Dragoon Mountains--Council Rocks

About this Location

As you head north on FS 687, the western side of Cochise Stronghold stands imposingly on your right. Imagine that, in 1869, you are a member of the U.S. Cavalry stationed at Fort Bowie. A band of Chiricahua Apaches, perhaps 30 well-armed warriors, had that morning raided a nearby ranch, killed the rancher, his wife, and two ranch hands, and took two young children captive. Your company has chased the renegades to this place and the Indians have disappeared among the boulders.

Note: Mileages are approximate.

Directions: From Tucson, go east on Interstate 10 for 45 miles to Benson. In Benson, go south on State Route 80 for 22 miles to Middlemarch Road, which begins about a mile north of Tombstone. Turn left onto Middlemarch Road and continue 10 miles to Forest Road 687. Continue on FR 687 for 6.5 miles to Forest Road 687K, turn right, and continue 0.25 miles to the small parking lot.  
Vehicle Requirements: A high-clearance vehicle is recommended. Forest Road 687 can become rough and rutted following heavy rain.
Warning: Back-road travel can be hazardous, so be aware of weather and road conditions. Carry plenty of water. Don’t travel alone, and let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
Information: Douglas Ranger District, 520-364-3468 or www.fs.usda.gov/coronado

About Cochise Stronghold

See all hotspots at Cochise Stronghold

Cochise Stronghold is located to the west of Sunsites, Arizona in the Dragoon Mountains at an elevation of 5,000 ft. This beautiful woodland area lies in a protective rampart of granite domes and sheer cliffs which were once the refuge of the great Apache Chief, Cochise, and his people. Located within the Coronado National Forest it is managed by the Douglas Ranger District. In Sunsites, AZ, take Ironwood Road (off AZ-191) west 9.1 miles to the campground entrance. Once inside the Forest, Ironwood Road becomes FR-84. NOTE: After, 3.8 miles, Ironwood Road (and FR-84) becomes a rough, rocky dirt road. There are five stream crossings on FR-84 that can be forded if not wet weather.

Notable Trails

From the Council Rocks parking area a short but steep trail clambers into a cluster of house-sized boulders and shallow caves. Ancient footholds carved into the rocks offer assistance today, just as they did decades ago. Evidence of fire pits and metates, where corn was ground, can be found.

Dozens of pictographs adorn boulders and overhangs. Archaeologists believe the original pictographs were created by the Mogollon people nearly 1,000 years ago and were later augmented by the Apaches.

Little has been changed by the passage of time. Views are still endless, stretching for miles across the deep-grass valley. A soothing quiet settles, and it’s easy to drift between eras. This is still the West, still the frontier. Standing watch amid the granite bones, don’t be surprised to find yourself staying alert and vigilant, scanning the horizon for dust clouds. After all, it could be the cavalry.

Content from Council Rocks webpage, The Route to Council Rocks, Arizona Highways, and Cochise Stronghold website