Southeast Arizona Vacation Spot

Looking For A Southeast Arizona Vacation Spot – It Doesn’t Stop At The Tucson City Limits

Tombstone re enactors

Tombstone has a cast and crew of cowboys walking the streets during operating hours. Special weekends have gun fights and other special events.

Many people looking for a Southeast Arizona vacation spot stop looking when they find Tucson. But there is much more to see a short distance east on the interstate when you look at Cochise County. Just an hour from the Tucson airport is a part of Arizona that contained the historic “Old West”. Tombstone, with the OK Corral gun fight fame, Fort Bowie where the Apache Indian Wars started and Fort Huachuca, home of the Buffalo Soldiers are just a few of the historical sites to see. The natural beauty of the mountains that soar to over 10,000 feet, Kartchner Caverns, a living cave, and the last free flowing river in Arizona are just a few of the spectacular nature sites you can visit.

southeat arizona vacation destination picture

Gammon’s Gulch is a working movie set and museum located north of Benson.

If you think that Tucson is the only movie studio you can visit on your Southeast Arizona vacation, guess what? There is another you can visit. North of Benson is Gammon’s Gulch. It is a movie studio that is still being used by production companies. Jay Gammon’s is host when you visit the set and he will regale you many stories about what has been done there. Many of Jay’s props were used in the move Tombstone. The HBO series Deadmen has used this set. Different films have been made in this part of Southeastern Arizona and Jay can tell you about them.

There are many historical events that happened in Cochise County. Coronado National Memorial is near the Mexican border and provides information on Coronado’s 1540 entry into this part of the US. The Butterfield Stage Line entered Arizona near Fort Bowie and ran through Benson on its way to California. Parts of the old stage road can still be found. This part of Arizona was part of the Gadsden Purchase. Old mining ghost towns dot the county and many ruins are still standing.

Chiricahua National Monument PictureBut this Southeast Arizona vacation spot has more to offer than just historical locales. The unfettered natural beauty can be found throughout the area. Chiricahua National Monument is an area with features similar to Bryce Canyon in Utah. Erosion has carved pinnacles, spires and created balance rocks throughout the park. The Dragoon Mountains is the lair of the great Apache Chief Cochise and contains Cochise Stronghold. The Whetstone Mountains contains Kartchner Caverns, which is probably the most pristine cavern in the states.  But the jewel of Cochise County is the San Pedro River. This river provides food and water for the migratory birds. It is one of the 5 best birding areas in the US.

So if you are looking for a Southeast Arizona vacation spot that has many different things to see and do, consider Cochise County. You can even stop by an Arizona winery for a little tasting and purchase if you wish. A majority of the wine grapes grown in the Arizona are from the vineyards here in Cochise County. Another great advantage is that peace and quiet that can’t be found in the city to the west. Nor can you find the dark skies for star gazing that is here in Cochise County. At Down By The River B and B, we have developed a list of things to do in the area. If you would like to see what there is to do in this Southern Arizona vacation spot, click here to view it.

Southeast Arizona Vacation Destination Lodging

Down By The River B and B “The Lodging Hub of Cochise County” awaits you.

Arizona Winter Birding

Arizona Winter Birding – Cochise County has it all

Ducks in Flight Picture

Northern Shoveler taking flight at Twin Lakes Birding Area

Arizona winter birding is a treat for many Midwestern and Canadian travelers escaping the snow and cold weather of their hometowns. But the question is where to go. Well southern Arizona comes to mind. The northern area of the state offers higher elevations and you will find snow and colder weather. This isn’t necessarily good for finding birds but it is great for snow pictures of the Grand Canyon and Sedona red rock country.

The southern part of the state is much better for an Arizona winter birding experience. In fact there are a lot of birds that winter in the southeastern part of Arizona. There are also birds that live in this part of the state all year around. With the autumn migration season over at this point, many birders are making plans for visiting during the spring migration. But there are winter birders that want to go to a warmer area of the country and still see birds.

The birding in Cochise County is always fun to do and this is one of the 5 best birding areas in the US. There is a great festival that is held in January in the town of Willcox, Arizona. It is called Wings Over Willcox and the festival runs from January 14 thru the 18, 2015. During this time period, there are many activities and tours that you can participate in while enjoying the outdoors. This link will take you to the planned activities.

Sand Hill Cranes Returning Picture

When the Sand Hill Cranes arrive they come in waves.

One more of my favorite things to do in Cochise County is to head for White Water Draw to see the San Hill Cranes as the birds return from feeding. The San Hill Cranes winter in this part of Arizona. I wrote a blog on this almost 2 years ago. Along with the cranes are other water birds, including Snow Geese, Loons and a variety of ducks that share the lake system at White Water Draw.

Water Foul Picture

Ducks And Other Water Foul Fill One Of The Ponds

Another Arizona winter birding location is along the San Pedro River where the resident birds can be found foraging in the brush along the river. The San Pedro House has a great trail system that is part of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. The NCA runs from the Mexican border to just south of St. David, Arizona. At the northern end of the NCA, you will find the highly rated Down By The River B and B with easy access to all parts of Cochise County and the Arizona winter birding hot spots. So start planning your Arizona winter birding get away right now and investigate what is offered at our b and b.

Arizona winter birding lodging

Down By The River is the perfect lodging for the Arizona winter birding enthusiast.

San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area

San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area – A Birders Wonderland.

Birding the San Pedro House trail

Birding the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area is accessed from few locations. One location is the San Pedro House where trails give easy access  to the river..

The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (NCA) encompasses over 56,000 acres is managed by the BLM. The riparian area is located in Cochise County, Arizona. The NCA extends from the Mexican border to Saint David, 40 miles to the north. The San Pedro River meanders northward through the NCA providing water, forage. There are more than 80 species of mammals, including recently a Jaguar. Nearly 400 species of birds can be spotted. There are about 250 birds that migrate through the area in spring and fall or nest here in the winter. There are also more than 40 reptiles and amphibians that can be found in the preserve.

Ladderback Woodpecker in the nest at the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area photo

Birds can be found nesting along the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.

The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area was set aside by law on November 18, 1988 to preserve the vanishing desert riparian ecosystem. This type of ecosystem was extensively found in the Southwest prior to Arizona becoming a state. The NCA is one of the few locations in the southwest that still has a continuously flowing river system. The San Pedro River is the only river in Arizona that is still free flowing. The center of the NCA is located at the San Pedro House. I have written about this site in a previous blog and you can follow this link to read about it.

The area is believed to have been inhabited about 13,000 years ago. A mammoth kill site and a Clovis site can be found in the NCA. In addition to these sites, there are ruins of an old Spanish Presidio, Santa Cruz de Terrenante, established in 1776. During the mining rush, the San Pedro River was a site of mills and towns. These old ghost towns are now part of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area and many are accessible from trails along the river..

Cochise County Bird Photography example

The Norther most range for the Gray Hawk is the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. They can be seen in Saint David during the summer.

These days the San Pedro River draws naturalists, bird watchers and people that love explore the sites along the river.  With the great variety of birds, the birders come to the area to fill in those elusive birds on their life list. The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area is the northern most range for some birds from Central America during the summers breeding season.

Being an NCA, there are few locations that have lodging available along the San Pedro River. Down By The River is the only b and b that is located at the north end of the NCA. The river is easily accessible from the b and b and the patio faces the tree lined San Pedro River. We are centrally located and provide easy access for day trips to many of the birding hotspots or other historical sites in Cochise County. Look us over and try us out.

Cochise County Birding

Cochise County Birding- Best in the West but I’m Prejudiced

Goldfinch feeder picture

Goldfinches flock to the feeders at Down By The River B and B.

In Cochise County birding is a major tourist attraction. The county and in particular, the San Pedro River Riparian area is one of the 5 main flyways that is used by birds during their migration from north to south and visa versa. While there are birds that spend all the time in this area, there are many that spend the winters here. In previous blogs I have written about the San Hill Cranes that spend the winter at the Willcox Playa and also at White Water Draw.

The Cochise County birding migration takes place during the months of September and October for the birds that are heading south. The birds return in March and April as they head north to find mates. Last year the migration was finished by early October. This year we had the Rufous Hummingbirds here at the end of August. There have been many birds that are here in mid and late September. It could be that the birds are heading south in greater numbers because they know that winter is coming early. Time will tell.

Cochise County birding picture

Cochise County birding migration always has the Rufous Hummingbird showing up and taking over the feeders for a couple of weeks.

With up to 400 different species that can be found on Cochise County birding lists, it is a small wonder why there are so many bird watchers that frequent the area at all time of the year. Migration times do provide the best times to sight birds, but summer and winter also provide many opportunities to ply your skills at finding and identifying that elusive bird.  In fact summer time can be the perfect time for Cochise County birding because that is the time when the birds are on the nest. We have been informed that this part of the San Pedro River is a nesting area for the Black Throated Hummingbirds, Gray Hawks and also some Mississippi Kites.

Cochise County Bird Photography example

Lady Luck allowed me to spot this Gray Hawk and take a photograph of him before he took flight.

There are sites that will give you some forecasts of the birds that will be migrating. Here is a link to one.  But don’t take my word for it. We had one guest here in April spot 53 birds from the property and while walking in the river bed to the east of the house. Here viewing effort started our list of birds that were seen here at the B and B. Make plans to head to The San Pedro River Valley and spend time at Down By The River B and B to experience Cochise County Birding at its best.

Cochise County October Events

Cochise County October Events

Cochise County October events provide something for the entire family in all parts of the county. Events are held in Willcox,Tombstone and Benson. The Tombstone and Benson events here in Southeastern Arizona during October have been detailed in my last two blogs. Willcox offers more events that help to fill up the October calendar. There are two events that take place in Willcox. One is Rex Allen Days and the other is the Willcox Wine Country Festival.

Rex Allen Days – Great Family Fun

Rex Allen Museum Cowboy Hall of Fame Picture

The Rex Allen Museum also houses the Cowboy Hall of Fame.

This year Willcox will celebrate the 63 rd Annual Rex Allen Days from October 2 through October 5. This Cochise County October event starts off with the Cowboy Hall of Fame Awards on October 2. This Hall of Fame is directed toward the real cattlemen and women that spent their lives working the ranches and raising cattle herds in Cochise County. The Museum tells the story of these men and women, their accomplishments and hard work in the cattle industry.

cochise county October event

The Rex Allen Days Rodeo is a fun filled action packed 2 day event.

On the October 3rd, the celebration starts off with a parade. There are many activities including two days of rodeo events, a carnival, a tractor pull and in the evening there is entertainment for everyone to enjoy. The Rodeo is the weekend before the rodeo in Benson so if you do both you may see some of the same riders. The Rex Allen museum is open during this time and a visit there will give you a background history of who Rex Allen was. You can find more information on the Rex Allen Museum from a previous blog.

The Willcox Wine Country Festival – a Cochise County October Event Tradition

Last year we had a blog about the Willcox Wine Country Festival and how we went there to find some wines that we would have in our Wine Challenge at the River. The Challenge was fun and an Arizona Wine actually won the competition. This year The wine festival in Willcox is being held on October 18 and 19. This is the same weekend as Helldorado Days in Tombstone so it is a chance for people to do two Cochise County October events on the same weekend.

Willcox Wine Festival Picture a Cochise county October event.The festival is held at Railroad Park in downtown Willcox across the street from the Rex Allen Museum. For a fee of $15, you get a commemorative glass and 6 tickets to use for wine tasting. Angie and I usually will share a tasting so that we can have 12 different wines using our tickets. Additional tickets are available and generally wine club members of a winery at the event get the tastings free.  This year there will be an offering of over 70 different wines from several Arizona wineries that grow their grapes in the Willcox area.   At this festival there is a special Movie Screening and introduction by Sam Pillsbury at Willcox Historic Theater across from the park.

For more information on the wine festival, click on this link. When you look for lodging for these events check us out at Down By The River to see how we are centrally located to all the Cochise County October Events. Hope to see you soon.

 

Southeastern Arizona October Events

Southeastern Arizona October Events Are For The Whole Family

Southeastern Arizona October Events are many and varied. I wrote about some in my last blog. That blog had to do with events in Tombstone but that isn’t all that is the only events in Cochise County during October. There are other Southeastern Arizona October events going on in Benson with Butterfield Stage Days and the Butterfield Rodeo and in Willcox with Rex Allen Days and the Willcox Fall Wine Festival

Benson Butterfield Stage Days

Southeastern Arizona October Event Enactors picture

There are many talented people that participate in Southeastern Arizona October Events.

Benson’s Butterfield Stage Days commemorates the Butterfield Stage route that came through the Benson area in the late 1850s. It has been 155 years since the Stage Route was started. This is some great family fun to be had during the weekend.

Southeastern Arizona October Event Parade Picture

The Butterfield Stage Days parade is open to anyone that wishes to participate.

On October 10 and 11, 2014 the festivities start off with a parade through the streets of Benson. This year’s theme is “San Pedro Valley Education – 100+ years and counting.” Last year the Benson School District was rated the best in the State of Arizona. There are vendor booths set up around the Benson Museum and if like previous years there are members of the Buffalo Soldiers Renactors Group that have a display.

There is also a Pony Express group that takes commemorative envelopes that are sold to visitors and delivers the mail to the Dragoon Post Office. Although the Pony Express never came through Benson it was determined that this activity would lend some Old West spirit to the festival.

Pony Express Riders for Southeastern Arizona October Events.

The Pony Express Riders are volunteers and carry commemorative mail to the Post Office in Dragoon.

After the end of the Rodeo completion on Saturday, There are fireworks in Lions Park. This is always a great time to sit back and enjoy the fireworks. This has been a tradition for many years.

On Sunday, the Butterfield Stage Days ends but not before the judging of the car show is done. This show has not be held for 2 years but in the past it has drawn a number of old beauties and is worth the time to see the entries.

Butterfield Rodeo

The Rodeo is a two day event that is held and the Arena Bar in Benson. The Arena has been the host of the Rodeo for many years. The facilities are nice and there is a lot of parking available. Besides the  adult rodeo there is also rodeo events for children. This can be a lot of fun to watch with youngsters are out there trying their skills. For more information click on the City of Benson Link.

Southeastern Arizona October events rodeo picture

Visit our website at Down By The River B and B if you are planning to take in any of these Southeastern Arizona October Events.

Tombstone October Events

Tombstone October Events Are A Must See And Do At Least Once.

Tombstone re enactors

Tombstone has a cast and crew of cowboys walking the streets during operating hours. Special weekends have gun fights and other special events.

Tombstone October Events are just right for that person that would like to see an Old West spectacular celebration. Dodge City and Deadwood have celebrations but in my opinion the best time to get the most out of your “Old West” experience is to head for Tombstone. The Tombstone October events week starts off with the Wyatt Earp Vendetta Ride and culminates with the second event, Helldorado Days.

The Vendetta Ride is a historic five day ride on horseback to many sites where Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and his posse rode as they chased down and had shootouts with the “Cowboys”. The Cowboys were associates of the Clantons, known rustlers and killers. The horseback ride is mainly in Cochise County and you will visit sites where Curly Bill Brocius, Johnny Barnes and Johnny Ringo were killed. The rides start at a different place each day and you will be transported to the starting point for that days ride. Three meals a day are provided. To get more information, click on the link to Great American Ventures for this part of the Tombstone October Events. This year the event is held from October 12 to the 17,  2014.

Tombstone October events Vendetta Riders Picture

Smile when you say that!

The second of the Tombstone October events starts just after the Vendetta Ride concludes. The 85 th annual Helldorado Days is held on October 17 to 19, 2014.  This is the premiere festival held in Tombstone. Where does the word Helldorado come from? Well according to some Tombstone aficionados it comes from an old miner who complained about his experience. He wrote  into the Tombstone Nugget Newspaper that most of the miners that came to find their El Dorado ended up doing menial jobs like washing dishes and only found Helldorado.

Tombstones Helldorado days takes its name from this miner’s grievance. Helldorado Days is the longest running event in Tombstone. It started in 1929, the year Wyatt Earp died. I don’t know if that was a coincidence or not. Each year this Tombstone October Event is held on the third weekend in October and is sponsored by Helldorado Inc.  If you can’t make the festivities this year keep that third weekend in mind for another time.

This year the Helldorado Days event will include a raffle for an 1851 Sheriff Brass 44 cal Black Power Revolver. The drawing will be held on Sunday the 19 th at 4 PM. Other event activities include a parade, entertainment by various cowboy re enactors during the festivities, a beard and mustache contest and of course, the famous Walk Down to the OK Corral. There will be many people that show up in the period dress who are not part of the entertainment. It is always a fund time and you will be able to get some great photographs during these Tombstone October events.

Staged gunfight during Tombtone October Events

The gunfight at the OK Corral is staged every day in Tombstone

Lodging for visitors usually fills up fast. It is not unheard of hotels, motels and b and b having no occupancy 3 or 4 weeks out prior to the Helldorado Days festival. We have had many people stay at our B and B and head to Tombstone dressed to the nines for their day of fun. Down By The River B and B is located outside of Tombstone in St. David. We are a 20 minute drive to the “Town Too Tough To Die”. Check us out and see what we have to offer as an upscale location near Tombstone.

Apple Pancakes With Apple Syrup

Apple Pancakes With Apple Syrup – A Special Taste Treat

Apple pancakes with apple syrup and egg cup picture

One of our staple dishes is the egg cup and we serve it with many different sides. This is with apple pancakes.

Apple pancakes with apple syrup is a special taste treat at Down By The River B and B. When we serve our egg cups or breakfast bake we have a side dish to go with the main dish. Sometimes it is peach pancakes or one of our French toast creations. With the apples ripening at Apple Annie’s Orchard, we make our Apple pancakes with apple syrup so that our guests get some fresh apple taste in the morning.

While you could use just Bisquick or other box mix for your pancakes we add a little more to ours. We use a pancake mix but add wheat germ and flax seed along with an egg to add a little more flavor and heartiness to the pancakes. We also have a griddle that will cook 8 – 6 inch pancakes at a time. So here is the recipe for the apple pancakes with apple syrup.

Cooking apple pancakes with apple syrup picture

Cooking apple pancakes on our large skillet is helpful when we have a full table for breakfast.

Pancake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pancake mix
  • ¼ cup flax seed
  • ¼ cup wheat germ
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ Tsp nutmeg
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups water (approximately judge for yourself on the thickness you desire.)
  • Half apple cored and chopped.

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together and have no lumps. Use a ¼ cup of batter to make each pancake.

Makes about 8 pancakes

Apple Syrup Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ Tsp nutmeg
  • ½ stick butter
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • ½ Tbsp lemon juice

Directions

  • Mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg in pan.
  • Stir in apple juice and lemon juice till smooth
  • Heat to boiling stir constantly
  • Boil 1 minute
  • Blend in butter
  • Serve warm with pancakes.

If there aren’t two people working this then you can do the syrup and set aside. Pour into a serving dish and prior to serving the pancakes put the serving dish in boiling water in a pan and heat it up to a warmer temp. The extra can be preserved in a canning jar.

Apple Pancakes with Apple Syrup picture

Pouring the apple syrup on the apple pancakes is the start of the taste sensation during breakfast at Down By The River B and B.

Peach Smoothie Recipe

Peach Smoothie Recipe is a hit a Down By The River B and B

Peach smoothie recipe picture

Gather all the ingredients that you will use for the peach smoothie.

Our peach smoothie recipe is a blast of flavor that we serve our guests at Down By The River B and B. We have a secret ingredient and which is fresh peaches. We always pick the peaches that we use in our peach smoothies. We don’t purchase store bought peaches because they never have been picked ripe. Most store bought peaches are picked green and shipped in cold storage. Even when you let them ripen on the counter they never achieve the wonderful flavor which you find with fresh peaches. As Angie would say “There flavor is a party in your mouth”. Many of our guests have never picked a peach off a tree and they don’t know how intense the flavor can be.

pouring peach smoothie recipe picture

Pouring the peach smoothie into a glass for the guests

In a previous blog ‎ I told about how we plan our day when we go peach picking and then the process that we go through to prepare the peaches for future use in smoothies and in our peach pancakes. It is a long day but at the end we will have enough peaches processed to get us through the winter season. Ah but I am starting to go astray. So here is our recipe for peach smoothies. A word of warning, we us a heavy duty bar blender when making our smoothies because we work with frozen ingredients. If you have a light blender make sure your ingredients are defrosted.

Down By The River B and B

Peach Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces          Frozen Peaches cut into chunks or slices
  • 1 – 6 ounce      Peach yogurt
  • 16 ounces        Peach juice

 

Directions

  • In a blender place yogurt, peaches, and peach juice
  • Blend the mixture until smooth
  • Pour into glasses

Peach smoothie recipe pictue

Peach smoothie recipe complete and ready to serve to the guests.

As an alternate to this recipe to give it a twist, added 3 ounces of fresh raspberries to the mixture to add a little tartness and reddish color to the smoothie.

Serves 2 to 3

Picking Fruit In Willcox

Picking fruit in Willcox is an all day process at Down By The River B and B.

Sign at Entrance

Sign at the entrance to Apple Annie’s

Picking fruit in Willcox is one of the fun things we do, that could be considered work, for our guests to enjoy when come to Down By The River B and B. When we have the slower time of the year, picking fruit in Willcox just fits right into the routine. Picking apples for our apple pancakes is not a high priority with us because we can get good apples at the store. What is the priority is the peaches. We have dishes that we serve with peaches that require us to get peaches that are fresh and ripe. Peaches you find in the store usually don’t have the flavor of tree ripened peaches. Our guests love the real peach taste and many have not had a tree ripened peach.

Asian Pear picture

Picking fruit in Willcox offers a wide range of types to choose. Apples, pears and peaches are growing in the orchards.

When we are picking fruit in Willcox, we have never been disappointed with stopping at Apple Annie’s Orchard.  We usually leave by 7 so that we can get the fruit picked and be on our way back home before it gets too hot and steamy. Luckily for us there was fog in Willcox and so we were kept out of the sun most of the time. This year the fruit has ripened a couple of weeks earlier than normal. Mainly because of the warm winter and early spring, the trees blossomed earlier. We missed getting to harvest the Hale Peaches that we so enjoy. Instead we settled for the O’Henry Peaches which stays harder even though it is ripe.

46 pounds later we had our peaches picked. After the peaches we found the Asian Pears and picked 15 pounds of them. The fruit was perfect for us and was easily picked without the need of ladders or fruit picker devices. When picking fruit in Willcox, we have found it best to go during the week and not on the weekend. You don’t have to fight the crowds and you can pick a choose fruit better. Apple Annie’s also provides a picking calendar on their website to let you know the times to pick fruit. After paying for our fruit we decided to skip the fudge shop and also not to stop for apple pie that was coming fresh out of the oven. Yes there is more at Apple Annie’s than just going and picking fruit in Willcox.

Picking fruit in Willcox picture

Two buckets of peaches and a half bucket of Asian Pears picked in 30 minutes.

After we got back home the work begins. We wash the fruit and then start sorting by size. The larger peaches get cut into rings for our peach pancakes that we serve. A link to our recipe is here.  The smaller peaches and remnants of the rings are cut up into chunks for use in our Peach Smoothies. Of course once in a while some small piece needs to be sampled to make sure it is sweet enough to be used for our breakfasts at Down By The River B and B. It is all part of the “Quality Control”. Book a room with us and find out what breakfast is all about here in St. David.

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