When you visit the greater Sierra Vista area, you walk in the footsteps of warriors, villains, legends and folklore heroes. This region of Southeast Arizona is home to the fierce Buffalo Soldiers, to Indian chiefs Geronimo and Cochise, and to gunslingers Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. These are just a few of the reasons why tourism has become a multi-million-dollar industry for Sierra Vista. There is so much to see and do here.
From January through November 2010, accommodation receipts in Sierra Vista were up 10.3 percent from the same period the year prior, after adjusting for inflation. The strong performance has been driven by the recent opening of several new hotels in the city, which reduces business leakage to surrounding communities, as well as increased activity at Fort Huachuca. The fort’s Empire Challenge training exercise in July and August 2010 boosted sales in those months by 18 and 49.5 percent, respectively. It is anticipated the exercise will be held at Fort Huachuca in future years, providing a continued boost to the city’s accommodation sales.
Sierra Vista, which is Spanish for “Mountain View,” lies at the center of what is regarded as the most biologically diverse area in the United States. Known as the hummingbird capital of America, Sierra Vista has abundant wildlife, which draws tourists, especially bird watchers, from across the globe.
At the foot of the beautiful Huachuca Mountains is Ramsey Canyon, operated by the Nature Conservancy. Here visitors can observe up to 14 species of hummingbirds as well as hundreds of other birds, mammals, reptiles and plant life. The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area is also home to 350 species of migrating and breeding birds, and nature lovers can enjoy around 40 miles of riverbank along the San Pedro River.
Just 19 miles north of Sierra Vista, on State Route 90, is Kartchner Caverns State Park, discovered in 1974. The site was purchased by the state and named for the family on whose land it was found. It is a subterranean jewel box that has taken millions of years to form and is one of only a handful of “living” caves in the world.
Visitors can also experience the life of a soldier in the late 1800s, including the famous Buffalo Soldiers, at historic Fort Huachuca, established in 1877.
Excellent museums, both on the military post and in the Ethel Berger Center in town, give a taste of what life was really like in the “Wild West” for soldiers and civilians alike.Access to Fort Huachuca
Fort Huachuca is an active military installation. Visitor passes are available at the front gate with a driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of vehicle insurance or rental agreement. All passengers 18 and older must also have photo IDs.
Fort Huachuca is occasionally closed due to maneuvers. Current U.S. Army regulation stipulates that all U.S. citizens with proper identification and documentation may visit the fort. However, international visitors are not permitted access, unless they are sponsored and escorted by authorized personnel.