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This website is not sponsored by the Forest Service.
Information is provided as a public service by Cochise Stronghold B&B.  Site maintained by Geir Hundal.

 

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Cochise Stronghold is located to the west of Sunsites, Arizona in the Dragoon Mountains at an elevation of 5,000 ft.  This beautiful woodland area lies in a protective rampart of granite domes and sheer cliffs which were once the refuge of the great Apache Chief, Cochise, and his people.  Located within the Coronado National Forest it is managed by the Douglas Ranger District.  In Sunsites, AZ, take Ironwood Rd. (off State Rt. 191) west 9.1 miles to campground entrance. Once inside the Forest, Ironwood Rd. becomes Forest Rt. 84.  NOTE: After, 3.8 miles, Ironwood Rd. (and Forest Rt. 84) becomes a rough, rocky dirt road. There are five stream crossings on Forest Rt. 84 that can be forded if not wet weather.


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#2.gif (30669 bytes)This rugged natural fortress was, for some 15 years, the home and base of operations for the famed Chiricahua Apache Chief, Cochise.  Cochise and about 1,000 of his followers, of whom some 250 were warriors, located here.  Sentinels, constantly on watch from the towering pinnacles of rock, could spot their enemies in the valley below and sweep down without warning in destructive raids.  No man, woman or child within a hundred miles was safe from these attacks.

Born in present-day Arizona, Cochise led the Chiricahua band of the Apache tribe during a period of violent social upheaval. In 1850, the United States took control over the territory that today comprises Arizona and New Mexico.  Not hostile to the whites at first, he kept peace with the Anglo-Americans until 1861, when he became their implacable foe because of the blunder of a young U.S. Army officer, Lt. George Bascom.   In that year, Cochise and several of his relatives had gone to an encampment of soldiers in order to deny the accusation that they had abducted a child from a ranch. The boy was later proved to have been kidnapped by another band of Apaches. During the parley, Cochise and his followers were ordered held as hostages by Bascom, but Cochise managed to escape almost immediately by cutting a hole in a tent. Bascom later ordered the other Apache hostages hanged, and the embittered Cochise joined forces with Mangas Coloradas, his father-in-law, in a guerrilla struggle against the American army and settlers. The capture and murder of Mangas Coloradas in 1863 left Cochise as the Apache war chief.   The U.S. Army captured him in 1871 and prepared to transfer the Chiricahua to a reservation hundreds of miles away, but he escaped again and renewed the resistance campaign. The following year after negotiating a new treaty with the help of Thomas Jeffords, his only white friend the band was allowed  to stay in their homeland. 

The portion of the Butterfield Stage Line run from Fort Bowie to Tucson crossed just off the northern tip of the Dragoon Mountains.   This line was a favorite target of Cochise's warriors, they killed 22 drivers in a 16 month period.  The Butterfield Stage Line established a station stop on the north end of the Dragoons in 1858.  It was called the "Dragoon Springs" station due to the natural springs located there.  A massacre occurred at this site on September 8, 1858.  On October 5, 1869 a Col. John Finkle Stone, the 33-year-old president of Apache Pass Mine, near Ft. Bowie, headed back to his home in Tucson aboard a mail coach. He had an escort of four soldiers. When they approached the abandoned stagecoach station at the north end of the Dragoon Mountains, a group of Apaches came out of a gully and hit them fast and hard, killing everyone.  (The ruins of the station stand today although the springs were rerouted by mother nature in an earthquake in the late 1800's.)

Cochise is reputed to have been a master strategist and leader who was never conquered in battle.   For ten years Cochise and his warriors harassed the whites by raiding lonely ranches and attacking stagecoaches and miners.  Cochise retired.  He died peacefully on the newly formed Chiricahua  reservation in 1874.  His son, Taza succeeded him as chief.   Upon his death, he was secretly buried somewhere in or near his impregnable fortress.  The exact location has never been revealed or determined.  <

The town of Cochise, Cochise County, the renowned geological feature known as Cochise's Head in the Chiricahua Mountains and the Stronghold are all named in tribute to him.

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Rockfellow Dome in through the sycamores in the Autumn.

Click Here for rare Winter Snow at same location.

 

Within the Stronghold is a hiking/equestrian trail that goes from the East Cochise Stronghold Campground, over the "Stronghold Divide" and down into the West Stronghold Canyon.  This trail was originally an Indian trail and is approximately 4 miles long one way.

The Interpretive Trail consists of a short loop trail approximately 0.12 of a mile long with information along the way about the Stronghold, Cochise and his descendants.   It is a beautiful, leisurely walk among the oaks and junipers. 

The Nature Trail, self-guided  is approximately 0.4 mile long and is clearly marked.  It forms a rough horseshoe shape and involves some up and downhill climbing.  There are benches strategically placed, so you can sit and listen to the whispers of those from long ago and enjoy the superb views of the canyon.


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#5.gif (38514 bytes) Stronghold offers Handicap Accessible restrooms.  These restrooms consist of one large stall containing a "composting" toilet, which is environmentally friendly and odor free.  

There is no dump station for R.V.'s

Campsites : R.V.'s are welcome up to a length of 30', although smaller is preferred.  There are no pull-through sites, you have to park on the standard forestry type apron.  There are a total of 11 sites, 9 for tents or RVs and 2 group sites.  Each site has a grill and picnic table.

The maximum length you may stay in the park is 14 days.   The fees for staying are as follows.  Please note that 85% of the fees collected at the Stronghold for use stays on the site for improvements and maintenance.

Day Use
(Hiking & Picnicking)

Overnight Camping
R.V. Usage

$ 5.00

$10.00 ($5.00 for seniors with the Golden Access Card)

Please take the time to read about "Leave No Trace", available from the Bureau of Land Management.  This is information is important whether your in our National Forests, Parks or just looking around an old ghost towns.  Help preserve the land so that others may enjoy it also.  Thank You.

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There is a high danger of fire due to the dry conditions throughout the southwest.  Please respect our forests and help maintain the beauty of them by following all campground rules on fire and make sure all fires are OUT.  At certain times of the year we prohibit fires of any kind due to the high fire danger.  We will let you know on this site what level the fire danger is and whether or not fires are prohibited.

Thank you for helping us maintain the beauty of our National Forests.

     For more information on Cochise Stronghold or the Coronado National Forest please call the Douglas Ranger District Office: (520) 364-3468 or click here.


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Tucson Weekly Article - Cochise and the Chiricahua Apache Descendants
Forest Fun for Kids - Stories, Forest Links & Fighting Forest Fires


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Making Peace with Cochise   by Edwin Sweeney
An Apache Life-way   by Morris Opler
I Fought with Geronimo  by Jason Betzinez
Geronimo   by Angie Debo
Indeh   by Eve Ball
Cochise   by Ed Sweeney

 

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