Chiricahua National Monument

Chiricahua National Monument is a gem of an attraction that can be found in the southeastern part of Arizona. Hailed as a Wonderland of Rocks, this 11,985-acre park is renowned for its impressive collection of strangely shaped rocks, most of which are found in the upper reaches of the Chiricahua Mountains. Many of the weirdly shaped rocks at the Chiricahua National Monument are precariously perched on top of other rocks, almost defying the laws of gravity, and the range of red and brown hues that they display only adds to the overall atmosphere. In addition to checking out the stunning rock formations, those who visit this National Park wonderland near the New Mexico border can take some time out to observe the native flora and fauna. Dropping by the Faraway Ranch Historic District to get some insight into the area's history is also an option.

The Chiricahua Mountains boast a relatively unique location, in that various ecosystems meet where they rise up out of the grassland 120 miles east of Tucson. These ecosystems include those of the Chihuahuan Desert, the Sonoran Desert, the Sierra Madre Mountains, and the Rocky Mountains. Animals in the area include Arizona white-tail deer, mountain lions, coati-mundis, and black bears. Hundreds of bird species have been seen at the Chiricahua National Monument Park, so birding enthusiasts won't want to leave their binoculars behind. As for snakes and lizards, you can find them here too, and since some of the snakes are poisonous, a certain amount of caution should be exercised when it comes to Chiricahua National Monument hiking.

Hiking is the best way to take in the many splendors of the Chiricahua National Monument, and there are trails to fit all levels of hikers. The more strenuous trails include significant elevation changes, not to mention relatively rugged conditions. For those who are up for a more leisurely Chiricahua National Monument hiking experience, the short, paved trails will likely be the most ideal. In addition to taking to the seventeen miles of day-use hiking trails at Chiricahua National Monument, visitors who want to do some quality sightseeing can also drive along the eight-mile-long paved driving road. Hikers can take advantage of free shuttle service at the park to get to two of the best trail heads. The shuttle van leaves the Visitor Center Parking lot at 8:30 in the morning on a daily basis, and you will have to make a reservation either the morning of or the day before your intended ride.

The Chiricahua National Monument is open daily, save for Thanksgiving and Christmas, with the Visitor Center opening at 8 a.m. and closing at 4:30 p.m. The entrance fees are more than reasonable, and they reward the visitor with a pass that is valid for a week. Families with young kids who are spending some time in southeast Arizona will be happy to know that children who are fifteen years old or younger get in for free. Various commercial tours include the Chiricahua National Monument on their itineraries for those who are interested.

It is not possible to make reservations at the relatively simple Bonita Canyon Campground, and since this campground only has 22 individual sites, it can fill up fast. For those who have camping in mind when it comes to Chiricahua National Monument lodging, it is also possible to find a campground or go backcountry camping in the surrounding Coronado National Forest. This surrounding forestland is also home to some more established campgrounds, as well as a relatively healthy collection of cabins.

When a hotel is the aim, those who are searching for Chiricahua National Monument lodging won't find any hotels within the park boundaries. The nearby towns of Wilcox and Pearce are good places to find low-cost hotels and motels, while more substantial lodging establishments can be found in and around Tucson. One of the more interesting Chiricahua National Monument lodging options is the George Walker House, and any and all visitors to the area will want to keep it in mind. More a vacation rental than a hotel, this home is on the fringes of the Chiricahua National Monument Park, and since it only welcomes one party at a time, the privacy is hard to beat. The George Walker House isn't luxurious, and it lacks a television, but that isn't enough to keep tourists away. Booking well in advance is recommended.

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