It is an amazing place and there is a Rest Stop there. Stop and enjoy the view. The rock formations are amazing!
Shortly before this stop, MJ's trouble light came on. We checked the manual and followed all the guidance without any change in status. We had no choice but to head out since our next stop was not too far at Willcox. Our plan was to stop at Fort Willcox RV Park. It is another Passport America park....nothing fancy but full hookups for a reasonable price and fine for a day or two stop. It turned out to be a good stop for us. When we mentioned MJ's RV problem, the park manager sent us in to town to a shop where her husband worked with the comment that we should ask for him and we would get great service at a reasonable price. Off we went. She was right. Her husband hooked the RV up to a fancy diagnostic machine twice, went over everything, and finally concluded that it was one of those flukes that occasionally happen. Didn't charge her a penny and sent us on our way telling us to come right back if the light came back on.
We drove back to the RV park, hooked up her RV, grabbed a lunch snack, and headed out to......
Chiricahua National Monument is the reason we planned this stop. We saw it and decided it would be worth a stop.....and were we ever right! It was about a 40 minute drive but well worth it. Before we got more than a 100 feet into the Monument, we learned about the Erickson's. They were Swedish immigrants who established a homestead here in 1887, right after they got married. It was known as Faraway Ranch.....named by one of their daughters, Lillian, because it was "so far away" from everything. She had a brother and sister. Everyone eventually moved away except for Lillian who became the "Lady Boss of Faraway Ranch". In 1923, she married Ed Riggs and they ran a ranch for visitors so they could enjoy the beautiful scenery. Their interest in this area was instrumental in the establishment of the Chiricahua National Monument in 1924.
The Erickson family is all buried here with the exception of Lillian.
Louis Prue was buried here in 1892.
Our second stop was the Faraway Ranch house. It was a short walk from a parking area with picnic spots.
Unfortunately, we were here on a weekday and tours are only offered on weekends this time of year.
But we could still see the homestead and look in the windows.
This was nearby and appeared to be a house used for a ranger. There was an original settlers cabin about a mile down a trail but we didn't go there.
More info about the ranch.
We could already see that the scenery here was going to be special.
We stopped at the Visitor's Center and had a nice chat with the woman on duty. I learned something very interesting. Did you know that the only real difference between a National Park and a National Monument was that a National Park was established by Congress and a National Monument is established by Presidential Order. They are managed and staffed virtually the same way. So.....don't pass up those National Monuments because you think they aren't as fantastic places as a National Park. It sure made me look at them differently. We figured we had enough time to get all the way to the top and most of the way back down before it was fully dark.
Volcanic uplift was the beginning of all this fantastic scenery. Add in water and freezing air and you get cracks that create unique formations.
There were columns, and pinnacles, and rocks balanced on rocks everywhere we looked as we drove up the switchback road.
There were numerous trails for hiking along the route.
The scenery just kept getting more awe-inspiring.
Then we made it to the top where the distant views were spectacular. Everything below the light open space is actually views of distant mountains.
Kind of looks like a large crowd of people lined up.
In addition to the Monument, Congress established a Chiricahua Mountains Wilderness in 1976 with the safeguarding of 9440 acres of the Monument.
There are lots of trees here too.
We made it all the way to the top where there is a circular parking lot with views in every direction. Neither of us had any trouble breathing here but it was getting a bit cool.
Can you see the rabbit taking off to the right? I wasn't fast enough in pulling the camera out.
This formation is called Cochise Head. He is lying on his back and the rough area is his face. See the actual picture below.
Okay, use your imagination and you should be able to see his head with his face looking up.
We just couldn't get enough of the views.
This is a picture of Harris Mountain. The background mountains are pretty impressive.
When you look west from here, you see the Dragoon Mountains which were the stronghold of the Chiricahua's under Cochise.
The sunset was just as beautiful from the top as the ranger told us it would be.
On the way back down, we droved through the campground nearer to the bottom. It was a beautiful wooded area, fairly large, and we were very surprised to see so many campers because we felt like we were nearly alone in the park. Just saw a couple other cars. There are no hookups although there are several places to get water. We saw tents, trailers, and small motorhomes. It wouldn't work for a large RV.....I believe the limit was 29 feet. Although it was pretty chilly by then, there were lots of campers cooking dinner and enjoying campfires.
We were so glad we decided to go ahead and visit here and I have a whole new perspective on National Monuments.