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2020 - Trip Reports - Jeeping in Southeastern Arizona

Jeeping in Southeastern Arizona

by Ellen Miller

I’ve been hanging out in Benson Arizona this winter which extended way into summer due to the Covid-19. The RV park I’m at has a Jeep group, with Rubicons and other small 4WD vehicles, which goes out usually once a week in the surrounding areas. Once they learned I know how to drive 4WD roads in my Tacoma, thank you Nelson, I was good to drive most any of the trips. On occasion the leaders have decided my much longer wheel base won’t make it and I have gone with someone in their Jeep. However, they have also determined my Tacoma is good for hauling back saguaro ribs and other items for placement in the park.

We have explored a number of the ghost towns and mines around the Tombstone area. Sometimes easy drives and other times over more challenging and narrow roads. 

One day we went to Council Rocks in the Dragoon Mountains which is on the National Register of Historic Places. This may have been the location Cochise finally made peace with the Americans in 1872. This was definitely a meeting place for the Apache as the pictographs and mortar holes indicate. The huge boulders creating several shelter locations were awesome to see and explore.

Another day included a stop at the Dragoon Springs stage station on the Overland Mail route between San Antonio and San Diego, also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This was only one of the 200 stations along the 2700 mile route. This section of the route was frequently referred to as the ‘Jackass Mail’ due to mules being used to pull the coaches and passengers were at times packed on mule back in crossing the deserts. Construction on the station began in 1858. Mail service along this route ended in 1861 due tothe Civil War. A lot of work went into setting up and constructing this route for a rather short time for using the route. There were several Confederate graves at this location as well from a battle between Confederate troops and Apaches in 1862. A fun stop to explore.

Yet another trip was to Aravaipa Canyon from the east. This included a drive into the canyon crossing the creek several times. As this was in the early spring we enjoyed all the new spring green. Lunch and our turnaround point was at Turkey Creek Cliff Dwelling,a nice Salado ruin from the 1300s.

I’ve been fortunate to join up with this fun group while in Benson and look forward to many more trips with them.

                               ~ Ellen