Chiricahua National Monument
Called the "land of standing-up rocks" by the Apaches, the 12,000 acres of this national monument contain some of the most startling rock formations on earth. The product of a volcanic eruption some 27 million years ago, the rhyolite tuff has weathered into forms that make the area a photographer's paradise. The location of the monument--at the intersection of the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts and the southern Rocky Mountains and the northern Sierra Madre--makes it a favorite spot for naturalists and birders as well. Chiricahua plants and animals represent some of the greatest biological diversity in North America.
NEW! Faraway Ranch and Stafford Cabin pages
Scenic Drive, 8 miles
A narrow but well-maintained, paved road takes you to Massai Point where you have incredible views of the landscape in all directions. There is an excellent interpretive trail from the parking lot. A spur road goes to Sugarloaf Mountain. There are scenic pull-offs on the way down so you can stop to study and photograph the various rock formations. For safety use of this road is limited to vehicles under 29 feet long.
This ranch was a pioneer homestead, later a cattle ranch and guest ranch. The house contains historic memorabilia of the first half of the twentieth century
The Visitor Center features book and map sales, exhibits and a computer information station. Interpretive programs are available from March through November. Evening programs are presented at the Campground Amphitheater. Short talks and guided walks are also given. Check the schedule at the Visitor Center for specific times and places. Open 8-5 daily.
The 25-site campground features picnic tables, drinking water, and restrooms with flush toilets. There are no hookups or showers. Trailers need to be 25 ft or less to fit in the camping sites. Camping fees are $12/night, $6/night with Golden Age Passport or Golden Access Passport. Sites are available on a first-come, first serve basis and stays are limited to 14 days. No backcountry camping is permitted in the monument, but there is access to wilderness and primitive areas in the Chiricahua Wilderness.
Faraway Ranch, Main house
There are seventeen miles of maintained trails in the monument. Echo Canyon Trail (3.5 miles) and Heart of Rocks Trail are favorites. Information on the trails is available at the Visitor Center.
Birding and Wildlife Viewing
Some of the birds seen include hepatic tanagers, Scott's orioles, warblers and several varieties of hummingbirds. Beautiful sky-blue Mexican jays are plentiful. Raptors can be seen soaring high over Massai Point, and this is habitat to the black-tailed rattlesnake. Mexican jays and the Chiricahua fox squirrel are often spotted in picnic areas, although feeding the animals is forbidden in the monument because of bears. Since the monument is 90% wilderness area, it supports many species of fauna including javelina, bear, mountain lions, deer, skunks and coatimundi. It is not unusual to spot deer from your car as you make the scenic drive, especially in the early evening.
36 miles SE of Willcox, exit I-10 at Willcox and take Hwy 186 Entrance fees: $5 per person. If you are 62 or over you can buy a Golden Age passport for $10 at the gate and you and your spouse can enter on it and have the benefit of the lifetime pass ever after. Can't beat that deal! Commercial vehicle rates vary.
If you are interested in the geology of the monument or any other areas of Arizona, an excellent source of information is Halka Chronic's Roadside Geology of Arizona (Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1996.) It is available through amazon.com and in many local bookstores.