DescriptionWillcox grew from a small cow town into one of the country's major cattle-shipping centers. In days past the large cattle ranches in the surrounding hills and valleys were notorious as refuges for fugitive gunslingers, who often brought their business to town: Wyatt Earp's brother Warren was killed at Headquarters Saloon in 1900. Saloons and other buildings from the late 1800s can be seen in or near the historic district, bounded by Railroad and Haskell avenues and Maley and Stewart streets.
Rex Allen was born and raised in Willcox. Tributes to the cowboy actor include the Rex Allen Arizona Cowboy Museum and Cowboy Hall of Fame on Railroad Avenue and a bronze statue in a park across from the museum. A bronze heart embedded in the statue at Allen's request represents his enduring love for his hometown. The Friends of Marty Robbins Museum has joined Rex Allen on Railroad Avenue and pays tribute to the late singer/actor.
Cattle raising is still important, but added to the contemporary economic mix are the cultivation of apples, peaches, pistachios, onions and tomatoes. At a variety of “U-pick” farms northwest via Fort Grant Road, visitors can pluck fresh produce straight from the orchards and fields July through October.
Thanks to its high desert climate, Willcox also is known for its vineyards, which produce Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon among several other grape varieties. Maps for a self-guiding wine country tour are available at the Willcox Regional Visitor Center.
Birding is a popular diversion in Sulphur Springs Valley, a mecca for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds as well as wintering raptors. Sandhill cranes arrive in October and stay through February.
Southeast of town at Apache Pass is the isolated Fort Bowie National Historic Site. The fort was built in 1862 to guard the Butterfield Overland Trail and to protect pioneers from Apache raids and skirmishes with Native Americans led by Cochise and Geronimo. The site can only be reached by traveling the last 1.5 miles on foot. The high elevation and temperature extremes might make this hike unsuitable for some. Water is available at the fort, but hikers should bring their own canteen. Beware of flash floods, mountain lions and rattlesnakes. All historic items and natural features are strictly protected; metal detectors, digging tools, guns and hunting are prohibited. Phone (520) 847-2500.
Visitor InfoWillcox Regional Visitor Center and Chamber of Commerce 1500 N. Circle I Rd. WILLCOX, AZ 85643. Phone:(520)384-2272 or (800)200-2272
Self-guiding toursBrochures for a self-guiding walking tour of the historic district and a self-guiding tour of the surrounding wine country are available from the visitor center.
Things to SeeChiricahua Regional Museum