Built on legend and myth of a world gone by, Tombstone is a town of Hollywood fame. But just across the desert from its dusty wooden walks lies a lesser-known area of lore....
I'm thankful for the Subaru's all-wheel drive as we bounce down the dusty dirt road and over the dry rocky washes, tires whining on metal cattle guards. The scarce green of the low-growing scrub around us yields sweeping scapes of the towering rocks ahead. Across the seemingly endless desert, the distant mountain range slowly grows larger until individual areas become apparent.
The shapes descend upon us, looming as we approach: in the distance, the massive, tawny twin lobes of Rockfellow Domes, smooth and dramatic at a height of 600', and the aptly named Whale Dome, lunging 800' from the ground. Winding in amongst the rocky outcroppings into the folds of the range, we come upon the speckled green of Sheepshead Dome and Isle of Ewe, and the dry, cracked face of Warpath Dome.
Each one of these might take a seasoned pair of rock climbers the better part of the day, especially with an hour or more just to hike to the elevated base of these monoliths. Between the mazes of boulders and constant assault by prickly pear and "shindaggers," even the approach can be a risky proposition, but all this adds to the sense of seclusion.
On the trek, it is easy to see how the famed Apache chief spent 15 years in the area eluding the United States army. The rugged terrain was sanctuary and fortress, impenetrable and unnavigable, from which Cochise and his followers conducted their resistance. Certainly they were hardier folks than I: despite the bravado of a long day of climbing, I'm immensely thankful as we wind back towards town. Big Nosed Kate's and the Crystal Palace beckon with their Wild West authenticity, offering a respite of burgers and brews.