The Chiricahua Mountains are a “sky island,” a mountain range surrounded by flat grassland “seas.” The mountains being an island floating amid grassy desert seas. From the top you can really get this filling. This is true of many mountain ranges in this area, but Chiricahua National Monument stands out due to its wonderful rock formations.
These formations began about 27 million years ago when the Turkey Creek volcano spewed ash over 1,200 square miles. Ash from these eruptions melted together creating layers of gray rhyolite. Cooling and later uplifting created joints and cracks in the rock. Millions of years of weathering, heating and cooling, ice wedging and simple erosion enlarged the cracks, and eventually the softer material washed away leaving these wonderful spires, pinnacles and balanced rocks.
I mistakenly called these formations hoodoos, and even corrected someone else, but have since learned that these formations do not qualify as hoodoos. Still not 100% sure why as Hoodoo is defined as a column or pinnacle of weathered rock, seems to apply to me, but who am I to argue…
We visited this magical place with Anne and Ron, special people who are our family, but who we also like to call friends.
We enjoyed a couple of hikes while in the park. The first was a nice nature trail that circled Massai Point the summit of the park, reached via an 8 mile scenic drive. This was our first introduction to the park and gave great views of the immensity of the rock formations.
There was also this nice rock formation to the north that is said to look like Cochise (one of the more famous Chiricahua Apache), it takes a little imagination, but his head dress is to the right, nose in the middle and chin to the left including some teeth???
Later we hiked to the “grotto” where piled together rocks form their own little cave.
That hike was very nice allowing us to be in and among the many rock formations. Many of the formations look like faces, animals, balanced rocks, etc. Here are a few of the formations we passed.
The some of the first non-native American settlers in the area were Neil and Emma Erickson, Swedish immigrants who came in 1888. They named their homestead Faraway Ranch as it was far-away from everything. Later their descendants turned the ranch into a guest quarters where travelers were welcomed from 1917 until 1973, the visitors enjoyed birding, horseback riding and hiking on the trails and generally relaxing. Below is the original cabin and the home they later built.
This quote is from one of the Erickson’s daughters Lillian, describing the life they built here in Chiricahua “The rugged strength of the West united with the gentleness, the culture and the enduring fortitude of the East.”
Peach Love and Chiricahua ROCKS!!!