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Friday, November 16, 2018

Chiricahua National Monument Rocks!

November 16, 2018
Hi Blog!

We hadn't heard much about Chiricahua National Monument before arriving in Willcox, Arizona. We knew there were some hiking trails in the area, but were not sure what we would find. 

Located approximately 36 miles southeast of Willcox, Arizona, the monument preserves the remains of an immense volcanic eruption that shook the region about 27 million years ago. The thick, white-hot ash spewed forth from the nearby Turkey Creek Caldera, cooled and hardened into rhyolitic tuff, laying down almost 2,000 ft of highly siliceous, dark volcanic ash and pumice. The volcanic material eventually eroded into the natural rock formations of the present monument.

Sugarloaf Mountain
By far the most noticeable natural features in the park are the rhyolite rock pinnacles for which the monument was created to protect. Rising sometimes hundreds of feet into the air, many of these pinnacles are balancing on a small base, seemingly ready to topple over at any time. The Civilian Conservation Corps, during their occupation here in the 1930s, named many of the rock formations that can be seen today. This rock didn't have a name, so we named him.

Guardian of the Trail
Rising 9,763 feet, the Chiricahua sky island is an isolated mountain range rising above the surrounding grassland sea. The Chiricahua called these pinnacles "standing up rocks."

Sea of Standing Up Rocks
We started our adventure with a drive up Bonita Canyon Drive. This scenic drive winds eight miles to Massai Point, climbing through oak, cypress and pine forests. The drive ends at Massai Point overlooking Rhyolite Canyon. The expansive views along the mountain drive reminded us of Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier National Park, but without all the traffic!

By following a series of trails, we set our sights on Heart of Rocks Loop. Along the way, we passed a few pinnacles.

We stopped to have lunch in the shadow of this balanced rock. We thought it was THE big balanced rock, but we later passed the actual Big Balanced Rock.

Not the Big Balanced Rock
As we approached the Big Balanced Rock, we took a video to let you see some of what we saw. Click the link to see a 360 Degree View from the heights near Big Balanced Rock.

Below are just some of the cool hoodoos we encountered.

Happy Family


Sock Puppet

Punch and Judy

Duck on Rock

Kissing Rock

Balanced Rock

Mushroom Rock
As we worked our way back to the trailhead, we stopped to admire the amazing stonework done by the CCC back in the 1930s.

CCC Trail Construction
After we finished our hike, we drove back down the Bonita Canyon Drive. We just happened to catch this little coatimundi crossing the road. To our surprise, it stopped to take a look at us as we drove by.

The coatimundi wasn't the only curious creature in the park. This little doe gave us the once over.

white tail deer
And that, my "dears," is the story of our adventure. Tomorrow we head for Quartzsite, Arizona. Stay tuned.

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