Learning more about the history surrounding the places we live is a value Matthew and I share. After Thanksgiving, we drove out to the Coronado National Forest in the Dragoon Mountains to visit Cochise’s Stronghold.
Chiricahua Apache Chief Cochise spent over ten years hiding in the Dragoon Mountains. Specifically, he and his people would escape through two rocky canyons connected by a trail high in the Dragoon Mountains.
In 1872 when the U.S. government created the Chiricahua Reservation in Arizona Territory, Cochise agreed to cease hostilities. Sadly, Cochise did not enjoy peace for long. In the summer of 1874, he died.
While Cochise was buried in his favorite stronghold, no one present for his burial ever whispered the location of his grave.
In 1998, Sam Negri from The Tucson Weekly wrote about an event where descendants of Apache warriors visited Cochise’s Stronghold to learn more about their history. Read the reprint of “Chiricahua Memories Descendants of Apache Warriors Revisit Cochise’s Final Battleground.”
For our day trip, we decided to walk the short 0.4-mile Nature Trail that highlights the variety of plants within the Dragoon Mountains.
This serene trail winds in a loop with several stairs built to make climbing up and down easier. There are plenty of benches where you can sit and enjoy the scenery. Coronado National Forest welcomes leashed dogs on their trails. Just remember to bring water for you and your entire pack.
For the adventurous mountaineers, Cochise Stronghold has 295 climbs in its backcountry.
To get to Cochise Stronghold, take the Dragoon Road exit off I-10 and head east for about 30 minutes to the sign for Cochise Stronghold Road, which runs south and into the National Forest. Signage is clear. The last couple of miles are on a gravel primitive road best navigated around 20 mph.
Keep in mind that you are off the beaten path, so there’s no cell service in the Cochise Stronghold Campground and many surrounding areas. Bring plenty of water, food, and gas. Once you’re off I-10, you need to be self-sufficient.
If you’re driving through Arizona and you don’t have time to visit Cochise’s Stronghold, be sure to stop at the Texas Canyon Rest Area off I-10. The granite rocks of the Dragoon Mountains surrounding you will give you a sense of how impressive Cochise’s Stronghold truly was and remains.
If you’re in the Dragoon area, be sure to check out Wicked Burgers, a gourmet food truck with paw some burgers!