's more recent Apache, Mexican, and American history is inescapable. With the exception of the Chiricahua Apaches, who were sadly forcibly removed in the 19th century, the influence of this cultural melange continues to the present day.

Geographically the region is characterized by basin and range topography punctuated by Madrean Sky Islands, a landscape which is unique to southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and northern Sonora, Mexico. The desert valleys are hot and arid, while the mountain ranges are covered by cool pine and oak forests, with corresponding cooler temperatures.



English is the primary language spoken here, although Spanish is widely understood and spoken, particularly along the Mexican border.

Get in

By plane

Tucson International Airport (IATA: TUS), , 7250 S Tucson Blvd,  +1 520-573-8100. Served by a number of airlines, this is the closest airport with commercial service. There is shuttle service available to Sierra Vista.

By train

Benson is the only city with an Amtrak station at 105 E 4th St. It is served by two routes: the Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle.

By car

Interstate 10 (I-10) is the main thoroughfare, with access from the northwest from Tucson and from the east from New Mexico.

Get around

A car is essential as there is no public transportation. To access some of the more remote off-road areas, a four-wheel drive is recommended.


Historic sites

Fort Bowie ruins
Pre-Columbian petroglyphs by the Charleston & Millville Historic Townsite
The historic Cochise Hotel (see itinerary listing 'Ghost Town Trail')


Ghost town of Pearce

Ghost Town Trail


Looking into Mexico from Montezuma Pass, Coronado National Memorial
Civil War graves in Dragoon Springs
Sandhill cranes at Whitewater Draw

Bird watching


Accommodation options listed below are outside of major population centers. For locations with more urban amenities, see town and city listings above.


Guest ranch in the Chiricahua Mountains


Rockfellow Dome in Cochise Stronghold
Parker Canyon Lake


As this is ranching country steakhouses are easy to find, and much food is heavily influenced by Sonoran cuisine. Mexican food is widely available.

Aside from in the population centers, restaurants in this sparsely-populated region are few and far between. For provisions, the towns of Sierra Vista, Bisbee, Willcox, Benson, and Douglas all have good-sized grocery stores, with Sierra Vista having the best selection.

Stay safe


As with any outdoor activity in the desert southwest, the standard precautions should be taken here, especially in more remote areas.


Javelinas (peccaries)

Drug and human trafficking

Southeast Arizona is a corridor for traffickers, although in recent years the problem has abated somewhat as smuggling routes have shifted to the east and west. Still, it may be inadvisable to camp in some areas as smugglers travel most often at night; day hiking however in the same areas may be safe. Inquire locally as to current conditions, or contact the nearest Border Patrol office for guidelines.

Go next

Tucson is within an hour's drive, as is neighboring southwest New Mexico. Visit Mexico for the day (via Douglas or Nogales), or visit nearby Tumacácori Mission and Tubac in South Central Arizona.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 26, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.