Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chiricahua National Monument

It is rather nice to spend a Saturday in February in a space as spectacular as the Chiricahua National Monument. Like many Arizona mountain ranges, it is an island in the desert. The flora marries the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts with the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Madre. The fauna is dominated by an amazing variety of birds.

The two main areas of interest are the Heart of Rocks and Echo Canyon, both highlighted by what the Chiricahua Apache refer to as "standing up rocks."

The Heart of Rocks hike is about 7 miles round-trip up & down Rhyolite Canyon, starting at 5400 feet and topping out at over 7000 feet. This day's hike experienced fallen snow at around 6200 feet. In the Heart of Rocks loop it was 3-4 inches. The pinnacles are just outstanding, a classic Arizona hike.

In Echo Canyon, there is a neat grotto, which is the destination for most hikers. Spend the time and do the full 3.5 mile loop -- Echo Canyon Trail -> Hailstone Trail -> Ed Riggs Trail. You will see some amazing rocks and canyons.

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