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| Bill and Jule Smith | Trip Reports

2022 Trip Report - On the Trail of Desert History

On the Trail of Desert History

Bill and Julie Smith with Anne and Mike Story

Howdy Desert Explorers! Last Fall while Bill and I were camping in Sierra Vista, Arizona, we found ourselves tracking a bit of western history. Our friends and fellow campers Rose Ann and Mike had a 2009 True West Magazine article that had figured out the location of Wyatt Earp’s famous shootout at Cottonwood Springs. Most of us are familiar with this incident from reading history or viewing the movie Tombstone. Together we were surprised to figure out this shootout location was just across the road from our camping area in the foothills of the Whetstone Mountains! The four of us combined the info in the article with maps of our own, jumped in the jeep and bounced along seven or so miles of rough dirt roads and terrain to find the shootout spot. After several miles of beautiful chaparral, challenging dirt roads, and screeching ‘desert pinstripes’ we reached a point where we had to stop and hike in the rest of the way. We hiked up, down, and through sagebrush, tree lined gullies, and dry grass meadows being very glad it was too cold for rattlesnakes. It is a gorgeous area with high desert plants, rugged mountains, and open range cattle scattered over thousands of acres. After a few miles of hiking we saw Wyatt and The Cowboys’ shootout spot about a quarter mile in the distance – it was so exciting! However, the sun was going down quickly and we didn’t trust ourselves to hike and drive back in the dark in such a desolate area so we turned around. We hiked back and bounced the Jeep all over again, making it to our camp just before dark. Bill and I tried hiking in from another location a few days later and almost made it that way too. We decided we will try to get to the shootout location again but start out EXTRA early next time! ~ Julie

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