Wednesday, December 2—Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona

Though not a “bucket list” item, Chiricahua National Monument had been on my list of “want to see” places for a couple of years. After checking the gas gauge for the 2 hour drive over the Chiricahua Mountains, I drove to Rodeo, NM, for gasoline, but no stations were to be found. Oh well, I had just over half a tank and it was only 34 miles. The road was gravel, had countless switchbacks, and hardly traveled; and, it was in good condition. The views were breathtaking, but no pullouts were to be found. A 2-mile section of washboarded road ended the gravel part of the drive on the west side of the mountains. Though there were several paved state highways in the area, no gasoline stations were to be found; the nearest was in Wilcox, AZ, some 40 miles away.

View from the steep, curvy, and gravel mountain road over the Chiricahua Mountains

There was no fee for visiting the national monument. A stop at the Visitors Center provided maps and information on photo ops. The first place to visit was Massai Point, and a half mile nature trail where landscapes of hoo doos were in every direction. The hike proved to be more of a walk, though a few birds were flittering about.

Pine Siskin (?) seen at the beginning of the nature trail

Next, I drove to the Echo Canyon Trailhead where a family of Carti Mundi were scurrying around looking for food. I kept seeing a black screen in the camera’s viewfinder, and discovered that the lens cap had not been removed; not off to a good start. By then, the animals had left the area. Switching cameras and lenses, I began the 3.2 mile Echo Canyon Trail hike. Views were overwhelming, and difficult to photograph. The boulder-filled trail wound down though a myriad of switchbacks, small openings in the hoo doos, and then to the canyon floor—tough hike—and there were few people on the trail. I dreaded the hike back up the side of the canyon, especially the boulders and switchbacks. However, there were few switchbacks as the trail hug the canyon wall in a gently ascending route. Finally, back at the car, I wolfed down a couple of sandwiches and a bottle of water before beginning the drive back over the mountains.

There were many “balanced” rocks in Chiricahua NM
Part of the Echo Canyon Trail
Another balanced rock
It is difficult to capture the profound magnificence of the hoodoos at Chiricahua NM
More hoodoos at Chiricahua NM

Faraway Ranch was the home of Swedish immigrants, Emma and Neil Erickson. Emma Peterson bought a two-room cabin in December of 1886. Originally used as a ranch, it became a dude ranch and is now part of the national monument. It’s located at the entrance (or exit).

Faraway Ranch main living quarters

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