Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona

We visited Chiricahua National Monument more than 10 years ago.We camped at the Pinery Campground in the National Forest nearby. The Bonita Campground at the Monument spaces being a little too closely packed for us. It was winter,but the weather was pleasant(although a little cold at the Pinery's 7'000' elevation). At the monument, we found out that our little dog was only allowed on the Faraway Ranch trail- the only trail that doesn't feature Chiricahua's well known rock formations(called "hoodoos" by some). We did the hike and the scenic drive to Massai Point,which were both nice enough, and then went on our way, a little disappointed. We finally returned over our recent spring break. This time we stayed at Bonita: it's still a litte too close for comfort,but we were worried the Pinery Campground was likely under snow. We did the Natural Bridge Trail the first day.It was good hike,but nothing really spectacular.The next day we did the the Big Loop starting from the visitor center and going counter clockwise( I highly recommend this direction). It's absolutely a classic hike of our National Park system. It's also very popular. Well,more correctly,sections of it are very popular-even on a Thursday in the usually very windy month of March.Other parts such as the first several miles on the Rhyolite and Sarah Deming trails were devoid of other hikers.You'll probably get tired of taking pictures before the scenery runs out. It's really that good. Your legs will probably get tired too as it's about 12 miles or so from start to finish. Slow down and enjoy. If time is limited,your best bet is the Echo Canyon Trail.

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