Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Land of Standing Up Rocks

Today's Chiricahua National Monument was once called the "standing up rocks" by the Chiricahua Apache. Formed 27 million years ago by eruptions from the Turkey Creek Volcano, these pinnacles are a wonderland of rocks in South Eastern Arizona.

We took the 8:30am shuttle offered at the visitor center to the end of the road at Massai Point and hiked the 10 mile Big Loop back to our truck. If you plan on doing the same, I recommend you call and get your name on the list for a seat on the shuttle van. They don't mention the shuttle on the website, but they run one or two vans each morning at 8:30 for those who wish to hike the length of the canyon one-way.

For the 10 miles (exactly!) we took Echo Canyon, Hailstone, Mushroom Rock, Big Balanced Rock, Heart of Rocks Loop, Sarah Deming and Lower Rhyolite Canyon trails. If you don't have the time or inclination to do 10 miles, I recommend the Echo Canyon/Hailstone/Ed Riggs loop (just park at the Echo Canyon picnic area, shuttle is not required).

I'll let the pictures tell the story of our wonderous day. If you are ever in this part of the country and you love amazing rock formations, you gotta check it out!

Right from the start we were WOWed!
Rhyolite pinnacles everywhere, tinged with bright green lichen.

This section was called the Grottos. 
At some points the trail continued along the edge of the spires.

Sometimes we were right among all the towering rocks.

Balancing giants were everywhere!

Here, the trail ran below the massive rocks.

Mushroom rock.

A large portion  of the monument land had been ravaged by fire in 2011.
In some areas we could see acres of stumps burned to the ground,
with only the largest tree skeletons still standing.

Dos Cabezas peaks in the distance.
Amazing balancing rocks in the foreground!

Strong guy!

On Lower Rhyolite Canyon trail heading back to the visitor center,
the opposite canyon wall showed multiple layers of pinnacles.


  1. Love it! Thanks for sharing your experience and wonderful photos!

  2. We just left Chiricahua!!! Sorry we missed you.
    It is an amazing place... and the campground is well shaded and cozy.
    Box Canyon Mark

    1. The campground looked great! Too bad we are too large to fit!

  3. Hey thank you for taking us to the trails we missed. Wasn't it amazing, the balancing act of them rocks!
    Great photos too.

  4. This is just a magnificent place. Those rocks are amazing! So many balancing rocks. It must have been very difficult to just choose a few for the blog. Glad you added two to FB. Sorry we didn't get to this area. We have so many places to visit next spring.

    Thanks for taking us along!