Portions of this historic route were originally used by the US Cavalry to travel from Fort Bowie to the San Pedro Valley during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Today, Middlemarch Road serves as a scenic, but rugged, route from Tombstone over the Dragoon Mountains into the Sulphur Springs Valley, the Chiricahua Mountains and Chiricahua National Monument. For the first several miles, the road snakes across grassy flats and shallow canyons climbing gradually toward the rocky ramparts of the Dragoon Mountains.
The vegetation here is a unique blend of Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts including agave, sotol, Apache plume and tree cholla, as well as pinyon pine, juniper and a wide variety of oaks. Most visible wildlife species include both mule and white-tailed deer, a diverse array of raptors and a healthy population of cottontails and blacktail jackrabbits. As you draw nearer the mountains you’ll develop a healthy respect for Why Chiricahua Apache leader Cochise chose the Dragoons for shelter. They rise sheer from the desert floor like a combination fort and maze.
Just before encountering those cliffs, the road ducks into a side canyon and twists its way to Middlemarch Pass between Cochise and Black Diamond peaks. From overlooks west of the pass, you’ll enjoy good views of the San Pedro Valley, the Huachuca Mountains, the Mustangs and Whetstones, as well. At the top of the pass, the Chiricahua and Dos Cabezas mountains come into view across the broad Sulphur Springs Valley. From here, it is seven more twisting, turning miles down into more desert grasslands and on to the historic mining community of Pearce.
Directions: From Tucson, take I-10 east 45 miles to Benson. Turn south on US 80 and drive 22 miles to Middlemarch Road. From Douglas, take US 80 west to Tombstone. Approximately one mile beyond Tombstone is Middlemarch Road. Turn north-east on Middlemarch Road, which becomes Forest Road 345. Continue over the Pass to the junction with US 191.
Scenic Driving: Views of dramatic cliffs and broad valleys. Oak woodland/desert grassland setting. Fabled homeland of Chiricahua Apache Indians Historic ranching and mining area Access to other scenic drives and Forest trails. Mileage/Driving Time: 100 miles round trip from Benson, allow 3-4 hours driving time. Road Conditions: All 22 miles of Middlemarch Road are gravel. Access roads US 80 and US 191 are paved. The gravel road is not recommended for passenger vehicles. This road can be made impassable by snow in winter or mud in late summer.