Hi guys! My name is Frank and I'm a Wild Tribute ambassador. For those who don’t know me, I am best known for my mini-minivan life (check out my travels here!). I took a hatchback Honda Fit and converted it into a micro-camper and have driven coast to coast in the USA a few times now!
Many people underestimate National Monuments simply because they are not national parks. These places are still managed by the national park service, they just tend to be smaller (and less crowded). That's why I'm excited to share my thoughts on this incredible national monument.
Monsoon Sunset at Massai Point Photo@ NPS/R. Stewart
Welcome to my article on Chiricahua National Monument!
The name alone sparks the spirit of wonder and adventure. Planning a trip from Dallas to San Diego, I saw this place wasn’t too far off the track from my route and decided to stop. And I am glad I did. The greenish hoodoos make the place look like a Bryce Canyon from another universe. Chiricahua National Monument truly has a sense of enchantment.
Like other times I've visited National Parks, I decided to camp outside of the park. I do this often when traveling because not only do I seldom utilize a full campsite, but it saves both money and a campsite for someone else. I see camping as a means to get closer to a place I want to explore.
Rhyolite Rocks @NPS
Hiking around these Enchanted Rocks
Arriving at the park before sunrise gave me the chance to hike with a more quiet environment. I also got to witness the morning sunlight dance around the hoodoos as the sun got higher on the horizon.
There are many trails to explore, but in my opinion, the best is by far the Echo Trail. You will get to walk up close and personal within the hoodoos, exploring grottos, standing on expansive vistas and narrow passageways. There is a separate trail that takes you to a natural bridge, although it's less than spectacular when compared to others in the country. I hiked a section called “the big loop” which connects almost everything in the park and is 13 miles.
I always make hiking a priority and see what catches my eye. Photography is a fun way to enjoy nature. The top of the rock was an obvious favorite for me, especially during golden hour when things started to turn the brightest of colors. The green moss on the rocks really came to life. I find there is something that makes you feel powerful yet incredibly small when you explore an expansive area like Chiricahua national monument.
Cochise Head @NPS/R. Stewart
Highlight of the Trip
The highlight of this trip came quite unexpectedly. Hiking has a way of relaxing the mind and always puts me in a good mood. This alone makes any hiking trip worth it. This time I started the day completely alone.
I was the only car in the parking lot. After some time hiking on the big loop, I turned the corner and found the little cave like alcove described earlier. The sun was at the perfect position to cast a ray directly into the darkness of the cave. This got my mind thinking about the contrast of darkness and light. Many times we feel comfortable in darkness, but light is necessary. Light draws others in, light reveals and light purifies. In a dark campsite, people will gather around a campfire because of the light. If you need to fix a small part of your camping gear, you will use a well lit area to seek out the flaw and fix the issue. Finally, UV light purifies water. Metaphorically we need to live in the light so we can have these benefits in our lives.
My Top 5 Things to do at Chiricahua National Monument
1. Hiking the Echo Canyon Loop is an absolute must-do (3.3 mile, moderate hike)
2. Go to the visitor center and learn how Chiricahua National Monument was formed.
3. Hike the Natural Bridge Trail and think about the unique power of erosion (4.8 miles, moderate hike).
4. Take the Big Look Trail and see the hoodoos from a new angle (9.5 miles, strenuous hike).
5. Explore the surrounding canyons and valleys.
Natural Bridge NPS C. Bubar
Know Before you Go
1. It gets hot at Chiricahua national monument, so bring water and plan for the sun. Hiking early provides you with cooler weather.
2. The stars are super bright out here. Carve out some time in your evening for stargazing. It will totally take your breath away!
3. There is an entry fee for Chiricahua national monument. It’s pretty low – and the national parks pass covers entry!
4. Read up on the history of Chiricahua national monument before you go. People have been using the area for thousands of years. There are many legends, myths and stories.
Frank grew up in the midwest and spent his summers and falls exploring the lakes and forests of Michigan. All of his photos are with an iPhone! He hasn't always been interested in the outdoors and art. It wasn’t until he started traveling in the mini-mini-van that he started to combine these loves. Check out his travels on his instagram @speakingquitefrankly.