Thursday, April 01, 2010

Chiricahua National Monument

If you should happen to be driving along Interstate 10 in southeast Arizona, you need to turn south onto highway 186 in Wilcox. Your destination is a little over 30 miles through the desert, uphill. It is the same terrain you have been driving through from Texas and New Mexico and you're wondering why or how this will be any different. But when you reach the little road that takes you into a canyon, you enter a different world. A delightful, surprising one.

There was green grass. And trees. Not just the little scrub bushes but real trees. And it was cool. And there was a stream with flowing water. Of course, it was early spring. There had been a lot of snow during the winter and it was melting. The first time in many years that there had actually been water flowing in Bonita Creek, according to one of the Park Rangers.

This fascinating place is Chiricahua National Monument. I had never heard of it until I saw a sign on the Interstate. I'm so glad that I took that road. The campground was pleasant with some sun making its way through the trees. It was refreshing to return to after several hours of hiking the trails, which were created by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

My Campsite.

The Erickson/Riggs home at Faraway Ranch, Bonita Canyon.

In 1887, this remote canyon became the home of Neil and Emma Erickson. Swedish emigrants, they met at Fort Craig, New Mexico. He was a sergeant in the Army and she was a a maid and companion to the Colonel's wife. Neil was often away from home, working, and Emma tended to the children and the ranch. In 1903 he became a forest ranger, which took him further away from Bonita Canyon. In 1917, the eldest daughter, Lillian, began inviting guests to the ranch and it became the getaway destination. Her husband, Ed Riggs, became foreman of a CCC Camp and helped build the trails used by visitors today. They did an amazing job on the trails. Faraway Ranch is now a part of Chiricahua National Monument.

Beyond Bonita Canyon are the mountains. The trails wind through the incredible rock formations – pillars and balancing rocks galore! It is a wondrous place, indeed.


Miriam said...

An amazing coincidence: last night my husband and I watched the Jimmy Stewart movie, "Broken Arrow," which told about the Chiricahua branch of the Apaches...and their chief, Cochise. I believe it was filmed in this historic location...absolutely beautiful!

I'm sure enjoying your "travelogue," Becky!

Elizabeth Thomas said...

What a wonderful sight!! Thanks for sharing.