Fort Bowie commemorates in its
1,000 acres, the story of the bitter conflict between the Chiricahua Apaches and the United States military. For more than 30 years Fort Bowie and Apache Pass were the focal point of military operations eventually culminating in the surrender of Geronimo in 1886 and the banishment of the Chiricahuas to Florida and Alabama. It was the site of the Bascom Affair, a wagon train massacre, and the battle of Apache Pass, where a large force of Chiricahua Apaches under
Mangas Coloradas and Cochise fought the California Volunteers.
The remains of Fort Bowie today are carefully preserved, the adobe walls of various post buildings and the ruins of a Butterfield Stage Station. It stands as a lasting monument to the bravery and endurance of U.S. soldiers in paving the way for westward settlement and the taming of the western frontier. It also serves to give us an understanding of the "clash of cultures," one a young emerging nation in pursuit of its "manifest destiny," the other a valiant hunter/gatherer society fighting to preserve its existence. Apache resistance was finally crushed at Fort Bowie, and the result was the end of the Indian wars in the United States.
The hike in to the fort is part of the Fort Bowie experience. Visitors can get a sense of the lonely isolation that the soldiers experienced while stationed there. The trail also winds past remains of a Butterfield Stage Coach Station, the post cemetery, an Apache Wickiup, the Chiricahua Apache Indian Agency, Apache Springs, the original fort and finally the more elaborate Fort Bowie and the visitor center.
While at the fort, visitors can tour the ruins of Fort Bowie, view the exhibits inside the visitor center, bird watch, and hike the trails. Picnic facilities are located at the trailhead and the visitor center.
The park is 116 miles east of Tucson via I-10, and 227 miles from Phoenix. From Willcox drive southeast for 20 miles on State #186 to the Fort Bowie turn off, then drive another eight miles on the unpaved road to the Fort Bowie Trailhead. Be prepared to walk the three miles round trip to the ruins and back to your car. From the town of Bowie, the trailhead is located on Apache Pass Road, 13 miles south.