Chiricahua National Monument
12856 East Rhyolite Creek Road
Willcox, AZ 85643
Explore the Chiricahua
A "Wonderland of Rocks" is
waiting for you to explore at Chiricahua National Monument. This
forest of rock spires was eroded from layers of ash deposited by the
Turkey Creek Volcano eruption 27 million years ago. The 8 mile paved
scenic drive and 18 miles of day-use hiking trails provide
opportunities to discover the beauty, natural sounds, and
inhabitants of this 11,985 acre site. Visit the Faraway Ranch
Historic District to discover more about the people who have called
this area home: Chiricahua Apaches, Buffalo Soldiers, Erickson and
Reservations are not accepted for the
22 individual campsites at Bonita Canyon Campground. Maximum vehicle
length for trailers and recreational vehicles is 29 feet.
Backcountry camping is available in
the surrounding Coronado National Forest land.
Trails range from short and paved to
all day adventures. The trail guide provides detailed trail
descriptions. The hikers' shuttle is a limited service that leaves
the visitor center daily at 8:30 a.m.
Protect yourself. Don't forget your
hat, sunscreen, drinking water, and sturdy shoes.
Faraway Ranch Historic District
Faraway Ranch was the home of Swedish
immigrants, Neil and Emma Erickson, who settled in Bonita Canyon in
the late 1880s. Their home evolved from a simple homestead to a
thriving guest ranch that was in operation from 1917 to 1972.
Explore the grounds on your own, or check at the visitor center for
tour times of the house.
The Chiricahua Mountains are one of
the many "sky island" ranges in southern Arizona. They
rise like islands from the surrounding grassland "sea".
Plants and animals from four ecosystems; Rocky Mountains, Sierra
Madre Mountains, Sonoran & Chihuahuan Deserts, meet here. Watch
for black bear, mountain lions, Arizona white-tail deer, coati-mundis,
snakes & lizards, and a variety of birds.
In the far southeastern corner of
Arizona are the beautiful Chiricahua Mountains, one of several �sky
island� mountain ranges surrounded by expansive desert grasslands.
The Chiricahua Mountain Range is an inactive volcanic range twenty
miles wide and forty miles long. It forms part of the Mexican
Highland section of the Basin and Range Biogeographical Province and
rises up dramatically from the valley floor to over nine thousand
feet, cresting in a series of uneven, volcanic looking peaks.
At the northern end of the range is
an extraordinary area of striking geological features and enormous
biodiversity. Tucked deep into these steep, forested valleys and
beneath the craggy peaks are the remains of violent geological
activity that continued for many millions of years - the pinnacles,
columns, spires and balanced rocks of Chiricahua National
The Apaches called this place 'The
Land of Standing-Up Rocks', a fitting name for an extraordinary rock
wonderland. Early pioneers in the late 1800s sensed the unique
beauty and singularity of the rock formations in the area. They were
instrumental in persuading Congress to protect this "Wonderland of
Rocks", so much so that in 1924 the Chiricahua National Monument
There are approximately twelve
thousand acres of wild, rugged terrain within which the rock
formations and a great ecological diversity are protected. In 1976,
Congress decided to further preserve the land, designating 87% of
the monument as Wilderness.
This precludes any development and
human intervention, thus ensuring the preservation of the geological
formations for future generations and the continuation of
undisturbed space and habitat for the many unique plants and animals
that are found in this special region. As well as the exceptional
geological aspects of this park, the monument hosts a biological
crossroads, a meeting-place of four different ecological
In the Chiricahua Mountains, the
Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, and the Rocky Mountain and Sierra
Madre ranges all meet. The convergence of these four biomes makes
this area unusually rich in both floral and faunal biodiversity.
Rocky Mountain representatives such as the Ponderosa pine and
Engelmann spruce co-exist beside the Soap tree yucca from the
Chihuahuan desert. Stately Arizona sycamore and various types of oak
dot the well-watered canyons.
Apache pine grows here at the most
northern end of the Sierra Madre range. Chihuahua pine is found, as
are Douglas and White fir, Arizona cypress, Cane cholla, Prickly
pear and several species of ferns, mushrooms, and fungi. There are
five major drainages within the monument, several with intermittent
creeks that support a mixture of deciduous and evergreen
The heavily forested canyons provide
habitat for numerous wildlife, including coatimundi, white-tailed
deer, javalina, and many species of birds; over three hundred bird
species are found in the Chiricahua Mountains, some of whom have
migrated north from Mexico.
The Chiricahua Mountains are part of
the Madrean Archipelago, a collection of forty neighboring mountain
groups that lie between the Colorado Plateau and the Sierra Madre
Occidental. It is so named because it resembles an oceanic
archipelago - a sea dotted with islands - only here the sea is hot
We call these isolated mountain
ranges "sky islands". The Chiricahuas are a perfect example of a
sky island that formed during the Basin and Range faulting.
Places to Picnic
- Bonita Creek
- Echo Canyon
- Massai Point