This was our 2013 Jayco Flight Swift 198 RD


Saturday 2 March 2024

In search of Camp Rucker

Thanks to Kelly of "Travel with the Bayfield Bunch" who suggested that the Camp Rucker would be a worthwhile visit, we set out yesterday morning on a mission to find it. Of course we looked at Google Earth to get a general idea of where it was located. Also the Internet had some info on it and we read that it was not easy to find its entrance, but we love a challenge and a trip into the Chiricahua Wilderness tickles both of our adventurous natures.

Already the drive started out interesting from our RV Park going by historic Fairbank, through Tombstone, Gleeson and Elfrida and then making a right turn from Hwy 191 into N Rucker Canyon Rd driving on dirt roads towards the mountains. Soon my phone showed no more cellular service. We were on our own as we had not encountered any cars at all and a lone ranch we had passed several miles ago. However, sporadically along the route grazing cattle were looking at us curiously and a few deer we startled while we followed the well maintained dirt road. Our GPS in the truck showed a trail with “Rak ahead”.

Both of us were looking out for a gate on the left side that should be the entrance to the camp which would not be visible from the road. We came upon this gate and thought that this must be the place.

This was the wrong entrance, NOT the Camp Rucker

We opened the gate, drove through and parked a bit further as there was a big muddy patch right in the path. Taking the dogs and our stuff we set out on foot. A bit further another big muddy patch had us detouring on the side until we came to a wash with too much water running through it to cross on foot. My smart husband went back, got the truck, drove through both mud puddles with speed avoiding to get stuck, stopped to load us in and then proceeded through the wash to the other side with “caramba”. On the other side of the wash the trail went up a mountain. Ha! Well, we came to the realization that this was not the place for the Camp Rucker, so Benno turned the truck around, splashing through the wash and muck again to the Rucker Canyon Road, beautifying the truck even more with mud!

And so we kept on driving and only a couple of miles further, there it was, the gate to the Camp Rucker. It even had a fairly new sign showing it to be a Historical Site. Here we had to park outside as only foot traffic was allowed through several openings in the fences for visitors.

Horse Stable

This is the Bakery

Inside the Bakery we found this Fox. It could have not been there long.

On the left the water tower and the fence looked original all around the property

Farm House

Inside the Farm House

Take a few minutes to enlarge and read the various signs that were posted throughout the area in front of the buildings, they are interesting. We poked around and took some photos.

The history of the camp is really colourful. It started out as Camp Supply and Camp Powers, protecting settlers in the area from Apache tribes led by Geronimo and Cochise.

In 1878 it was renamed to Camp Rucker in honour of Lieutenant John Anthony Rucker. He died while unsuccessfully attempting to save the life of his fellow soldier Lieutenant Austin Henley who drowned while crossing a river that had swelled up during a rainstorm.

In 1880 six mules were stolen from the Camp Rucker stables. They were later discovered on the ranch of Tom and Frank McLaury outside Tombstone after the Camp Commander Captain J.H. Hurst and Deputy US  Marshal Virgil Earp with deputies had tracked them. (Tom and Frank McLaury were killed in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral)

During the 1880’s the Camp Rucker became Fort Rucker but it was abandoned in 1890 when supplies were then obtained through civilian contractors.

1883 Michael (Mike) Gray was the first owner of Camp Rucker. He was referred to as Tombstone’s “mover and shaker” among other things: read here

1897 Mathilde and Theodor August Hampe 2nd owners, were artists. There is a collection of photographs, illustrations by Theo and reminiscence written by Mathilde at the Arizona Historical Society.

Mary Rak and her husband Charles were the last owners of the Camp. Mary wrote a couple of books that I am dying to read once I get my hands on them. A website about Mary Rak you find here.

On our return trip home we truly enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the mountains and area. That drive alone was as nice as the visit to the camp. We can truly recommend it. Thank you Kelly! 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you have time to read up on some of the links. (I posed only half of the photos I took ;-)


  1. Though it was hard to find, it turned out to be very interesting with its history.
    Your new hat looks good.
    Be Safe and Enjoy your adventures.

    It's about time.

    1. Thanks, I intent wearing the hat at home also :-) The Camp Rucker was a wonderful outing.

  2. You are well suited for this western type of trek. There is a lot of history in the south, thank you for the tour.
    Poor fox. 😪

    1. Arizona is beautiful, no question about it. You never know what kind of terrain you'll encounter when going out into the wilderness. Yes, poor fox.

  3. Love loved reading this and seeing the pictures . We bought the book, A Cowman's Wife by Mary Kidder Rak . How about going to The Chirichau Monument , The Far Away Ranch at the foot of the mountains then a beautiful drive to the top. Well worth the Monument price. Kelly

    1. Thanks Kelly. We thought of revisiting the Chiricahua National Monument. I posted about it on 21 Nov. 2015 under recap #5, as I did not have a blog when we were there the previous year.

  4. and and then the drive over the mountain to Portal Az. It's where the road splits, left to Monument and forks right to Portal, beautiful campground in Portal you would love. And you even get to drive through the town of Paradise. Portal is a birding capital. Kelly

    1. We'll be doing some Internet googeling. Thanks for the tips. Lets see where we'll be heading next..

  5. What an interesting place with so much history! That fox. How weird is that? How the heck did it get there?!?

    1. The buildings are open and I think the fox looked for a place to crawl to for comfort. We are enjoying all these places as we don't have that back home.

  6. That was a great trip! Sad about the fox though. I imagine it was poison. Definitely check out the Chiricahua Monument.

    1. You are probably right with the poison or maybe snake bite. The Chiricahua Monument is impressive for sure and we might head back there.