Chiricahua National Monument - Land of Standing Up Rocks
Daylight was slipping as we neared Chiricahua National Monument, and we still needed to find a place to camp for the evening. We pulled up the iOverlander app and found some potential camp spots on BLM land within 5 miles of the park entrance.
The dirt road leading to these spots was washboarded and a little rough, but nothing that kept us from pressing on. The first site we had bookmarked on iOverlander was on private land and not a dispersed campsite, so we continued a few miles down the road until we found a perfect spot nestled in some oak trees. Double-checked on Gaia and found we were on Colorado National Forest land which you are allowed to camp on without issue.
Thankfully, whoever stayed at this camp spot before us had left some firewood piled next to the stone fire ring. As a result of their kindness on this chilly night, we were able to quickly get a fire going after setting up our rooftop tent. We couldn't see much of our surroundings once the sun went down, and it was getting colder, so we made an easy dinner of soup and sandwiches before going to bed.
In the morning, we were able to see the oak forest surrounding the camp site. It was beautiful! We let Moose off leash as we explored the hiking trail leading from the campsite down to a dry creek bed. There was a nice group tent campsite along this trail that could easily accommodate several ground tents.Before leaving, we made sure to gather some firewood and restock the pile for the next person to use this spot.
We made our way into Chiricahua NM, and headed straight to the visitors center where we picked up a patch for our Jeep, got our park stamp and a map of the monument. From the visitors center we drove the 8-mile scenic drive up to the summit, Massai Point. There was plenty of parking at the summit as well as clean public restrooms. We chose to hike the Massai Nature Trail that led you around the peak of the summit. There were a few entrances to the trail, which is not wheelchair accessible. If you have the ability to make the hike, we highly recommend it. The views of the valleys are amazing and the rock formations really make you feel small.
Chiricahua National Monument was home to the Chokonen, one of the four main bands of Chiricahua Apaches. The rock pinnacles that make up a major portion the landscape were called "standing up rocks" by the Chiricahua Apache. These pinnacles were and continue to be sculpted by erosion - the forces of nature, and are something to be seen.
After we finished the hike, we drove back down the mountain and drove through the small tree-lined campground that is located in the park - Bonita Canyon Campground. It is very nice and clean but is suitable for smaller RV’s or tents, plus a reservation is required in advance.
After our visit, we took a shortcut through Apache Pass, saving us a few driving hours as we made our way to Rockhound State Park campground in Deming, New Mexico. We were able to reserve the last campsite available that night and quickly took advantage of the hot showers before even setting up camp and turning in for the night.
- Chiricahua National Monument: https://www.nps.gov/chir/index.htm
- Rockhound State Park Camping: https://www.emnrd.nm.gov/spd/find-a-park/rockhound-state-park/