The road ends at Massai Point where we stopped for nearly an hour. For those who like to walk, there was plenty of time for the adventure of walking down amongst the alien looking landscape of pillars and rocks that seemed to defy gravity. For those that wanted to stay up top, there was more than enough time to take pictures in every direction. From the top, our trip leader pointed out across the valley to the west at the Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains. That was part of our trip in 2008 as part of the Cochise Expedition, another trip rich in history and centered on the Apache Chief of the same name.
With our exploration stop at Massai Point at an end, we began our descent to the valley and our journey to Fort Bowie. As we drove down the mountain, we were greeted by the “head of Cochise,” a rock formation that bears a resemblance to the Apache Chief looking up at the sky. Along the way, more picture taking opportunities of the different perspectives of what we missed behind us on the way up.
It was just a few more miles of pavement after we left the Chiricahua’s to the dusty dirt road to Fort Bowie. What was most amazing on our drive there was the almost immediate change in the landscape. We went from aspens and tall pines in the Chiricahua’s to grassy meadows to desert, in just 20 or so miles. The turn to Fort Bowie was well marked and again the dust from the trail was marking our progress in no uncertain terms. The trail gets a bit confusing because you pass signs saying you have entered Fort Bowie and then you pass a sign saying leaving Fort Bowie. In reality, you have not gotten to Fort Bowie yet.. And then you arrive at an oasis in the desert, covered picnic tables, concrete out houses, and the trail to Fort Bowie.
This is where we stopped for lunch. To the uninformed, the impression is that if you want to see Fort Bowie, you need to take the 1.5 mile walk down the trail…and then back. After lunch, that is exactly what several of our group did with one exception. They would not have to walk back because some of our “shotgun” riders would take their Jeeps to the less traveled and less know back entrance.