Railroad Avenue in downtown Willcox is something of a little historic district. Here you'll find the Rex Allen Museum, plus the restored Southern Pacific Willcox Train Depot, 101 S. Railroad Ave., a redwood depot built in 1880. Inside the old depot is a small display of historical Willcox photos. Also worth checking out is the Willcox Commercial, 180 N. Railroad Ave. (tel. 520/384-2448), a general store that has been around since the days of Geronimo.

Downtown Willcox is also becoming something of a wine-touring destination. Currently, there are two tasting rooms in downtown Willcox. These are in addition to several wineries outside of town. My favorite local winery is Keeling-Schaefer Vineyards Tasting Room, 154 N. Railroad Ave. (tel. 520/824-2500; www.keelingschaefervineyards.com), which has its tasting room in town and its vineyards and winery southeast of town at the foot of the Chiricahua Mountains. Keeling-Schaefer produces excellent syrah and grenache from estate-grown grapes, and also does chardonnay and a rosé. The tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday from 11am to 4pm, and the tasting fee is $5. Also here in town, you'll find the tasting room of Carlson Creek Vineyard, 115 Railview Ave. (tel. 520/766-3000; www.carlsoncreek.com), which is across the railroad tracks from the Keeling-Schaefer tasting room and produces primarily Rhone varietals. Currently, Eric Glomski, one of my favorite Arizona winemakers, is making the wines for this little winery. The tasting room is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11am to 5pm, and tastings cost $6. In the town of Bowie, 25 miles east of Willcox, you'll find the tasting room of Fort Bowie Vineyards, 156 N. Jefferson St. (tel. 888/299-5951; www.fortbowievineyards.net). This winery sells some very drinkable, inexpensive wines. It also produces an unusual pecan-flavored sparkling wine and sells locally grown pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and peaches. The tasting room is open daily from 8am to 4pm.


Southwest of Willcox

While Chiricahua National Monument claims the most spectacular scenery in this corner of the state, a couple of areas southwest of Willcox in the Dragoon Mountains are almost as impressive. The first of these, Texas Canyon, lies right along I-10 between Benson and Willcox, and can really only be enjoyed from the comfort of a speeding car. Huge boulders are scattered across this rolling desert landscape.

South of the community of Dragoon, which is known for its pistachio farms, lies a much less accessible area of the Dragoon Mountains known as Cochise Stronghold (www.cochisestronghold.com). During the Apache uprisings of the late 19th century, the Apache leader Cochise used this rugged section of the Dragoon Mountains as his hideout and managed to elude capture for years. The granite boulders and pine forests made it impossible for the army to track him and his followers. Cochise eventually died and was buried at an unknown spot somewhere within the area. This rugged jumble of giant boulders is reached by a rough gravel road, at the end of which you'll find a campground, a picnic area, and hiking trails. For a short, easy walk, follow the .4-mile Nature Trail. For a longer and more strenuous hike, head up the Cochise Trail. The Stronghold Divide makes a good destination for a 6-mile round-trip hike. For more info, contact the Coronado National Forest Douglas Ranger District, 1192 W. Saddleview Rd., Douglas (tel. 520/364-3468; www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado).


East of Willcox

If you'd like to explore the Chiricahua Mountains from the back of a horse, Blue Sky Ranches (tel. 520/824-1660 or 818/726-5430; www.blueskyranches.com) offers trail rides of anything from 1 hour ($40) to all day ($125).

Douglas & Environs

The town of Douglas abounds in old buildings, and although not many are restored, they hint at the diverse character of this community. Just across the border from Douglas is Agua Prieta, in Sonora, Mexico, where Pancho Villa lost his first battle. In Agua Prieta, whitewashed adobe buildings, old churches, and sunny plazas provide a contrast to Douglas. At the Douglas Visitor Center, 345 E. 16th St. (tel. 800/315-9999 or 520/364-2478; www.visitdouglas.com), pick up a map to the town's historic buildings, as well as a rough map of Agua Prieta.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.