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Originally established in 1862, this year marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Fort Bowie, a military outpost that was built during the decades-long conflict between the U.S. military and the Chiricahua Apaches. Fort Bowie National Historic Site (NHS) will commemorate the establishment of the fort by hosting several special events throughout October.
Park rangers will conduct guided hikes into the site every Sunday during October. Visitors can meet a ranger at the Fort Bowie trailhead on Apache Pass Road at 10:00 am on October 7, 14, 21, and 28 for a one and a half mile hike into the fort ruins. The hikes will focus primarily on the chronology of events that led to the establishment of the fort, including the Bascom Affair and the Battle of Apache Pass. Participants should bring water and snacks and wear sturdy shoes. Guided hikes end at the visitor center, and visitors can make their way back to the trailhead at their leisure.
On Saturday, October 20, Fort Bowie NHS will host two historians and noted authors at the visitor center. Both will speak about the fort and the history of the Apache Pass area, with Douglas C. McChristian speaking at 11:00 am and Edwin R. Sweeney speaking at 1:00 pm. Mr. Sweeney is the author of several bibliographies and books about Apache leaders including Cochise, Geronimo and Mangas Coloradas. Mr. McChristian has written extensively about the U.S. Army during the late 1800s, including a book specifically about Fort Bowie. Altogether, six books between the two authors are sold at the visitor center. Western National Parks Association, the non-profit organization that operates the bookstore, will offer a 15% discount on all items that day. Both authors will be available for book signings before and after their presentations.
On Saturday, October 27, the Old Arizona Brass Band, also known as the 4th U.S. Cavalry Regimental Band, will be performing music from the western frontier. The band will be performing two sets at the visitor center between 11:30 am and 2:00 pm. Complimentary cake and sarsaparilla soda will be served between sets. Once again, Western National Parks Association will offer a 15% discount on all items in the bookstore that day as well. On both Saturday, October 20, and Saturday, October 27, ranger-led programs, including tours of the fort ruins and heliograph demonstrations, will be available throughout the day. Contact the visitor center for specific times.
Throughout October, visitors to Fort Bowie NHS will also be able to enjoy a collection of artifacts on loan from the Western Archeological and Conservation Center in Tucson. All of the artifacts were found at Fort Bowie, and speak to the role or presence of women and children at the fort. The artifacts are on display at the visitor center, open 8:00 am to 4:30 pm daily.
All events are free and open to both individuals and groups. Visitors should be prepared to hike to the fort ruins and visitor center, a round-trip distance of 3 miles. The trail is well-marked and includes easy to moderate terrain. Visitors are encouraged to bring picnic lunches (no food is available onsite) and spend the day exploring and enjoying the area. The site includes a visitor center and bookstore, which are open daily. Weather conditions this time of year are variable, but visitors should bring plenty of water, sun protection, and comfortable walking shoes. People with limited mobility can contact the visitor center for more information about accessibility options.
Fort Bowie NHS is located off Apache Pass Road. From Willcox, travel 22 miles south on State Route 186 to Apache Pass Road. Turn left on Apache Pass Road and travel eight miles along the dirt road to the trailhead parking lot. From Bowie, travel 14 miles south on Apache Pass Road to the trailhead parking lot. Apache Pass Road turns into a gravel road approximately 12 miles from Bowie.
For more information about events commemorating the fort's sesquicentennial, contact the visitor center at 520-847-2500 ext. 1 or visit www.nps.gov/fobo.