|Enjoying Nature||Native American History||Trail Rides||Rock Hounding|
|Birdwatching||Astronomy||Ride the Dunes||Pamper Yourself|
Southeastern Arizona has inspired writers, poets, and artists since the earliest prehistoric people inhabited the Gila River Valley.
From the ongoing archaeological studies, western legends, historic towns, and rich Native American cultures, this region of the southwest holds an allure unmatched across America.
Covering the northern part of the Sonoran Desert and the northwestern tip of the Chihuahuan Desert, this vast region is as fascinating as it was when ancient Paleo-Indian tribes settled these waterways. The Mogollon, Hohokam, and Salado Indians saw much of the same vegetation and animal inhabitants. Its basically unchanged since Francisco Vasquez de Coronado explored the region. The Buffalo Soldiers saw the same landmarks while they fought Cochise and his small band of Chiricahua Apaches.
The area extends from Picacho Peak (the site of the only Civil War battle in the southwestern United States), south to the Mexican border, west to Ajo (AH-ho, near the Organ Pipe National Monument), and east to the New Mexico state border. Tucson is the largest city in the region, but the real fun is found in the small rural communities found throughout the area.
Benson (60 miles south of Safford, on Interstate 10) was the regions railroad hub until 1910. The copper and silver flowing from the mines of the area spurred interest and kept the greenhorns coming. Close by are the adobe ruins of the Butterfield Stage Coach Depot.
Today, Benson is best known as the home of Kartchner Caverns State Park. One of the most recent finds in North American caving, there is no evidence that any human had seen this cave prior to its discovery in the 1970s. Great care has been taken in preserving the pristine conditions of the caverns. A limited number of visitors are allowed daily into the caverns, so reservations are accepted up to one year in advance. It is a remarkable wet (or living) cave, meaning the calcite formations are still growing and many geologic studies are ongoing.
The region is home to many Native American tribes. Their histories and cultures are documented and exhibited in many locations. The Signal Hill petroglyphs, near Tucson, are excellent examples of ancient artwork found throughout the area. South of Willcox (40 miles south of Safford on US 191), the Chiricahua National Monument commemorates the exploits of fierce Apache raiders. Explore the rugged canyons forming an endless granite fortress from which the Chiricahua Apaches based their raids. Many believe the secret burial place for their famous war chief, Cochise, is somewhere in this maze of hiking trails and picnic areas.
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