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Press: Coloradoan News: Trippin' Travelers Notebook - Jan 2010

Nizhoni Ranch Gallery The COLORADOAN, Wednesday January 6, 2010

Steve Getzwiller is mentioned on the second page of the article, Bob Willlis writes, “Steve Getzwiller whose knowledge and support of Navajo weaving and history is legendary ..."
Thank you Bob!  Appreciate your mentioning us in the Coloradoan “Trippin”.  A great article about traveling around our part of Southeast Arizona!!!
The article is also typed out below for easy reading.


By Bob Willis for the Coloradoan

If you had visited southern Arizona back in the 1880s, you wouldn’t have found the place nearly as hospitable as it is today.

Restless Apaches, armed incursions from Mexico, the rough landscape and summer temperatures that exceeded 115 degrees made life rough around these parts.  Times have changed for the better, and if today you’d like to reenact a modern day version of Cowboys and Indian, this is the place to do it.


Tucson is Arizona’s second-largest city, although it entered the 21st century with a slight hesitance, being somewhat reluctant to shed its Old West Mexican heritage.  The Old Pueblo sits amidst a natural bowl filled with historic sites and attractions and surrounded by five mountain ranges.  It offers a great starting point for a southern Arizona Adventure that’s Chock full of culture, scenery, some bumpy, dirt roads, wilderness campsites, ghostly places and a Desert floor and beneath the ground make sure to put museum on your list as a must-visit.


Due south of Tucson on U.S. Highway 19, don’t overlook the “White Dove of the Desert”.

San Xavier del bac Mission has the distinction of being the oldest Catholic church in America still serving its original congregation.  Founded in 1692 by Father Kino, it is now owned by the Tohono O’odham tribe.  Notice that the mission has but one complete tower.  The Legend has it that levies were not paid to the Spanish government until churches were completed.  As one version of the story goes, it was deliberately left unfinished thereby avoiding the tax.  This is a stunning place to visit and create some memorable photographic images.  Shoppers will enjoy native craft shops situated across from the mission.

Heading southeast from Tucson on US Highway 10, beyond Colossal Cave and the Saguaro National Park, you’ll find yourself in Benson.  Here, the Amerind Foundation museum houses an extensive private collection of Native American and western art, archeology, history and cultural exhibits.  Founded by Connecticut businessman in the 1930s, it has grown into a true desert oasis for lovers of arts, crafts and southwestern artifacts and is well worth a stop.

Nearby, a lesser-known point of interest is the sale gallery of Steve Getzwiller whose knowledge and support of Navajo weaving and history is legendary.  Getzwiller works closely with a number of the best northern Arizona Navajo weavers and has been instrumental in re-introducing the Churro wool that was once a mainstay of native weavers.  Most of the original Churro sheep were wiped out by Kit Carson in his raids in and around Canyon de Chelly.  The Getzwiller collection may be visited by appointment.

Eastbound on US Highway 10 is Willcox, which is most famous for Rex Allen.  It’s only natural that you’ll find the radio and film star’s Cowboy Museum located here along with the Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame.  Historic Railroad Avenue is worth a stroll to see the recently renovated Southern Pacific Depot.  Southeast of town, visit the old Willcox Cemetery where you’ll find the grave of Warren Earp, and brother Wyatt.

Heading south from Willcox, the upgraded road is not named but you’ll find a sign indicating that you’r heading toward the Cochise Stronghold in the Coronado National Forest.  This is spectacular but forbidding land of box canyons, washes, hard trails, cliffs, spires and natural rock fortresses that makes it easy to understand why the legendary Chiricahua Apache chief used these hills for a safe haven.

When he died in 1874, native legend has it that is body in full regalia, his horse, rifle and dog, were dropped into a tight canyon that was kept secret.  Perhaps you’ll feel his spirit as you camp at the Stronghold.  It’s a rugged primitive site with not facilities, so take all the necessary precautions when you visit.

From the camping area, stretch your legs on the rugged three-mile hike to the vista that overlooks the entire region.  As you  hike along, be on the lookout for petroglyphs left behind by early natives and keep a close watch for Apache warriors behind the rock formations and atop the craggy pinnacles.


In 1878/, Ed Schieffelin discovered silver in some of the region’s roughest Apache territory.  He was advised by his fellow prospectors and friends, “The only thing you’ll find out in that place is your own tombstone.”  So, Tombstone it became and was soon home to about 10,000 miners and camp followers.  Two years later when John Clum published his first newspaper in the town, the masthead read the Tombstone Epitaph.  His logic was simply that any town named Tombstone had to have an interesting epitaph.  Over the last 122 years, the Epitaph has lived up to the promise of being interesting.

Some years back while scanning the Epitaph, a classified ad caught my eye. “DOG- German Shepherd. Housebroken. Free to a good home. Will eat anything.  Especially fond of children!”  The classified inspired about a dozen or so good-natured reader (myself included) to offer their children so the dog wouldn’t go hungry.  The letters to the editor column continued the high-spirited fun for a least a month.

The “Town Too Tough To Die” has certainly proved Any Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame wrong since Tombstone’s 20 or 25 seconds of fame has lasted nearly 120 years.  More silver has been extracted from the pockets and purses of tourists than was ever taken from the mines below the city.  Today, it’s home to about 1,500 residents’, down about 90 % from the early 1880s.  The famed Crystal Palace Saloon at Allen and Fifth streets was a favorite watering hole for the debonair Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Doc, Holiday and Johnny Ringo.  While they were tossing down a shot or two, or enjoying a  hot, game of faro, Lillian Russell and Eddie Foy were among the entertaining across the street at the bawdy Birdcage Theater.  Today, the Birdcage is a museum.  You might be challenged to find all 140 bullet holes in the walls and ceilings resulting from more than a dozen gunfights that were pretty much regularly scheduled events during the town’s heyday.

A few streets away at the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park, you’ll find a building full of artifacts and recreated rooms, including a sturdy three-rope gallows in the back courtyard.  Incidentally, that courthouse was constructed in 1882 for a grand total of $43,000.

Boo hill Cemetery lies on a hill outside of town and is home to about 250 folks who fought for their rest.  Some are famous but most were never known and long forgotten. There’s a few soiled doves buried here, some prospectors who contracted rapid consumption, some who contracted rapid lead poisoning, and even one or two who were hanged by mistake.