Chiricahua National Monument

We had never heard of Chiricahua National Monument until we started doing research for this trip.  We read a couple of articles about good places to visit in the winter and it was mentioned in one of them.  Without thinking much about it, we put it on our ideas map and moved on, not really thinking of it again.  Fast forward to when we were in the hot spring at Big Bend.  A woman who was also soaking in the spring said something about Chiricahua and how it was one of the neatest places she had ever been.  Again, we didn’t think much of it, wondering how great a place we had never heard of could really be.

When it was time to leave the Alamogordo area, though, we needed someplace to go, and knowing we were heading west, Chiricahua was somewhat along the way.  Unfortunately, because it is difficult for us to plan too much in advance, we weren’t able to get into the campground in the monument, and it didn’t seem that any of the other campgrounds around were good options for us, so we turned to Hipcamp.  Hipcamp is a booking website for landowners who will allow you to camp on their property for a fee.  We landed on a ranch, complete with goats, horses, and chickens in a dry camping spot.  It was quiet and perfectly adequate for our needs while in the area.

The weather on this trip has been all over the place.  We have had everything from freezing fog, to sunny and warm, to winds high enough to blow the socks off your feet!  The day we went to Chiricahua, however, was absolutely perfect.  It was sunny, in the 60s, and a little breezy, but nothing terrible.  From the first moment we set foot outside the truck at the visitor center this place felt special.  Even the smell in the air was sweet, crisp, and inviting.  And, then, we started up Bonita Canyon Drive, (the scenic drive in the park).  They call Chiricahua the “Land of Standing up Rocks” and we quickly learned why.  If you have ever been to Bryce Canyon National Park, you know what hoo-doos are, and these rock formations are very reminiscent of hoo-doos. 

Upon recommendation from the ranger at the visitor center, we headed straight up Bonita Canyon Drive to Echo Canyon to do the Echo Canyon Loop Trail.  This is a 3 mile loop that takes you down off the rim and into the rock formations.  We had considered doing the longer Big Loop trail, but we are so glad we didn’t!  While the ranger said the rock formations on the the Big Loop were even more spectacular, we stopped so many times to take pictures and video on the shorter hike that it took us FOUR HOURS to hike three miles!  We have never claimed to set any speed records with our hiking, but this was ridiculously slow, even for us.  The scenery was so phenomenal, though, that we couldn’t keep ourselves from stopping constantly!  There are no words to convey just how amazing we found this area to be, so all we can say is that if you ever have the opportunity, just go.  You won’t regret it.

After completing our hike we headed to some of the overlooks along Bonita Canyon Drive since we hadn’t stopped on the way up, and then went to the Faraway Ranch site.  Faraway Ranch was really interesting, too.  This was an area that was settled in the late 1800s by the Erickson family who worked the land and then turned it into a guest ranch.  They were instrumental in the area being protected and eventually becoming a National Monument.  In our wanderings of their homestead, we had the place to ourselves and spent quite a while meandering around the house, barns, outbuildings, and Stafford Cabin.  While there were no other humans around, we had lots of other company along the way in the form of DOZENS of wild turkeys and quite a few deer.  All along our stroll through the ranch we wondered what life must have been like for those who lived there so many years ago.  The sunshine, mountains, sound of turkeys calling to one another, deer grazing, and stream that babbled its way through, almost lulled us into thinking we would have liked the opportunity to give life there a try. 

It was the perfect end to the perfect day, but it was time to head back to the Bigfoot.  And just to add a little balance so we didn’t get spoiled by a day too perfect, the check engine light came on in the truck on the way back.

See more from our Echo Canyon hike in this video!

Until next time!

We added Arizona!

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