Chiricahua National Monument – First Attempt 2019

Spent the night in Sierra Vista, Arizona hanging out with my Dad who was on his own mini motorcycle vacation. Headed out in the morning with intention of visiting Coronado National Monument but it was windy, drizzling, and threatening rain all morning. Instead I decided to spend most of the day driving east-northeast.

Passed through Bisbee and then on a combination of US-191 and desolate two-lane rural backroads until I reached Chiricahua National Monument. This was one of the main targets for my trip and I was thrilled to at least have accomplished putting my feet on the soil. But it was a bittersweet excitement as the weather turned for the worse.

The Ericksons: Pioneer Settlers

Right at the entrance to the monument is a small cemetery with a few parking spots that is very easy to miss, save for a large educational park sign. This one details the The Erickson family who were early settlers in the area.

Here’s a wider shot of the tiny cemetery under a large old tree. Not buried here is the oldest child Lillian who ultimately became the “Lady Boss of Faraway Ranch”, the family’s homestead. The interested generated from this ranch would lead to the monument’s creation in 1924.

Visitor Center

I continued driving the park entrance road as it winds up the Chiricahua mountains until reaching the visitor center. Lots to learn about the park, I had not prepared at all before coming. Including the wilderness area it’s much, much larger than I had expected. Talk to the park staff if you have questions – they are extremely knowledgeable.

Directly adjacent to the visitor center is a decent-sized stream (or drainage? swale?) with some small drops that look like tiny waterfalls. Not sure if this is ephemerally fed by rain runoff or a natural spring but it doesn’t show on maps. Kind of a neat surprise!

Weather: Decisions, Decisions…

After booking a campsite and driving to the top of the monument’s paved roads the weather continued to worsen. I had to make a tough call: stay here and tough out the bad weather, or pull up stakes and try to use my time finding clearer skies. Decided to back out as it felt like the best use of my limited time.

On the way out, I headed north and attempted to check out Fort Bowie but the weather pattern continued to move in. Never made it to the fort but did get to see some interesting cloud formations. Rain might not be good for hiking but it’s definitely high on my list of things to photograph. So much drama.

Once I finally got cell service again I checked the radar. Pretty sure I made the right call, I was right inside that yellow/green blob on the center right. It would continue raining off and on and I believe it did snow that night in the mountains. Ended up in Benson, Arizona at the Days Inn (which apparently is now permanently closed) because I needed WiFi to adjust my plans for tomorrow.

Disappointed because I really wanted to explore, just not in the cards today. Patience would work in my favor, stay tuned for more on Chiricahua to come soon…

Author’s Note: Due to many reasons – none of them very good – I’m posting this from the future in March 2022. Actual visit date/time December 8, 2019 4:13pm. I’ll backdate it later so as to maintain chronological order. I’ve got an overwhelming backlog of photos to process which is probably why I procrastinate. Hope you enjoy them all the same.

Lat = 32.0092468 , Long = -109.3844299 -- Show at Google Maps

3 thoughts on “Chiricahua National Monument – First Attempt 2019”

    • Some days are definitely like that. On my crazy seat-of-the-pants trips I just shift gears and move to the next point of interest. Gotta roll with the changes!

  1. I have not been Chiricahua National Park but this is only list. I have been to Mule Shoe Conservation north of Willcox. There is so so much history in the southeast part of Arizona. I have been to Tombstone, Bisbee, Sierra Vista, Benson, and Karchner Cavern State Campground. I have read books about the King Ranch around Willcox. How the early cowboys and the settlers came about. We are going to Karchner State Park next month and hope to check out Chiricachua State Park and the Bird Scantuary east of Tombstone.


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