Fort Bowie National Historic Site in Arizona protects a fort that was in use from 1868 to 1894. The fort was a military outpost during the Apache wars of the late 19th century. Today the park carefully preserves the ruins of Fort Bowie.
Fort Bowie National Historic Site
Today the Fort helps tell 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, Alabama, and later Oklahoma.
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 Mangus Colorados and Cochise fought the California Volunteers.
Getting to the park is part of the adventure! The last few miles to the park are unpaved road. You will be passing through the Apache Pass Road.
Once you reach the park you will need to decide if you want to take a 1.5 mile hike each way to the visitor center or use the access road to the park.
Hike to the Visitor Center
The park suggests taking a 3-mile round trip hike from the parking lot to the visitor center. This hike has approximately a 200-foot elevation gain and is considered moderate by the park.
There is little to no shade along the trail! You will want to be prepared for uneven ground, heat, and wildlife along the way. Please make sure you bring the ten essentials with you.
If you choose to do the hike, you will pass by the site of the Bascom Affair, the site of the Battle of Apache Pass, Apache Springs, Butterfield Stage Station, the old post cemetery, and an Apache wikiup, Apache Spring before reaching the 1st and 2nd fort.
Non-Hiking access to the Visitor Center
If you are not excited to hike 3-miles to the visitor center don't worry there is another option. There is an ADA accessible access to the visitor center.
There are signs on Apache Pass Road that designate the ADA route. Once you reach the parking lot there is still a 500-foot trail along an uneven pathway and stairs. The path to the visitor center does go up about 80 feet in elevation gain.
If you are unable to climb stairs or walk on an uneven trail you can contact the visitor center to have them open the gate. Once the gate is open you can drive to the visitor center to have easier access.
The option of opening the gate is only available for visitors who are not able to reach the visitor center without assistance.
I will say that the walkway to the visitor center is uneven. If you have any knee or mobility issues you may want hiking poles, your cane, or someone with you.
The visitor center has an amazing porch with rocking chairs that are great for looking out over the fort site.
Inside the visitor center, there is a collection of artifacts that have been found on the site.
From the visitor center, you can wander through the historic fort and see the adobe walls that remain from the historic fort.
Things to know when planning a trip to Fort Bowie NHS
Park Address: 3500 South Apache Pass Road, Bowie, Arizona 85605
Entrance Fee: $0.00, there is no charge to visit the park
Park Hours: The park is open every day from sunrise to sunset.
Weather: From June 15 to September 30th is considered Monsoon season. Flash flooding can happen quickly in this area!
WiFi: There is no public WiFi
Cell Service: Limited cellular service at the park visitor center and no cellular service on park grounds and trails.
National Park Service Website: https://www.nps.gov/fobo/index.htm
National Park Sites near Fort Bowie NHS
Saguaro National Park
Tonto National Monument
Check out how many national park sites are in the US!