Chiricahua National Monument.
Filled with statuesque, stony splendor and some of the most unusual,
unique, and bizarre rock formations to be found anywhere in Arizona.
This is Chiricahua National Monument – Land of the Standing-Up
Rocks. This is where many postcard shots of rock formations are done.
Ft. Bowie is a D class hike for Friday afternoon (~3 miles).
Echo Canyon/ Heart of Rocks is a B class hike for all Saturday.
(10 miles, but mostly downhill) An alternate trail (5 miles) that is
all downhill is Echo Canyon/ Rhyolite Canyon, class C.
Exploring Chiricahua National Monument is exploring a fantasy world of
extraordinary rock sculptures that were created by the forces of nature
over millions of years.
Called the “Land of the Standing-Up Rocks” by Chiricahua Apaches
and later the “Wonderland of Rocks” by early pioneers, this
picturesque northwest corner of the Chiricahua Mountains harbors towering
rock spires, massive stone columns, and balanced rocks weighing hundreds of
tons that perch delicately on small pedestals.
Where hundreds of these rocks occur together, such as in the Heart of Rocks,
the landscape appears as a rugged badlands.
We currently have a reservation at the Bonita Canyon Group Campsite, which
sits at an elevation of 5,400', for the nights of Oct 9 and 10, 2015.
The campsite can hold a maximum of 24 people and 5 vehicles.
We need a minimum of 8 people to keep the group site.
Camping fees are $3 per person, per night for the group site.
Additional cars can park in another lot, and we can shuttle people to the campsite.
Additional individual campsites are available at the campground on a first come,
first serve basis and cannot be reserved.
The group site is limited to tents only.
RVs and tent trailers will need to be assigned to the individual sites.
These sites are $12 per night and can accommodate up to 8 people, 2 vehicles,
and 2 tents.
There are no hookups for RVs, but a gray water dump station is located near
the restrooms. Restrooms have running water.
As in most parks now, ground fires are not permitted.
Fires will be limited to the cooking grills provided.
We will need to bring our own firewood and charcoal, as wood gathering is
Climbing gradually through oak, juniper and pine forests, Bonita Canyon Drive
winds 8 miles to the mountains' crest and Massai Point.
The overlook gives commanding views of the park, desert valleys beyond, and
the landmark peaks of Sugarloaf Mountain and Cochise Head.
As you drive back, stop at the roadside pullouts to see rock formations,
other geologic features, and exhibits.
This is a very nice campground. It has trees, running water in the restrooms
and is very laid back.
They have just redone the group site, so it should be nice.
The group site is off by its self, so it is like you are the only ones there.
COST: $5.00 per person entrance fee (not per vehicle) plus $3.00 per
person per night camping fee for a total of $11.00 per person.
Michael expects $6 per person camping.
Best Time of Year to Hike: May through October.
Summer hiking can be hot. I hope this hike is after the high heat of
summer. Normal day time is low 80s. Normal night time is high 50s.
For those who do not care to camp in tents, but would still like to
join us for the Friday and/or Saturday hike, please check the listing
below for accommodations in the Willcox area. In your email to me,
please state that you plan to say in a motel and if you want a roommate.
Temperatures average about 10-15° cooler than in Phoenix.
After we have lunch, we can work up a good dinner appetite
by hiking Ft. Bowie Trail and national monument. This is a relatively
easy flat 3-mile loop hike, with about a 200' elevation change.
Ft. Bowie is a very large fort that was the main staging point for the
hunt for Geronimo. The fort had the first ice cream machine west of
This being our only full day in the Chiricahuas, we will use most of
it to take in the breathtaking Heart of Rocks Trail, a spectacular
hike that will introduce the first-time Chiricahua visitor to the
very best scenery and the most unique rock formations found anywhere
in the Chiricahuas. Length: 10 miles. Level of difficulty: Moderate
(1,600' EC). We will begin at the Echo Canyon (6780') parking area,
which is at the end of the 8-mile scenic drive. The trail descends
through Echo Canyon to Hailstone Trail, which we use to cross over
to the cool pine and fir forests. We will continue to the trail junction
with the Inspiration Point (7000') trail for lunch.
After lunch we continue on the main trail to just beyond Big Balanced
Rock (and the end of the forest) for a short side trip (0.9 mile loop)
into the actual Heart of Rocks area, with excellent views of the Totem
Pole, Big Balanced Rock, Pinnacle Balanced Rock, Camel’s Head,
Thor’s Hammer, Punch & Judy, and many other well-known rock
features. The return trip will be made via Sarah Deming Canyon
continuing though Rhyolite Canyon, with a short walk from the ranger
station (5400') back to our camp site.
We will then use one of the vehicles we left at the camp site to
retrieve the vehicles we left at Echo canyon. An alternate trail
(5 miles) that is all downhill is Echo Canyon, Rhyolite Canyon, with
a short walk from the ranger station (5400') back to our camp site.
For those not up to the 10 mile hike on Saturday:
There are several shorter trials in the area. Bonita Creek Loop is
0.2 mile RT, Bonita Creek Trail is 1 mile RT, Faraway Ranch Historic
Trail is 2.4 miles RT, Rhyolite Canyon Trail is 3 miles RT, and
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail is 1.8 miles RT. There is also the option
of a guided tour of Faraway Ranch, not far from the campground.
Sunday will be an optional day. For those who wish to pack up and
leave for an early start back to the Phoenix area, please feel free
to do so. For those who would like to see more while in the area,
there are several options available. There is always more hiking,
but for those who have had enough hiking for a while (which will
probably be most of us after Saturday’s hike), there is a very
interesting guided tour of the nearby Faraway Ranch, which gives
an excellent insight into the life and times of some of the early
day pioneers in the Chiricahuas and the many day to day challenges
and hardships they faced. If you missed any of the scenic overlooks
along Bonita Canyon Drive, this would be a good opportunity to see
those. Bisbee is also nearby for mine tours and shopping.
Please email the leader by September 13 to confirm.
9:15 AM on Friday morning, October 9, in the parking lot near Einstein
Brothers Bagel Shop on the SE corner of 48th Street and Ray Road, just
west of I-10. We will try to get away about 9:30.
From Phoenix, take I-10 east past Tucson.
Get off at the Willcox exit (#340, 2nd exit).
We have about a four-hour drive ahead of us and should arrive at the
monument by about 2:30. Have lunch in Willcox at about 12:30, pick up
gas and any other things. Travel to Ft. Bowie for the Friday afternoon
hike. The road to Ft. Bowie is gravel, but it is graded for cars.
There is no gas or services in the Chiricahua or Ft. Bowie National
Monument. For those of you leaving at different times, please let me
know when you are leaving, so I will know when to expect you at the
campground. No cars may be left at Einstein Brothers.
Accommodations in the Willcox area:
||Best Western Plaza Inn
||Budget Riteway Motel
||Chochise Hotel & Gift Shop
||Desert Breeze Motel
||Desert Inn of Willcox
||Holiday Inn Express (Benson)
||Triangle T Guest Ranch