Chiricahua National Monument

Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona

Apache Indians called the area that is now Chiricahua National Monument “the land of standing up rocks.” Much later, European settlers called it “a wonderland of rocks.” We simply called it awesome.

In this remote area of Southeastern Arizona, columns of volcanic rock seemingly grow hundreds of feet in height, in fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. Upon seeing it for the first time, Shannon and I both thought of Colorado’s Garden of the Gods, only dressed in green. But the comparison is somewhat tenuous. Where Garden of the Gods is finely manicured, petite and photogenic, Chiricahua is rough, ruggedly handsome and massive.

With the nearest town, Wilcox, AZ, 38 miles north, visiting the park requires motorized transportation. For those with limited time, a scenic driving trail provides a bird’s eye view of these natural wonders, culminating in the fabulous Massai Point seen above. But we found the best way to experience the park is on foot, walking amongst the giants.

Chiricahua National Monument Echo Canyon Loop

Hiking options range from a flat quarter mile stroll to a 9.5 mile hike over elevation changes of as much as 1,000 feet. We charted an intermediate route and tackled the 3.3 mile Echo Canyon loop. The first mile or so descends into the heart of the rocks, where the spectacular Grotoes, Wall Street, and Balanced Rock formations await.

Chiricahua National Monument Balanced Rock

Among the towering pillars, we also found small caves to explore.

Chiricahua National Monument Hiking

Further into the canyon, pine trees and wilderness replace the rock playground. Even with the devastation of last year’s wildfires still evident on our trek, some wildlife remained to wish us well on our passage.

Chiricahua National Monument Gecko

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20 Comments on “Chiricahua National Monument”

  1. theappletizer June 8, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    Amazing! This would sound like I’m overreacting but seriously, if ever I am given a chance to go there, I’ll definitely cry in awe.

  2. Ingrid June 8, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    Thanks for sharing. Did not know about this place. Add to your list “Goblin Valley” Utah, west of Moab. Daughter returned from a camping trip there and Al and I can’t wait to check it out ourselves.

    • Brian June 8, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

      I guess we’re even, because I didn’t know about Goblin Valley Utah. I’ll have to check that out. Thanks.

      • Jessica Smith July 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

        Yes Goblin Valley is amazing! I visited a few years ago and blogged about it. Now I’m heading over to Chiricahua and am glad I found your site! :)

  3. cravesadventure June 8, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    What a cool, interesting place to explore – thanks for sharing! Have a Great Weekend:)

    • Brian June 8, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

      Thanks and back at ya!

  4. rommel June 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Stunning! I’ll keep this post in mind if I do ever come to that direction. Crossing-finger. I love how high those rocks are! It’s quite overwhelming visiting desert places during Summer.

    • Brian June 8, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

      It’s a bit off the normal tourist route, but not too far from Tucson. Definitely worth a detour, though.

  5. Sylver Blaque June 8, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    Makes me wanna walk amongst giants…

    • Brian June 8, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

      We pretty much spent the whole time walking around saying “This is so cool.” A very neat place.

      • Sylver Blaque June 8, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

        I’ll say! And love your blog – just discovered it & digging in…

        • Brian June 8, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

          Welcome aboard. We’re delighted to have you along for the ride.

  6. john June 8, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    one of my absolute favorite spots…and a birding mecca for many…

  7. Cristi M. June 9, 2012 at 2:16 am #

    Amazing place and photos !

  8. M & J June 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    So amazing to see a couple of dreamers with a bit of follow through – not unlike ourselves really… I love that your kitties travel the States with you! We’ve talked many times about spending a yr in an RV when we get back to the States, might have to read up on all your tips when the time comes… If you ever take a side trip (maybe a boat?) to Hong Kong, do look us up! We’ll be here, 3 kids in tow, following a dream that took us 4yrs of planning to free ourselves for… Having the time of our lives, living life to it’s fullest… just like you!

    BTW- Thanks for stopping by & liking our bit on “a chinese Delicacy”… we’ll be sure to get some more when you visit! :D Hope you’ll check us out again soon… -joy

    • Brian June 9, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

      You sound like kindred spirts. We’ll definitely look you up when (not if) we get to Hong Kong. Cheers.

  9. earthriderjudyberman June 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    You’re right. It is awesome. Is this where they shoot the commercial of the woman climbing to the top? I think it’s a car ad.

    • Brian June 9, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

      Do you mean the commercial with the woman’s voiceover saying that she needed to pick up some nylons, and the video showing her shopping for climbing ropes? Awesome commerical! If I had to guess, I’d say that was shot in Utah, but who knows.

  10. ramshazia June 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Absolutely stunning! Thank you, first off, for visiting my humble blog. Then I read your “about” section and fell in love instantly the moment I read VAGABOND :D
    Keep up the good work and keep pushing limits, thats what we are all here for, to see and sense and explore. Nice to find like minded people :) Im just starting out though!

  11. Susie C. June 10, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    What a magnificent place! Thanks — Chiricahua just made it on our “must see” list thanks to you. :)

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