Chiricahua National Monument is a park within the National Park Service located near Hilltop, AZ east of Tucson. We spent one day here and found ourselves wishing we had planned more time to stay there. Ashby and I both agree that it is our favorite stop on our journey so far.
“The Land of Standing Up Rocks”
Upon entering the park, the ecosystem transforms from desert floor to a forest with towering rock formations on all sides. The monument’s main attraction is its thousands of rock towers within the mountain range. Once you are there, it does not take long to understand why the Chiricahua Apaches named this area “The Land of Standing Up Rocks”.
Hiking Echo Canyon and Heart of Rocks
After entering the park we stopped at the visitor center for our stamp and to discuss which hikes were the most scenic. The rangers were very helpful and suggested we hike to an area called “Heart of Rocks” from the Echo Canyon trail head. From the visitor center we drove up into the mountains to the trail head. Shortly after starting our hike we came to a fork in the trail and, without consulting the map, took a right towards Echo Canyon. It turns out this was a wrong turn but in the end, it was a good mistake.
The Echo Canyon trail leads you down into a wooded valley past some natural grottos formed underneath the giant standing rock formations. Eventually, we met up with the trail leading toward the “Heart of Rocks” area. The “Heart of Rocks” loop is one mile and leads you through some of the most interesting rock formations in the park. Giant boulders that are impossibly balanced on one point and a stunning view of what had to be thousands of rock spires are a humbling testament to earth’s natural wonder.
At the end of our time here, we both agreed that we wish we could stay longer and continue to explore the monument. But as we are only in week two of our year long journey across the west, we decided to continue to the next awesome location. Chiricahua National Monument is an awesome stop that may not be so well known but is definitely worth a visit.
For more photos of our visit to Chiricahua National Monument click this link to our photo blog.