Friday, December 11, 2015


We went to the remote Chiricahua National Monument, south of Willcox, AZ, yesterday. Located within the vast Chiricahua National Wilderness, the Monument is yet another of our country’s volcanic wonders. A volcanic blast of incomprehensible magnitude last year created this geologic playground and sculpture garden. Geologists have mapped that the blast that created this area packed considerably more power than the 1980 Mt St Helens eruption that sent a plume of ash 80,000 feet into the atmosphere. Oh Wait, did I say last year? This eruption actually happened quite a long time ago. Sorry.  Forget canned TV sitcoms, this was a big bang! The Monument was a collection area for the ash aftermath. Such that, over the last twelve months or so, it has been compacted into rock and subsequently exposed to incredibly powerful winds, rains, snow and ice to a point where only the strongest survive. Those strongest are glorious columns and outrageous outcroppings of rock. They cluster in neighborhoods, many with “balanced rocks” on top. More balanced rocks than we’ve ever seen in one area. They defy gravity and entertain wonderfully. We took a good hike among them on a 3 mile trail recommended at the visitor center. Here are just a couple of pics, Cathy will post another show from C J Fine Shots, Inc, soon.

Chiricahua National Monument is so named after the Chiricahua Tribe of The Apache. This was the tribe of Cochise. The pronunciation is Chirrah-Cow-Uh. Cochise was the thorn in the side of the white settling of this part of the US. He never lost a battle, was captured twice but escaped quickly both times. As he grew older, always evading our US agencies, things quieted down and the Gov backed off pursuit, letting him pass away a free man and Senior Non-Citizen. His grave is located somewhere in his longtime hideout, now called Cochise Stronghold,  a couple dozen miles from the Monument. The grave has never been located. I have mentioned this in a prior post and it is a fascinating part of this man’s legend. There is no existing photograph of him.
Chirrah-Cow-Uh…makes me wonder, for those of us old enough to remember The Howdy Doody Show…The “indian chief” character on that show would come out to the live audience of kid attendees, (The Peanut Gallery), and say Cowabunga!” and they would answer. Is this where he got his Cow-Uh inspiration from?

After our hike we had hoped to stop at Fort Bowie, a nearby historic site. The fort was built to attempt to protect the oncoming flow of settlers from Cochise and his merry band of “Hey, we were here firsters!” It failed in that but presents a well done first hand experience of the clash of the two cultures that occurred here. The problem was, we never made it. The Monument was so enjoyable we leisured in our experience there. Our entrance to Bowie required a dusty 8 mile dirt road from our west access. The first half was pretty smooth but the last 4 miles were rutted and washboard and took about a half hour, at crawling speed, to navigate. By the time we arrived, we found a parking area and an unexpected mile hike to get to the visitor center. They’d be closed by the time we would make it. A disappointment and an empty handed trek back on that road. Afterward I find out that if we had stayed on the state road back to Willcox, we could have caught US 10 and went east a little to the Bowie exit, where there is a 13 mile paved road to the visitor center from that eastern side. Ah…another Vilia Adventure.


  1. Ah Chief Thunder Thud, remember him well. Thanks for this interesting narrative, Safe travels,

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