When I stated that Tent Rocks was my favorite national monument, I had forgotten about Chiricahua. What a place for rock formations! We decided our first stop in Arizona had to be there.
One of the best things about Chiricahua is the daily bus that will take you up to the Echo Canyon picnic area so you can hike back down to your car at the visitor center, an elevation drop of 1380 feet. You can take the longer 7-mile route, which I did last time (click here), or the shorter 4.5-mile route down Echo Canyon and Rhyolite Canyon. We decided on the latter which I’ve highlighted on the map.
It was a perfect day for hiking. Before we had gone even ¼ mile, we looked back and spotted Cochise’s head in the rocks behind us. (The top of his head is to the right as he looks up to the sky.) Cochise was a great leader of the Chiricahua Apaches who lived in the area until 1886 when they were herded off to reservations in Oklahoma and New Mexico.
I really like the Echo Canyon trail because it takes you right in among the rock columns.
We weren’t the only ones enjoying the trail.
More rocks – I can never see too many.
From the Echo Canyon trail, we followed the Upper Rhyolite Canyon trail down to the canyon floor, then climbed some to the Lower Rhyolite Canyon Trail.
We found another friend along the way. Funny how they all look pretty different, but have the same disgusted expression.
I didn’t get a good overview picture, so I pulled this one out of the ones from our last visit. What a place!
Back at the visitor center, we went in to check out the displays and watch the movie. They had an informative area on the wonderful CCC, including this interesting set of statistics. (As always, you can click on it to blow it up.)
We had one complaint concerning the monument. The only campground was small with a 29-foot limit and we felt that there was plenty of open area that could be utilized. We heard the ranger sending people into the national forest about five miles from the entrance. Although that is where we stayed both this time and three years ago, I could just imagine the reactions of novices to boondocking. “You want me to go where?” We appreciated our spot in the forest, although we were surrounded by alligators.
Alligator junipers, that is.
What we didn’t appreciate was the 5-mile road in. I’m sure it wasn’t that bad three years ago. Ron swears he’s never going back.