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Cochise Stronghold and the Dragoon Mountains

 

Cochise Stronghold Canyon lies in the heart of the Dragoon Mountains about 30 miles southwest of Willcox, AZ. This is a beautiful woodland area lying in a protective rampart of granite domes and sheer cliffs which were once the refuge of the great Apache Chief, Cochise, and his people.

This area is administered by the Douglas Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest. It is managed under the Forest Service multiple use and sustained yield concept. This is the policy whereby we may obtain "the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run" and yet maintain our natural resources on a sustained basis.

History

This rugged natural fortress was, for some 15 years, the home and base of operations for the famed Chiricahua Apache Chief, Cochise. Cochise and about 1,000 of his followers, of whom some 250 were fighting men, located here. Sentinels, constantly on watch from the towering pinnacles of rock, could spot their enemies in the valley below and sweep down without warning in destructive raids. No man, woman or child within a hundred miles was safe from these attacks.

Cochise is reputed to have been a master strategist and leader who was never conquered in battle. In 1872 he came to terms with the white man and lived out the remaining two years of his life in peace. Upon his death, he was secretly buried somewhere in or near his impregnable fortress. The exact location has never been revealed nor determined.

 

The town of Cochise, the county of Cochise, the renowned geological feature known as Cochise's Head in the Chiricahua Mountains, and the Stronghold Canyons in the Dragoons are tributes to Cochise.

The entire Dragoon Mountain range and surrounding area abound in mining, military, livestock and other historical facts of the old west. The Mountains were named after the 3rd U.S. Cavalry stationed near the area. This cavalry (horse mounted) unit were referred to as the "Dragoons". They were called Dragoons because they carried a large carbine rifle rather than the customary saber.

 

A portion of the Butterfield Stage Line (between Fort Bowie and Tucson) ran just off the northern tip of the Dragoons. This line was a favorite target of Cochise whose warriors killed 22 of the drivers in a 16 month period. The Butterfield Stage Line established a station stop on the north end of the Dragoons in 1858. It was called the "Dragoon Springs" station. It is located in the Coronado National Forest. The ruins of the station stand today. An historic massacre occurred at the station on September 8, 1858.

There are several ghost towns in the immediate vicinity which were once centers of considerable mining and livestock activity. A few of the readily accessible ones are Pearce, Gleeson and Courtland. The legendary city of Tombstone (the town too tough to die) with its famous Boot Hill Cemetery, lies a few miles to the southwest.

 

Nature Trail

 

The wide variety of plant life and interesting natural features of the area led to the construction of a self-guided nature trail completed in 1965. The trail rises to such a height above the campground as to give an excellent view of the entire canyon affording good sightseeing and photographic opportunities

 

Other Attractions

 

There is something in the immediate area which should appeal to everyone, whether camera bug, hiker, sightseer, historian, hunter, rockbound bird watcher, botanist or those seeking solitude.

An old Indian trail, 4.75 miles long, travels from the East Cochise Stronghold Campground to the "Stronghold Divide" then down into the West Stronghold Canyon is over the same trail.

Rockfellow Dome is a renowned geological feature of the Canyon. Elevation of this feature is 6,542 feet. It is named after John A Rockfellow, an early inhabitant of the Canyon. The life of Mr. Rockfellow is disclosed in his autobiography, "Log of An Arizona Trail Blazer". Mr. Rockfellow lived in the area in the 1880's.

The area surrounding Cochise Stronghold Canyon is open to the hunting of whitetail deer, mule deer and javelina in season.

 

Camping and Picnicking

 

These consist of concrete tables, ccoking fireplaces, parking areas to acommodate both automobiles and trailers. Other facilities include water and conveniently located restrooms.

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