Once a crucial hub on Old West stagecoach and railroad routes, Benson now serves as a favorite tourist stop along Interstate 10. The town honors its pioneering past with festivals and museums, and visitors can experience desert environments that have remained unchanged since the days before settlers crossed the arid landscape. Highlights include Kartchner Caverns State Park, stunning trails and Old West history.
Nestled in Arizona’s southeast corner, Benson sits close to the borders of Mexico and New Mexico. Tucson, Arizona’s second-largest city, lies 45 miles northwest. The iconic Old West town of Tombstone, just 25 miles southeast of Benson, draws visitors to its gun-fighting past. Benson is popular with snowbirds; winter highs hit the 60s.
Twelve miles south of Benson, recreational opportunities abound above and below ground. At Kartchner Caverns State Park, visitors can explore 2.4 miles of passages that wind through limestone rock and jaw-dropping rock formations. Would-be spelunkers can marvel at cave phenomena like stalagmites and soda-straw stalactites; on the surface, the Foothills Loop Trail leads to the recently completed Ocotillo Trail, home to the colorful namesake desert plant.
Benson’s Untamed Terrain
Ready to hit the trails? Steer your vehicle toward the craggy peaks of the Dragoon Mountains to the east of Benson, home to the Cochise Stronghold. In this rough landscape, the Apache warrior Cochise staged a tenacious guerrilla war against the U.S. armed forces. To the southwest, nature trails thread through Coronado National Forest, with Sonoran grassland, chaparral and pinyon-juniper.
Stagecoaches, TV and Movies
Don’t miss the annual Butterfield Overland Stage Days. Held every October, this festival that celebrates the mythical vehicles that transported passengers across wild lands. The Old West days come to life 13 miles to the north at Gammons Gulch Movie Set, which once served as the backdrop for TV and film Westerns.
For More Information
Benson Visitor Center
Arizona Office of Tourism