More than one reason to visit….
If you are looking for an adventure, Sierra Vista and the surrounding landscape offer a plethora of activities. From outdoor excursions to experiencing the past, you can spend weeks on end here and not see it all. Below are just some of the attractions in our community.
To see more, check out our Adventure Guide.
Wining and Dining
Growing wine grapes in Arizona has been documented for more than 400 years, starting with the Spanish Missions. South East Arizona is the heart of Arizona’s premier wine regions. Sonoita, Patagonia and Willcox offer rich soil, rising elevations, cool nights and warm days creating a vintner’s dream. There are currently 25 wineries and tasting rooms within a short drive of Sierra Vista. The Sierra Vista Adventure Guide offers a list on page 20.
For cuisine aficionados, try dipping into our eclectic restaurants offering a variety of food including authentic German, spicy Mexican, aromatic Asian, zesty Italian and of course, delicious American food. Sierra Vista also hosts a number of chain restaurants to round out anything that you may be craving. For a listing, download the Sierra Vista Dining & Lodging Guide.
Outdoor Activities: Biking, Hiking, Caving & Bird Watching
Sierra Vista’s sunshine allows outdoor activities year round. As Sierra Vista is surrounded by continuous mountain ranges offering endless trails through canyons and hilltops for hikers and bikers. The outdoor enthusiast will enjoy the 4,600+ altitude with peaks topping 9,000 feet. Summer waterfalls, lush green ferns along with golden brown grasses and high desert fauna are found in Sierra Vista.
Adventurists can also hike through the historical mining sites, see strange rock formations and enjoy our protected night skies.
Nearby Benson is home to Kartchner Caverns, voted the Best Caves in the USA by USA Today. It’s a newly discovered living cave whose wonders include a 21-foot soda straw stalactite and the 58-foot column, Kubla Khan. Although it’s the desert, the San Pedro River flows through the community offering weekend hikes and guided tours.
All of these combine to create a treasure trove of wild life in the region. Sierra Vista is known for its rare birds and abundance of humming birds. The rare Elegant Trogon can be found here along with another 150 species of birds. Travelers from all over the world come to Sierra Vista to catch a glimpse of the Warblers, Kingfishers and Tanagers.
Cochise County was home to many famous historical figures such as Cochise, Geronimo, John Slaughter, Wyatt Earp, and Doc Holliday along with the Buffalo Soldiers. Their stories played out across the tapestry of the mountains and grasslands of Cochise County.
Fort Huachuca, Home of the Buffalo Solider & Military Intelligence
Fort Huachuca, a National Historic Landmark, is a product of the Indian Wars of the 1870s and 1880s. In March 1877, a camp at the mouth of Huachuca Canyon was established with two missions: protect settlers in the area and stop Apache raiding parties from escaping into Mexico. Geronimo’s surrender in 1886 all but ended the Apache danger in Southern Arizona and the Army closed more than 50 camps and forts in the territory. Fort Huachuca was retained due to continuing border troubles. The all African-American 24th Infantry was the first entire regiment stationed at the Fort. The 10th Cavalry “Buffalo Soldiers” arrived in 1913, served in Pershing’s punitive expedition against Pancho Villa in 1916, and helped guard the U.S.-Mexican border until 1931. Since then Fort Huachuca has been the one-time home of every regiment of the original Buffalo Soldiers, starting in 1892. The Post has hosted the 24th and 25th Infantries which were once the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st Infantries. The 10th Cavalry, the group first named buffalo soldier, arrived at Fort Huachuca in December 1913 and stayed for eighteen years.
Following World War II, the Fort was declared surplus and transferred to the State of Arizona. In 1954, the Chief Signal Officer, United States Army, discovered southeastern Arizona ideal in area and climate for the testing of electronic and communications equipment. As a result, the U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground (EPG) reopened Fort Huachuca as an active Army Post. From that time on, the Post has steadily increased in importance as a vital contributor to the national defense. Fort Huachuca was annexed by the City of Sierra Vista in 1972, and these two entities currently enjoy one of the most cordial relationships in the United States. Currently, the Post host the U.S. Army’s Intelligence Center.
Tombstone: Earps’ Shootout at OK Corral, Boot Hill
”The Town too Tough to Die,” Tombstone is perhaps one of the most well-known towns in Arizona. When Ed Schieffelin came to Camp Huachuca with a group of soldiers and left the Fort to prospect, his companions told him that he’d find his tombstone rather than silver because of the constant danger of hostile Apaches. So, when Schieffelin made his first strike in 1877, he named the claim Tombstone. News of his silver strike spread and quickly brought prospectors, miners, businessmen, fortune hunters, lawmen, and the lawless until the population of Tombstone reached 12,000 to 15,000 in 1881.
oday, Tombstone’s population is 1,800. Surging waters in the mines ended the boom in the late 1890′s, but not before names like Virgil, Morgan, and Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, the OK Corral and the Clanton Gang were household words throughout the nation. During World War I, Tombstone was a major producer of manganese for the government. In World War II, Tombstone was extracting lead for the cause. After both conflicts, Tombstone faded into obscurity. The citizenry of Tombstone decided rather than depending on a vanishing mining industry, they would focus their time and energy on tourism and restoration. Truly a Historical American Landmark, Tombstone is America’s best example of our 1880 western heritage, which is well preserved with original 1880′s buildings and artifacts featured in numerous museums. The wild days of the 1880′s are recreated each year with the exciting three-day celebrations: Wyatt Earp Days, Memorial Day weekend; Rendezvous of Gunfighters, Labor Day weekend; and Heldorado Days, the third Friday weekend in October.
Bisbee: Gold & Copper Mining
Bisbee was founded in 1880 and named after Judge DeWitt Bisbee, a financial backer of the Copper Queen Mine. One of the richest mineral sites in the world, Bisbee produced close to three million ounces of gold and more than eight billion pounds of copper in its prime. Amazingly, in the early 1900s, the Bisbee community was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco with a population of 20,000 people. Bisbee was rebuilt in 1908 after being destroyed by fire, but its homes and the downtown area still hold a Victorian charm.
As the mines were depleted, the population began to shrink. Mining operations on such a grand scale became unprofitable. The mine eventually closed when mining operations were discontinued in Bisbee in mid–1970. The Queen Mine opened once again as a tour for visitors in 1976. Bisbee today is rich in architecture and culture, with its numerous art galleries, antique stores, gourmet restaurants, craft shops, museums, and period bed and breakfast accommodations as well as hotels. Nestled in the mile-high Mule Mountains of southern Arizona, Bisbee resembles a European hamlet more than a dusty 1880′s Old West town.
Border Communities: Douglas, Auga Prieta, Naco; Slaughter Ranch
Douglas, Arizona is located on the US / Mexican border adjacent to the Mexican city of Agua Prieta. Incorporated in 1905, Douglas was first established as a smelter site for the prosperous copper mines in Bisbee, Arizona. The town is named after mining pioneer James Douglas. The area also has a history of cattle ranching and agriculture dating back to the 1800’s that continues to thrive to this day. Today, tourists with appropriate documentation can enjoy authentic Mexican food on both sides of this border community. If you don’t want to cross the border and want to experience a historic ranch, Slaughter Ranch is an option. The ranch lands were originally established on both sides of the border and are still available for tourist to enjoy. Bring a picnic and wander through the historic buildings.