In southeastern Arizona is Chiricahua National Monument, a geologic wonder. Located in the Chiricahua Mountains, the monument is about 40 miles south east of Willcox, Arizona.
Photographs from Chiricahua National Monument
Why is Chiricahua special?
This area in the Chiricahua Mountains is a geologically unique landscape of hoodoos and pinnacles. Therefore, almost 12,000 acres of these special features were designated as a National Monument in 1924.
These hoodoos and pinnacles are the remnants of an immense volcanic eruption 27 million years ago. This eruption deposited over 2000 feet of extremely hot ash and pumice! And this extreme heat caused the volcanic debris to hardened into a rock called rhyolitic tuff. Finally, this tuff eroded over time to form the otherworldly landscape we see today. An article called, “Geological History of the Chiricahua Mountains,” provides a nice and concise explanation of the complex geologic processes that led to the formation of the Monument.
Areas to photograph
There are many photographic opportunities in the monument. For instance, take the paved, eight-mile Bonita Canyon Drive up to Massai Point. From this high point, there are many expansive views into Rhyolite Canyon, adjacent valleys, and surrounding mountain peaks. Also from this point, take the Massai Nature Trail, a .5 mile loop trail into some of the rock formations.
In addition, there are numerous trails that take you into the heart of the rhyolite formations. And when you are tired of the geologic wonders, visit Faraway Ranch Historic District. There you will find a ranch house, corrals, and out-buildings.
Here is an NPS map of the monument that shows all the major attractions.
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