The wandering chick
Land of Standing Up Rocks
...Chiricahua National Monument

As you enter the Chiricahua from the otherwise flat landscape, you'll understand why the Chiricahua Apaches called this vertical island "the land of standing up rocks." Rhyolite rock formations formed 27 million years ago surround you as you drive the eight-mile scenic drive within the park.

For a close up, several hiking trails wind through the sculpted pinnacles, allowing you delightful panoramas of the 12,000 acres of unaltered wilderness.

Near the entrance to the park is Faraway Ranch and its few remaining buildings, built and homesteaded by Swedish immigrants and later turned into a guest ranch.

Located deep in Arizona's southeast corner, the park is not the only highlight. The drive in via State Highways 186, 181 and 191 is spectacular, offering views of the vast grassland and the Dragoon Mountains in the distance.

horses in grassland
There is very little indication of the stark contrast of the rock formations that await you as you drive the scenic highways that lead to the Chiricahua National Monument.
highways near the park
bird in tree
the Dragoon Mountains in the distance
the Dragoon Mountains
The not-too-distant range seen to the west of the highways are the Dragoon Mountains.
distant mountains
distant mountains
cow in pasture
bird in tree
heading into the park
Faraway Ranch
One of the first glimpses of the "standing up rocks" is seen looming over the Faraway Ranch.
Faraway Ranch was built by Swedish immigrants Neil and Emma Erickson in 1888. By the 1920s, their oldest daughter Lillian and her husband Ed Riggs bought the settlement and turned it into a guest ranch as it so remained until 1973. Upon their deaths, the ranch and land were incorporated into the National Park Service.
ranch's windmill
I rather doubt that Pebbles, Tip, Calico and the other cows cared - or even knew - which stalls were theirs. The markers must have been created for the amusement of the guests.
milk pails lined up
road leading into the park
named stalls in the ranch's barn
Okay, here we go into the park!!! Pronounced "Cheer-ee-cow-ah," the Apaches had a different name:"Land of the standing up rocks." Others might call them hoo-doos. This is the main entrance into the park which comprises an 8-mile scenic drive.
Organ pipe formation
close up of rock formations
Some of the rock formations were named by the American people based on what the eye may see. This one was nicknamed the Organ Pipe formation.
The rocks were formed when a volcano spewed ash over the entire area. The ash particles melted together and formed layers of gray rock called rhyolite. Thousands of years of weathering, cooling, ice wedging, water erosion and other natural conditions have enlarged the cracks as well as worn away weaker material in the rock, constantly sculpting them into spires, pinnacles and myriad other shapes. And so will it continue for eons to come.
rock formations
rock formations
rock formations
rock formations
hiking trail
At the end of the 8-mile scenic drive is Masaii Point. Looking west, the sunsets are said to be super.
along one of the hiking trails
rock formations
Hiking trails meander around huge rock formations, offerning great panoramic views as well as close ups of the pinnacles and sculptures. Some 17 miles of hiking trails are available, ranging from wheel-chair accessible to strenuous. Most seem to be in the moderate range. Whereas in this picture, the trail may look like it is on the edge of a cliff, it is not. If you're afraid of heights and drop-offs, as I am, not to worry on this Echo Canyon Loop Trail.
rock formations
rock formations
rock formations
along a hiking trail
"Son, how many times do I have to tell you: Stand up straight, " said the solid-as-a-rock mom.
sunset over the Dragoon Mountains
Sunset over the Dragoon Mountains
sunset over the Dragoon Mountains
sunset over the Dragoon Mountains

To see more locations in Arizona, please return to the Arizona home page.

Or,, you may wish to visit another location below.

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