If you’re not driving, fly into Tucson, rent a car, and get ready to rock! You’ll drive two hours to Chiricahua National Monument
, which more than lives up to its two unofficial names—the Wonderland of Rocks and the Land of Standing Up Rocks. During the 1860s and 1870s, the Chiricahua Mountains sheltered the Apache tribe, led by chiefs Cochise and Geronimo, as they resisted colonization by white settlers. Before that, twenty-seven million years ago, ash from a volcanic eruption compacted into rock, creating fantastical formations with sculpted pinnacles, mushroom-capped hoodoos, and precariously balanced rock towers that have been given names like Wall Street and Big Balanced Rock.
The area is one of southern Arizona’s most beloved hiking destinations, with popular trails
such as Echo Canyon, the Upper and Lower Ryolite canyons, and the Heart of Rocks Loop. Wildlife viewing is best along Bonita Creek Trail, where you might spot deer, coatimundis, and flocks of migrating birds. In the Faraway Ranch Historic District
on the east side of the monument, you’ll see the restored, rough-log Stafford Cabin which gives a birds-eye view of pioneer life in this rugged territory. [Note: tours are currently cancelled.]
Part of what makes this destination so fascinating is how isolated it is, but many visitors combine a trip here with a tasting tour of the Willcox wine region. Book a stay in an 1873 historic adobe building at nearby Dos Cabezas Retreat
, located off Highway 186 just south of Willcox, about 40 minutes from Chiricahua.