12 Things To Do in Sierra Vista, Arizona

Last Updated on February 10, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Sierra Vista is a city in Cochise County, Arizona located about 80 miles southeast of Tucson. Nestled in the foothills of the Huachuca Mountains, Sierra Vista offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation and adventures. From birdwatching to winetasting, this southern Arizona destination has something for everyone.

With warm and sunny weather year-round, it’s an ideal place to enjoy the outdoors. If you’re planning a trip to Sierra Vista or looking for things to do during your visit, here are 12 top attractions and activities to consider adding to your Arizona itinerary.

Explore the Coronado National Memorial

The Coronado National Memorial commemorates the first organized expedition into the Southwest by conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and his army in 1540-1542. Located just south of Sierra Vista on the U.S.-Mexico border, this 4,750-acre memorial has hiking trails that wind through grasslands and canyons with spectacular views of the Huachuca Mountains.

Walk along the 1.25 mile roundtrip Yaqui Trail and see remnants of original rock dwellings. Or challenge yourself on the steeper 2.5 mile roundtrip Canyon Trail that leads down to Montezuma Pass. The Coronado National Memorial Visitor Center has interesting historical exhibits about the Coronado Expedition and native tribes they encountered. Entrance to the memorial is free.

Go Birdwatching

With its diversity of habitats including woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands, Sierra Vista is considered one of the top birding destinations in Arizona. Home to nearly 500 bird species, it has been designated as an Important Bird Area. Birdwatchers come from around the world to look for Elegant Trogons, Buff-collared Nightjars, Gray Hawks and other species that stop here during migrations.

Visit San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area to spot 100 species like Yellow-breasted Chats. Ramsey Canyon Preserve is known for 14 species of hummingbirds. Fort Huachuca draws Red-tailed Hawks and has reintroduced the endangered masked Bobwhite Quail. Join guided birdwatching tours or explore many birding hotspots on your own. Prime times are during spring and fall migrations.

Hike Miller Peak Wilderness

Get your boots on and challenge yourself hiking in Miller Peak Wilderness, part of the Coronado National Forest. Located 14 miles south of Sierra Vista, this 38,500 acre wilderness has over 50 miles of trails that traverse woodlands and climb mountain peaks. Test your endurance summiting 9,466 foot high Miller Peak for 360 degree views.

The roundtrip hike is 8.4 miles and involves a strenuous 4,000 foot elevation gain. Or take the 5 mile roundtrip hike through sycamores and junipers to visit Miller Canyon Ruin, remnants of dwellings used by the Hohokam people over 700 years ago. With its remoteness and rugged terrain, Miller Peak Wilderness is a peaceful spot for nature photography too.

Tour Fort Huachuca

Discover over 130 years of military history with a visit to Fort Huachuca. This active Army installation just west of Sierra Vista was established in 1877 to protect settlers from Apache attacks. Now it is home to the Army’s military intelligence training center and testing grounds for electronic warfare.

Take a 90 minute walking tour to explore Fort Huachuca Museums covering the Buffalo Soldiers, the Army’s role along the Mexican border, and area Native American tribes. Take in the beautiful architecture as you walk the historic district to see landmark buildings like the 1903 Romanesque Revival style post headquarters. With advanced planning, you can also sign up to tour the Fort’s high-tech Underground Communications Center.

Taste Local Wines

Who knew that southern Arizona had an emerging wine region? Wineries near Sierra Vista are crafting delicious reds and whites that pair nicely with the warm desert climate. Stop by the tasting room at Coronado Vineyards in Elgin and sample Chardonnay, Merlot, and other estate grown wines. The family-owned Poston Butte Winery nearby features award winning Syrah and Sangiovese.

Join a weekend Wine & Music Fest or seasonal Grape Stomp. Tour the vines to learn how altitude, soil, and sun exposure affect these high desert grapes. Many wineries host food trucks so you can wine and dine too. Discover an unexpected side of Arizona with tastings at wineries stationed amongst the stunning landscape of rolling hills and grasslands.

Explore Bisbee

Take a scenic 45 minute drive from Sierra Vista and explore the historic mining town of Bisbee. Founded in 1880 when copper ore was discovered nearby, Bisbee quickly boomed to a population of over 20,000 residents. Take the Queen Mine Tour and descend 1,500 feet to learn about what it was like working Bisbee’s lucrative copper mines.

Wander the brick sidewalks browsing the art galleries, boutiques, and souvenir shops that fill Main Street and Brewery Gulch. Visit the P.A. Peterson House Museum to see what living quarters were like at the turn of the 20th century. View creative works at Bisbee Mining & Historical Society. With its Victorian-era homes and buildings hugging steep hillsides, Bisbee has one of the best-preserved early 1900s downtowns. Don’t miss it.

Go Camping

Enjoy nice weather camping almost any time of the year around Sierra Vista. Pitch a tent at Reef Townsite Campground among the boulders near Carr Canyon Lake. Go higher and camp at the Riggs Lake Campground ringed by tall pines. Both have hiking trails and fishing spots nearby too. Or check into a cabin at Ramsey Canyon Preserve where wild turkeys and hummingbirds may visit your campsite!

For RV travelers, check out Vista RV Resort with full hookups and amenities like a heated pool, laundry, and clubhouse featuring dances and potlucks. Wherever you stay, campgrounds in southeast Arizona serve as convenient home bases for mountain adventures, birdwatching excursions, and exploring small towns.

Mountain Bike at BLM Las Cienegas

Located 8 miles south of Sonoita, the Bureau of Land Management’s Las Cienegas National Conservation Area has over 40,000 acres of rolling grasslands and wooded canyons perfect for mountain biking and off-road adventures. Follow loops and connectors along the Cienega Creek Natural Preserve, a vibrant riparian habitat.

For beginners, Heartbreak Ridge to High Lonesome Route has wide doubletrack with gentle climbs while still offering beautiful scenery. More advanced mountain bikers can challenge themselves on 9.5 mile Bobcat Ridgeline, rated epic for its steep climbs, or try the 14.3 mile Rocking Z Trail with swooping banked turns. With its variety of landscapes and terrain from easy to difficult, mountain bikers of all skill levels will enjoy exploring Las Cienegas.

Attend the Sierra Vista Oktoberfest

Put on your lederhosen and get in the Oktoberfest spirit each October during Sierra Vista’s popular German festival. Held every Saturday and Sunday in Veteran’s Memorial Park, this huge street party serves German foods like schnitzel, spaetzle, and bratwurst. Wash it down with beers on tap! Browse artwork at the juried Artisan Market with over 100 vendors.

Watch German folk dancers performing traditional routines. Get kids involved too with crafts projects and pretzel twisting demonstrations. Plan to enjoy live music and entertainment all day on multiple stages, from oompah bands to rock guitarists. By the evening, put your arms around new friends and sway as you sing “Ein Prosit” along with hundreds of other revelers!

Play Disc Golf

What started as tossing Frisbees into baskets on hiking trails has evolved into one of the country’s fastest-growing sports. Test your aim playing disc golf at Veterans Memorial Park in Sierra Vista. This professional 18 hole course incorporates elevation changes that wind through woodlands along the San Pedro River, with granite tee pads and skill shots mixing long open fairways with tricky wooded tunnels.

Sierra Vista holds an annual Fourth of July “Freedom Fly” tournament that draws top disc golfers. Or show up anytime to play a casual round. Just throw specialized golf discs at elevated chain-link targets across varied terrain. Bring your own discs or rent them onsite. Fun for all ages and fitness levels from beginner to pro, disc golf is an inexpensive way to enjoy beautiful scenery between tosses.

Tour the Titan Missile Museum

Get an inside look at a once top-secret nuclear missile site at Sahuarita’s Titan Missile Museum, located just 25 miles north of Sierra Vista. This underground complex is the only remaining intact Titan II missile site open to the public, and includes an eight story tall Titan II rocket still in its launch duct. Take the highly informative walking tour to hear Cold War history while seeing the control room, fuel storage bay, and actual size blast doors.

Witness two minutes of simulated launch operations, complete with rumbling sounds and sequenced lighting. Exit through the 760 tonne door and visit above ground exhibits like the Missile Silo Park showcasing Titan rockets through the ages. This National Historic Landmark provides startling insights into America’s former defensive “mutually assured destruction” doctrine during the Cold War’s nuclear arms race.

Conclusion

With the beautiful Huachuca Mountains as its backdrop, Sierra Vista serves up no shortage of things to experience in Arizona’s great outdoors. Hike woodland trails to a historic ruin or up a summit peak for rewarding views. Marvel at diverse birds stopping here on migratory flyways.

Sip award-winning local wines at tasting rooms with stunning desert vistas right outside their doors. Pay respects to fallen heroes at the national memorial. Get hands dirty gold panning or join a grapevine harvest. Stay in remote campsites and go mountain biking on backcountry trails. Attend Sierra Vista’s Oktoberfest bursting with German food, music, dancing and beer. Learn top secret Cold War history touring a Titan missile silo still ready for doomsday.

When people think of Arizona travel, destinations like the Grand Canyon and cities like Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Sedona usually come to mind first. But venture southeast and discover rich history, incredible biodiversity, attractive wineries, and amazing outdoor recreation waiting in Sierra Vista. With this list of top things to do, add this up-and-coming Arizona spot to your must-visit desert itinerary!

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