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Benson Arizona

 

This crossroads town lies beside Interstate 10 which connects with U.S. 80 and State Route 90. Benson was established as a Butterfield Stage station in 1858, at a crossing of the San Pedro River.

Then, in 1890, the Southern Pacific Railroad laid tracks through the area and Benson became a railroad center, where freight was transferred to the old Atlantic & Pacific Line (now the Santa Fe) to supply the silver and copper towns of southern Arizona. Today, it's a quiet town offering services to travelers who pass through, perhaps staying overnight, on their way to more romantic destinations such as Tombstone and Bisbee.

What to See & Do

There are, however, several reasons to explore the immediate area around Benson -- not the least of which is the Amerind Foundation in Texas Canyon, just 12 miles east of town. The foundation is an archeological museum and research center that preserves artifacts of the early Indian inhabitants of the region.

William Fulton put down roots here, purchasing the FF Ranch in the 1920s. His concept of an Indian museum developed over the next dozen years as he wrote scholarly articles on his field work in and around Texas Canyon. From 1937, the museum and its outbuildings took shape. The canyon itself is worth the short drive from Benson along I-10 to the Dragoon turnoff (# 318). The museum is 1 mile east of the junction. It is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm and an entrance fee is charged (520-586-3666).

The local arts and history museum is at 180 South San Pedro Street, containing displays of settlers and early cultures. The museum's gift shop stocks the work of local artists and craftspeople, including ceramic pieces and paintings. It is open Thursday through Saturday (520-586-3070).

Cochise's Stronghold, the historic site in the Coronado National Forest, provides a fascinating day-trip from Benson. This is the rocky fortress where the great chief and his followers held out against the U.S. Cavalry and the drive provides some fine scenery in addition to the historical experience. To get there, take I-10 east from town, exiting at the Dragoon exit (Texas Canyon). Drive east for 13 miles until you get to U.S. 666 and turn south (right), driving for another 6 miles. Turn west and drive into the national forest.

 

Where to Stay -- Hotel Guide

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Benson Arizona

Holiday Inn Express

630 S. Village Loop, Benson, AZ 85602
(520) 586-8800 or (toll free) 888-263-2283
This is a new property, opened in June 1998, with 62 rooms, including 2 suites and a view room with jacuzzi. Room features include queen or king beds, microwaves, refrigerators, and coffeemakers. Hotel amenities include an exercise room, heated pool, conversation pit, laundry, business center, and a complimentary extended breakfast bar. ($ to $$)

Quail Hollow Inn

P.O. Box 2107, Benson AZ 85602
(520) 586-3646
This Best Western operation offers good accommodations with reasonable prices. The motel has a heated pool, whirlpool and laundry. There's a restaurant nearby. Some rooms have showers and refrigerators ($).

Benson Camping

Chief Four Feathers KOA campground has more than 80 sites; most with hookups, with a few sites set aside for tenting. There are many-pull throughs. Cabins are available, plus a dump station, laundry, store, pool, recreation room, playground, and propane. It's located one mile north of I-10, take the Ocotillo Road exit (#304).

The Red Barn Campground is also north of I-10 on Ocotillo Road. With grassy tent sites and RV spaces, the park also has a store, laundry, and propane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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