Chiricahua Monument: Rugged Beauty for your real travel adventures by Bonnie and Bill Neely

Crossing the US on Highway 10, plan an overnight or a week’s camping in Willcox, AZ, an authentic Old West town founded in 1880 at an elevation of about 4,700 feet. The old saloon in the heart of Cocheese and Geronimo Apache Indian country, is still a center of tourist and local activities. At the original carved-up, wooden saloon bar you can still buy drinks, but today they are cappuccinos, expressos, and lattes, and the very best homemade cinnamon rolls you ever tasted, made fresh daily by Beverly. The store, known as “Claim Jumper Espresso Bar,” is also an antique shop, “Mother Lode,” (520) 384-2875, and also the place to get information or book a tour. Open daily except Christmas and Thanksgiving Days, it is located across from the old railroad station. There are several other quaint shops worth visiting on this cowboy strip from the past. It’s present claim to fame is the childhood home of Rex Allen and museum to his “Arizona Cowboy” Country Western Music fame. There are many other points of interest in Willcox. Call to find out what you can choose for the time you travel: 1-800-200-2272. You’ll find La :laya Mirage, a bird-watchers’ serendipity; Fort Bowie National Historic Site; Dos Cabezas Ghost Town; Pearce Ghost Town; Cochise Stronghold; Cowboy Hall of Fame.
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While in this area you have the opportunity to visit a “Wonderland of Rocks” and what the Apaches called the “Land of Standing Up Rocks.” It is one of the most amazing formations we have ever seen and was formed by tremendous volcanic eruptions about 27 million years ago. Wind and water have been the master sculptors ever since. Head southeast on Highway 186 for a 36 mile drive through desert/ranching scenery as you approach the Chiricahua Mountains, frequently hazed over by dust or severe fronts moving in rapidly. In the Chiricajua National Monument you’ll find incredible rock formations, spires, chimneys of great heights and balanced rocks which defy gravity and all visual laws! You can drive through in several hours, or better still, enjoy some of the seventeen miles of trails for bird watching, hiking, picnicking, camping, and amazing photographs and views. Snows, rushing water, and mud slides are possible depending on the season and the weather, so you may want to call ahead. Take proper hiking equipment for weather changes as you are in the high desert, above 6,000 feet.
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You’ll find an interesting Visitor Center and well-marked trails, excellent restrooms and a beautiful campground in the thick forest of evergreens which have managed successful growth from the winter snows giving moisture to the rich desert soil. The beautiful campground has no hook-ups, and RV’s over 28 feet will have difficulty. For more information call (520) 824-3560