A visit to Willcox, Arizona is like a tour of the history of the people and places that epitomize the American Southwest. The town’s history museums pay tribute to Arizona’s native Apache peoples and famed singing cowboys. National monuments and wildlife areas are the perfect place to witness the iconic landscapes, plants, and animals from the miles of hiking trails and driving loops snaking through forested valleys and arid mountain ranges. The area’s climate also makes it a prosperous grape growing region, home to nationally and internationally-known wineries, tasting rooms and local festivals.
1.Chiricahua National Monument
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The Chiricahua National Monument spans 11,985 acres of southeast Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains, an inactive volcanic range of uneven peaks rising over 9,000 feet from forest-covered valleys. Volcanic activity occurring over millions of years gave rise to the monument’s peculiar geological formations. An 8-mile paved roadway and 17 miles of hiking trails carve through the park for visitors to investigate the area’s caves, faults, and lava flows. The monument is also home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, whitetail deer and nearly 200 species of birds. The Visitor Center offers geology, archeology, cultural and natural history exhibits as well as a bookstore for visitors to explore. The park is open year-round and welcomes classroom field trips.
12856 E. Rhyolite Creek Road, Willcox, AZ 85643, Phone: 520-824-3560
2.Fort Bowie National Historic Site
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Fort Bowie was the seat of U.S. military operations against the Chiricahua Apache people for decades, until the Chiricahua’s were banished to the American southeast in the surrender of Geronimo in 1886. Located at the crossroads of the Dos Cabezas and Chiricahua Mountains, the historical site preserves the written accounts and artifacts of the people involved in the conflict inside the Visitor Center. Visitors can also tour the ruins of the former U.S. Army base and explore Apache Pass, a historic travel route for the Chiricahua people. The area’s converging ecosystems offer unique opportunities for birding, hiking, and wildlife viewing. Groups can schedule ranger-led educational programs or guided hikes.
3500 South Apache Pass Road, Bowie, AZ 85605, Phone: 520-847-2500
3.Rex Allen Arizona Cowboy Museum
© Rex Allen Arizona Cowboy Museum
The Rex Allen Arizona Cowboy Museum opened in 1989 to honor the famous singing cowboy and Willcox native son Rex Allen. The cowboy’s talents ranged from rodeo to radio, films, and television, making him a country western icon beginning in the late 1940s. The museum features memorabilia from Rex Allen’s career, with a gift shop offering a variety of music CD’s and DVD’s of the actors’ movies and television series, as well as souvenirs and gifts. An oversized bronze statue of Rex stands across the street from the museum, with his horse KoKo buried at the foot of the statue. The museum features other real-life Willcox residents who embodied the cowboy lifestyle and values in the Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame.
150 N. Railroad Ave., Willcox, AZ 85643, Phone: 520-384-4583
4.Chiricahua Regional Museum
© Chiricahua Regional Museum
The Chiricahua Regional Museum serves to preserve the history of the ethnic groups and events that helped shape southeast Arizona. Maintained and operated by the nonprofit Sulphur Springs Valley Historical Society, the museum holds a collection of artifacts, written documents and photographs that tell the story of development in the area from prehistoric times to today. The museum particularly focuses on the native Chiricahua Apache people and their interactions with early settlers, military conflict and the impacts of ranching, farming, railroads, and mining. The Chiricahua Regional Museum also holds special events throughout the year including educational children's events to raise awareness of the area’s rich cultural history.
127 E. Maley St., Willcox, AZ 85643, Phone: 520-384-3971
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Grapes thrive in the sun and soil of the Willcox Bench, a region south of Willcox home to 15 wineries and renowned for producing award-winning Arizona wines. Owners Rhona MacMillan and Mark Jorve planted their first grapevines in the area in 2010, opening Zarpara Vineyard two years later. The winery and tasting room are a 15-mile drive from downtown Willcox, at the foot of the Dos Cabezas Mountains. Visitors can lounge on the patio overlooking the very grapes used to create Zarpara’s 12 red and white wines. Zarpara Vineyard also offers a wine club, with discounts on all wine purchases and two shipments of bottles each year straight to your door.
6777 S. Zarpara Ln. Willcox, AZ, Phone: 520-222-7114
6.Willcox Playa Wildlife Area
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The Willcox Playa Wildlife Area is the focal point of the 35-mile Sulphur Springs Valley Loop. The numerous viewing spots over the Willcox Playa make it an ideal site for bird watching, with migratory species flocking to the area between October and March. When it fills with water, the 28,000-acre basin becomes a habitat for thousands of migratory waterfowl and cranes. The sight of thousands of sandhill cranes taking off from the playa in the early morning draws visitors from all over the world. During the winter, the area is home to between 12 and 15 species of birds of prey, including red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, and bald eagles. Summer wildlife viewing includes turkey vultures, greater roadrunners and Swainson’s hawks, as well as mammals such as javelina, coyotes, bobcats, and mule deer.
555 N. Greasewood Road A, Tucson, AZ 85745, Phone: 520-628-5376
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The Nature Conservancy and other local agencies work to protect the Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area, 49,120 acres of natural landscapes and wildlife. Members of the conservancy can rent one of five casitas for a minimum three day stay on the property. Originally constructed in the late 1800s, the renovated buildings combine historic charm and luxury with antique furnishings, private bathroom, kitchen, and exclusive access to nearby natural spring hot tubs. Guests can take in the scenic views from The McMurray Commons multi-use room and deck for bird watching or stargazing. Beyond the casitas lie over 22 miles of hiking trails and canyons to explore.
6502 N. Muleshoe Ranch Road. Willcox, AZ 85643, Phone: 800-628-6860
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Coronado Vineyards has been crafting wines in southeast Arizona since 2005. Planted on a former golf course, the El Pinito Vineyard yields grapes for a variety of red, white, dessert and sparkling wines. Guests can take home bottles from the gift shop or sample a glass of Coronado Vineyard’s over a dozen wines in the tasting room, along with selections from the tapas menu including chips and dips, gourmet meat and cheese trays, flatbread pizza and a daily dessert special. Coronado Vineyards earned several awards for its wines at state competitions from 2008 to 2013. Visitors to Willcox can also find Coronado Vineyards represented at local wine festivals beginning in May and lasting through October.
2909 E. Country Club Dr., Phone: 520-384-2993, Willcox, AZ 85643
9.Apple Annie's Orchard
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Apple Annie’s Orchard is a family farming operation with eateries, gift shops and pick-your-own orchards spread across three locations in Willcox. Visitors can pick their own apples, pears, and peaches from the orchard, as well as corn, bell peppers, tomatoes, pumpkins, and other vegetables from over 125 acres of produce fields. Already-picked fruit and vegetables are available for purchase at the Country Store Gift Shop and Market, along with canned goods, gifts, and home decor. For a weekday lunch the Bakery & Fudge Counter offers hot and cold sandwiches and wraps, with and daily soup specials and homemade pies, bread, and fudge. On weekends The Orchard Grill serves an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, followed by burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and desserts for lunch.
2081 W. Hardy Road, Willcox, AZ 85643, Phone: 520-384-2084
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10.Friends of Marty Robbins Museum
© Friends of Marty Robbins Museum
The Friends of Marty Robbins Museum stands as a tribute to the life of famed musician Marty Robbins. Robbins made a name for himself as one of the most popular country singers of his day, becoming the first country western artist to earn a Grammy in 1959. Robbins later added race car driver to his list of talents, competing in the Daytona 500 in 1973. Robbins was born in nearby Glendale, where the Friends of Marty Robbins Museum was first founded. The museum later relocated to the historic Railroad Avenue in Willcox, beside a line of other museums celebrating southeastern Arizona’s cultural heritage.
156 N. Historic Railroad Ave., Willcox, AZ, Phone: 520-507-2028
11.Heart of Rocks
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Whether you call them hoodoos, pinnacles or standing-up rocks as the Apache Indians once did, the rock formations at Chiricahua National Monument are most impressive seen from the Heart of Rocks Loop. The hike to the Loop begins with the Lower Rhyolite Canyon trail out from the Visitor Center, a dirt path laid out in 1934 with views of Bonita Creek. The path intersects the Sarah Deming Trail, carved into the narrow Sarah Deming Canyon, leading past springs trickling down hill and across the main creek. The trail finally leads up to the Heart of Rocks Loop, with views of monuments so impressive that some have their own names like Punch and Judy and Big Balanced Rock. The loop is also a great spot for wildlife viewing, with black bears, cougars, coatimundis and skunks all rambling through the area.
12856 E. Rhyolite Creek Road, Willcox, AZ 85643, Phone: 520-824-3560
12.Aridus Wines Tasting Room
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The founders of Aridus Wines name their 40-acre estate vineyard after the Latin word “arid,” a tribute to the high desert conditions that make southeast Arizona a premier grape growing region. The winery is one of the largest in the state, occupying 28,000 square feet of industry leading wine making equipment in a refurbished apple warehouse. The winery’s sustainable design and rustic yet sophisticated atmosphere earned a Design Excellence award from the International Interior Design Association’s Southwest Chapter in 2014. Aridus wines themselves have also proven award-winning, with an array of red, white, rosé, semi-sweet, sparkling and vegan-friendly wines available.
145 N. Railview Ave., Willcox, AZ 85643, Phone: 520-766-9463
13.Willcox Historic Theater
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The Willcox Theater has a more than 100-year history providing entertainment for Willcox and the surrounding communities. Built in 1936, the Theater’s current facility features Southwest Art Deco architecture and style and was remodeled in 1990 to create a new entrance and add a larger marquee. Despite its historic feel the Theater includes all the capabilities of a modern theater, with state-of-the-art digital projection and sound systems to show new releases for matinee and evening screenings. The Willcox Historic Theater also encompasses the adjacent building, built in 1914 and purchased in 2016, used for film showings, dinner theater, art exhibits and other community activities.
134 N. Railroad Ave., Willcox, AZ 85644, Phone: 520-766-3333
14.Flying Leap Vineyards
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Flying Leap Vineyards farms 60 acres of grapes in Cochise County, situated in the foothills of the Dos Cabezas Mountains. The Kansas Settlement south of Willcox accounts for 90% of the fruit used in Flying Leap wines and welcomes parties of 8 or more guests to make reservations for a tour of the fields, on-site wine tastings and lunch in the outdoor picnic area. The experience offers the chance to talk with crews working in the vineyard and learn more about wine making and Arizona wine culture. The property also features restroom facilities and large organic vegetable and flower gardens.
5051 E. Flying Leap Way, Willcox, AZ 85643, Phone: 520-954-2935
15.TRUST Art Gallery - Flying Leap Vineyards
© TRUST Art Gallery - Flying Leap Vineyards
The TRUST Art Gallery is a partnership between Flying Leap Vineyards and TRUST Art & Design to celebrate local art and wine in the Flying Leap tasting room in the heart of historic downtown Willcox. The building housing the tasting room has a history dating back more than 100 years, once the home of the Headquarters Saloon and the site of the shooting death of infamous cowboy Warren Earp. The building’s original frame burnt down in the 1930s, but the floor remains, hand restored by Flying Leap. The fully-renovated facility includes the Flying Leap Tasting Room, with leather sofas facing windows looking out on historic Railroad Park, and the TRUST Art Gallery with a curated collection of local artworks in oil, acrylic, watercolor, metal, and mixed media.
100 N. Railroad Ave., Willcox, AZ 85643, Phone: 520-384-6030
16.Apache Station Wildlife Viewing Area
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The Apache Station Wildlife Area hosts hundreds of visitors each year to witness sandhill cranes and thousands of other migratory birds wintering in the region. Located next to Apache Generating Station near Cochise, the wildlife area sees mammals like bobcat, javelina and deer as well as birds of prey such as the Northern harrier, ferruginous and red-tailed hawks, and bald and golden eagles. Snow geese, mallards and Northern shovelers can also be seen in the winter months. The land is owned and managed by the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, which also sponsors the annual Wings Over Willcox sandhill crane celebration, with tours and workshops open to the public each January.
3525 Highway 191, Cochise, AZ 85606, Phone: 520-586-3631
16 Best Things to Do in Wilcox, Arizona
- Chiricahua National Monument, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
- Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
- Rex Allen Arizona Cowboy Museum, Photo: Rex Allen Arizona Cowboy Museum
- Chiricahua Regional Museum, Photo: Chiricahua Regional Museum
- Zarpara Vineyard, Photo: Courtesy of Thierry RYO - Fotolia.com
- Willcox Playa Wildlife Area, Photo: Courtesy of schankz - Fotolia.com
- Muleshoe Ranch, Photo: Courtesy of romans14 - Fotolia.com
- Coronado Vineyards, Photo: Courtesy of Karen Albers - Fotolia.com
- Apple Annie's Orchard, Photo: Courtesy of jStock - Fotolia.com
- Friends of Marty Robbins Museum, Photo: Friends of Marty Robbins Museum
- Heart of Rocks, Photo: Courtesy of Alexander - Fotolia.com
- Aridus Wines Tasting Room, Photo: Courtesy of andrii kobryn - Fotolia.com
- Willcox Historic Theater, Photo: Courtesy of eugenesergeev - Fotolia.com
- Flying Leap Vineyards, Photo: Courtesy of Klaus Breitkreutz - Fotolia.com
- TRUST Art Gallery - Flying Leap Vineyards, Photo: TRUST Art Gallery - Flying Leap Vineyards
- Apache Station Wildlife Viewing Area, Photo: Courtesy of Brenda Carson - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com