Chiricahua National Monument

A national monument with towering vertical columns of rock formations. Hike on 17 miles of trails, camp at Bonita Canyon Campground, or visit the Faraway Ranch (a two-room cabin from 1886).

Stand among the “Wonderland of Rocks” at the Chiricahua National Monument. In this territory, you’ll find yourself in almost 12,000 acres of unadulterated Arizona nature. Located near the town of Willcox (about 90 miles from Tucson), travelers from all over experience this site of unique rock formations and Arizona history.

History & Nature

This area was the homeland of the Chiricahua Apache. They came into this region in the 1400's, where they used these mountain ranges as an area of refuge, to find food and live off the land. They migrated with the weather in their Southern Arizona stronghold.

Visit to see the results of something that happened 27 million years ago. Around that time, the volcanic eruption at Turkey Creek threw an enormous amount of ash into the air that fell back to the earth and eventually hardened into volcanic rock. Over the years, that rock eroded into a wonderland of rock spires which creates a kind of rock garden you might expect to have been designed by Dr. Seuss. The spires – precarious, surreal pinnacles that can be several hundred feet in height – dominate the park’s landscape, while caves, mountains and lava flows add variety to the setting.

The rocks are composed of Rhyolite tuff, which is volcanic in origin. When water washes away the soft tuff, these pinnacle rocks are formed. Sometimes they look like they are balancing, some are in the shapes of ducks or Thor's Hammer. Every twist and turn of these trails will lead visitors to another vista of vastly different shapes and sizes of rocks.

A truck drives through a dirt trail in a desert full of Saguaros.

Different rock formations at Chiricahua National Monument.

Things To Do

Take the eight-mile scenic drive to see the beauty of the Chiricahua National Monument, ending at Massai Point for 360-degree views of the mountain range. The monument is home to a large variety of birds, which makes it an attraction for birders and nature lovers alike. Some of the species that visitors can see are the Mexican Jays, Cactus Wrens, and Sandhill Cranes.

Hop out of the car and into the scene and explore the 17 miles of trails by hike. Whether you are looking for a 15-minute stroll or an all day adventure, there is a hike for every type of explorer. Either way, do not forget your camera!

A lot of visitors also come to see Fairaway Ranch, which was one of the original homesteads in the area. Emma Peterson immigrated from Sweden when she was 29 years old and married Neal Erickson. They raised a family in Bonita Canyon, where their two daughters opened and ran a guest ranch, which would become the very successful and well-known Faraway Ranch.

While you’re in the area, stop by the historic pioneer homestead known as Faraway Ranch. This ranch looks like its pioneer-day owners, the Erickson family, just stepped away for some errands.

"I think one of the most extraordinary things about this park is the night sky. Since we are a sky-island, there is no light pollution. If you have never seen the Milky Way, the constellations, and you want to get in touch with the galaxy, come out to Chiricahua. Just bring your eyes and your spirit, and just look up."

– Theresa Ferraro, Park Guide at Chiricahua National Monument

Chiricahua National Monument

Places to stay near Chiricahua National Monument

Chiricahua National Monument is an easy day trip from Tucson, and even quicker from Willcox (about 30 miles away). Either city offers a multitude of lodging options. You could bring a tent and stay at a campground inside the park at the Bonita Campground, which requires reservations to be made prior to visiting, online at If the campground is fully-booked, there are plenty of dispersed campsites in Coronado National Forest near the entrance of the monument.

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