Chiricahua National Monument – A Short Drive From A World Class BnB
Chiricahua National Monument is a sky island that is located in the southeastern part of Arizona. It is a short day trip from Down By The River B and B. This park was burned in a wildfire during June of 2011 and it will take a while for all the trees to be big and shade the trails again. But there are areas that weren’t affected by the flames and one of them is the picnic area at Massai Point at over 6800 feet elevation. Massai Point is also the trail head for the nature trail, the Ed Riggs and the Echo Canyon trails that lead into the canyon. The rock formations along these trails into the canyon are impressive.
This entire area was created by a volcanic blast 27 million years ago that was 1000 times larger than the Mt. St. Helens eruption. The 100 cubic miles of material that was ejected during the eruption covered more than 1200 square miles of the surrounding countryside. Over time the Chiricahua National Monument terrain has eroded forming hoodoos, balanced rocks, and formations similar to what you find in Bryce Canyon in Utah. There is a difference in the color of the rocks found in the Chiricahuas, The rocks are brownish instead of the pink you will find in Bryce.
From the picnic area it is a short walk to the observation building at Massai Point. From this location you can look south and see the rim of the caldera of the Turkey Creek Volcano. The view to the west is of the Sulphur Springs Valley, Cochise Stronghold and the Rincon Mountains near Tucson about 70 miles away. There is one feature that can be seen from this observation area and it is named Cochise Head. The rocky edifice looks like a head lying down. Since the fire went through you have a better view of the feature. Looking off to the east you can look into New Mexico. The Chiricahua National Monument is a short distance from the border with New Mexico.
Besides the natural features in the park, you can spot a variety of animals and birds. The Mexican Jays are always around looking for ways to steal your lunch. Ground squirrels are also nearby to clean up crumbs that may be left by picnickers. On our way out of the park we have seen bears crossing the road and deer feeding near the entrance station. If you keep an eye out there is no telling what you might see. As we were going up the canyon to Massai Point I spotted some wild flowers. On the way back down I was able to stop and get some photographs. One with the redflowers was easy to identify (the Beardlip Penstemon) but the other purplish one I had never seen before. After consultation with a friend we were told that this was most likely a type of Monarda. After searching I did find it and it is also called a Wild Bergamot or Bee Balm.
After leaving the Chiricahua National Monument you have a couple of choices for returning home. One is to head south and end up on Arizona 191 and stop at Sandy’s Café for ice cream. Along that route is the Lawrence Dunham Vineyard but check to see if they will be open when you are in the area or make a reservation with them. From there take 191 north to Dragoon Road and then west to the I-10. The other way back is to go back to Willcox and the restaurants and wineries in that area. Either way it is a nice day trip for you to enjoy the majesty of nature. So check out Down By The River B and B and see why we are perfect for day trips in Cochise County. Book Today!