Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Chiricahua-Land of Standing Up Rocks

©Bert Gildart: Chiricahua… Certainly it’s not one of the first places one thinks of when one thinks of national park administered areas, but let me say right up front that it is one of the most beautiful parks Janie and I have ever visited.


Land of Standing Up Rocks, as seen on Echo Canyon Loop

Apache Indians who roamed the area called the myriad of rocks, the “Land of Standing Up Rocks,” and that is certainly a good name for this national monument, which is located in Arizona. Others might call the park an “Island in the Sky,” and for any who have read John McPhee’s book Basin and Range that might also be a good name, for Chiricahua is part of that type of terrain that was created by buckling from tectonic plates. (hope my memory serves me correctly!). Mountains were formed and the separation tended to create assemblages of flora and fauna with unique features.


At any rate, one reason Chiricahua may not be too well known is that it is located in a relatively remote part of Arizona, and Bonita Canyon Campground cannot easily accommodate RVs. In fact, to reach this site, we had to descend two concrete fords and as we did, the skid plates on the bottom of the Airstream screeched as we begin ascending the ford. Sounded horrible, but no damage done.


There's nothing from the highway to suggest such a maze.

At 28 feet, our Airstream travel trailer is about the largest sized rig that will fit in one of these relatively small camp spaces. In fact, most of the RVs here are much smaller and we’re in our space only after much maneuvering. So confined is the space that we were able to extend one of our stabilizing jacks but a few inches before it hit one of the volcanic rocks that form the beautiful rock formations that dominate the landscape.


So far the highlight of our first day afield was a four-mile hike along a trial comprising the Echo Canyon loop. The loop begins along the Echo Canyon Trail, picks up the Hailstone Trail and then concludes with a short hike along the Ed Riggs Trail. Each of the three components provides experiences that are suggestive of their name.

The first portion, the Echo Canyon trail winds through one of the most amazing assemblages of rocks you will ever see. Some may be reminded of a hike through Bryce Canyon or even portions of the Blackhills, but these rhyolite formations are unique. Holler out and you’ll hear an echo.

Of volcanic origin, rocks in Echo Canyon are tough, and beautiful in the shapes they assume. Huge elongated egg-shaped rocks perch precariously atop other rocks of similar configuration-and we often had to wonder what forces continued to hold them upright. Other shapes that come to mind from the various formations include mushrooms, organ pipes, spires,

The Hailstone component of the loop is named for a small stretch of large hailstones, formed from the tendency of dust to adhere to small particles created by volcanic activity.


A world of fantasy

Finally, but certainly not least, the Ed Riggs component of the trail was named for the first ranger to patrol Organ Pipe National Monument. Riggs was an early homesteader in the area and his place is a National Historic Landmark. Riggs designed many of the trails in the park, and after you hike several in the area, you’ll appreciate the man’s creativity and capabilities.

Despite the fact this park is small (12,000 acres in total), we’re here for several days. Geronimo and Cochise roamed the area, and not far away, Geronimo made his last surrender in 1886. The park is reminiscent of their lives, and those who follow my blog know we have a special interest in Native Americans. In fact, we have an entire page devoted to the Gwich’in, a tribe in Alaska.

Note: When we depart this park, the campground host says they’ll allow us to drive the wrong way down this one-way road, so our skid plates won’t drag again. “Just let us know and I’ll be at the head of the drive so there won’t be a traffic jam.”

They’re joking about the traffic, of course, but those who come here once, tend to come back.



*Organ Pipe Retrospective


One Response to “Chiricahua-Land of Standing Up Rocks”

  1. Rich Charpentier Says:


    Great rocks! I thought the Granite Dells were cool. Definitely going to have to take a trip down there!