Located about 15 miles north of the border with Mexico, Fort Huachuca is an Army installation with a rich frontier history. Established in 1877, the Fort was annexed in 1971 by the city of Sierra Vista and declared a national landmark in 1976.
Today Fort Huachuca is the largest employer in Cochise County and the largest economic contributor in Arizona. The Fort develops and tests Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Combat Systems, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capabilities; delivers intelligence and unmanned aircraft systems training and education; designs, develops and integrates intelligence capabilities, concepts and doctrine; and provides world-class quality support services to the Huachuca community to enable mission command in support of Army and Joint operations and the continued evolution of Fort Huachuca.
The Fort’s unique environment encompasses 964 square miles of restricted airspace and 2,500 square miles of protected electronic ranges, key components to the national defense mission.
With picturesque mountain views in all directions and a temperate four-season climate, Sierra Vista beckons visitors with clear skies, fascinating history, and world-class birding.
Surrounded by towering 10,000-foot mountains and known as the “Humming Bird Capital of the U.S.,” Sierra Vista is primed for outdoor exploration.
From its early days as a community growing under the protective wing of neighboring Fort Huachuca during the Apache Wars, Sierra Vista has blossomed into the recreational and cultural hub of Cochise County. Thanks to the Fort, Sierra Vista is a melting pot of ethnic cuisine, where independent restaurants serve authentic dishes from around the globe.
Sierra Vista’s climate and southern location make it a major stop for rare birds. Though you can spot resident and migrating birds year-round, the annual Christmas Bird Count regularly records one of the nation’s highest tallies of inland species.
While you’re outside, take in the scenic panoramas, rolling byways, and outdoor trails by bike, boot, or hoof. With a 360-degree mountain view, you’ll see why Sierra Vista (literally “mountain view” in Spanish) is so aptly named.
When the sun sets, a thick blanket of stars blaze across the dark night. These views have paved the way for Sierra Vista as a center for amateur astronomy; the city has more than a dozen amateur observatories as well as the Patterson Observatory at University of Arizona South campus, which offers public viewing.
The Chiricahua Mountains are the largest of Arizona’s Sky Island mountain ranges and the second highest. The main crest of the mountain range resembles rolling hills atop a narrow high plateau rather than distinct mountain peaks. This relatively flat area is bounded on the east and west by steep slopes and sharply dissected canyons. Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmanii)reaches its southernmost limit in North America in this mountain range. The vegetation at upper elevations is dominated by ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, and white fir, with the ponderosa pine evenly distributed and the other two conifers confined mostly to north-facing slopes. Small dense stands of Engelmann spruce are found on several north-facing slopes.
- Chiricahua National Monument: This National Monument features a wonderland of rock spires eroded from layers of ash deposited by the Turkey Creek Volcanic eruption 27 million years ago.
- Chiricahua Wilderness: The Chiricahua Wilderness is home to a fascinating diversity of both plant and animal life, as well as some of the Southwest’s most spectacular geology. This 87,700-acre wilderness covers much of the upper slopes and inner canyons of the mountain range.
Southwestern Research Station: The Southwestern Research Station is a year-round field station owned and operated by the American Museum of Natural History. Since 1955, it has served biologists, geologists, and anthropologists interested in studying the diverse environments and biotas of the Chiricahua Mountains.
Fan of Western movies? Then there’s no doubt you’re already familiar with Tombstone and the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
But instead of walking in the footsteps of Kurt Russell on some Hollywood set, walk the wooden boardwalks along the dusty main drag in the real mining town of Tombstone.
After getting its start as a silver mining claim in the late-1870s, the settlement grew along with its Tough Nut Mine, becoming a bustling boomtown of the Wild West. From opera and theater to dance halls and brothels, Tombstone offered much-needed entertainment to the miners after a long shift underground. In 1886, the mines flooded and hit rock bottom, and the miners moved on to the next claim.
But the “Town Too Tough to Die” didn’t earn its nickname name for nothing.
Now a tourist hotspot, you can still hang up your cowboy hat and dust off your chaps in the numerous saloons, restaurants, and shops that line Allen Street – each building with its own story to tell. Begin your tour at the old Tombstone Courthouse, now a museum, and be a part of the action with live reenactments of the shootouts that made the town famous held on every corner – the most notable at the iconic O.K. Corral