Explore a desert region forged by the Old West
Like a mirage, the city of Benson glimmers in the rugged terrain of southeastern Arizona. In the distance, the Dragoon and Whetstone mountains rise high above the desert plains, with their dark silhouettes framed by the blue skies. Long before this town was a stopover off of Interstate 10 between El Paso and Tucson, it was a railhead for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Further back in its history, stagecoaches stopped here as part of the Butterfield Overland Mail Trail.This warm-weather spot welcomes visitors year-round. Here are some highlights:
Below the Surface
Below the beautiful desert landscapes awaits an entirely different type of splendor: voluminous caverns full of sparkling stalactites and travertine formations. Just 25 miles south of town, Kartchner Caverns State Park offers tours to fantastic subterranean chambers.
Into the Past
Benson’s role as a transportation hub in the 1800s can be explored with a stop at a replica of the old train depot that serves as the town’s visitor center. The past comes to life when Stagecoaches traverse the streets during the annual Butterfield Overland Stage Days Festival held each October.
Arizona’s celluloid roots can also be explored with a visit to the nearby Gammons Gulch Movie Set and Museum. Don’t be surprised if the storefronts and wooden sidewalks seem familiar; the complex served as the set for countless TV shows and movies, and today, visitors can learn about the famous stars and directors who once stalked these grounds.
On the Trails
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. To the southeast, a number of nature trails thread through Coronado National Forest, a wonderland of Sonoran grassland, chaparral and pinyon-juniper woodland.
After night falls, an equally spectacular tableau unfolds in the dark skies. Observe the dense star constellations that shine overhead and appear close enough to touch with your hand.
For More Information
Benson Visitor Center
Arizona Office of Tourism