Chiricahua National Monument
After we left Tucson, but before the weather defrosted, we headed east to a horrible little town called Willcox. We stayed in a lifeless RV park, just about freezing to death to the sound of trains. The next day after getting supplies at a local Safeway, (where the water under the stucco on the front of the building had frozen and so all the stucco had popped off,) we headed south through cattle country to a little known national monument that Paul had seen signs for on past trips.
Chiricahua national monument is a place you’ve probably never heard of, which is ok, because I hadn’t either, and it’s also pretty much in the middle of nowhere, about 2 hours east of Tucson, and then another hour south from Willcox.
The park is in a mountainous valley surrounded by lowland cattle ranches, in what’s known as a “sky island.” It was a famous hiding spot for the Apache Indian’s in the mid 1800’s, and after taking a hike in the canyons, i could see why. They actually have rangers ride horses here, because it’s the easiest way to get people who’ve injured themselves hiking back to camp. The park itself is a long valley, with rock formations that reminded me of Bryce Canyon, only on a smaller scale. We camped in a lovely oak tree campground that i think was $12 a night, which is so far the cheapest place we’ve stayed, and one of the prettiest. The park is full of animals and apparently has coati, (which along with a javelina and an armadillo are on my animal sighting trip wish list.) and small bears, neither of which we saw.
It's like a small Bryce Canyon, but with less crowds.
The best part of the winter bit of our trip so far, besides finally getting the gas heater to work, is the lack of crowds at parks. We took an amazing 3 mile hike where we saw one group of people on our way down, and that was it. There was also a lot of snow, but it was a bit warmer than previous days, about 50 degrees, so the hike was pretty enjoyable.