Vast fields of desert grass are suddenly transformed into a landscape of forest, mountains, and striking rock formations as you enter the 12,000-acre Chiricahua National Monument. The Chiricahua Apache—who lived in the mountains for centuries and, led by Cochise and Geronimo, tried for 25 years to prevent white pioneers from settling here—dubbed it the Land of the Standing-Up Rocks. Enormous outcroppings of volcanic rock have been worn by erosion and fractured by uplift into strange pinnacles and spires. Because of the particular balance of sunshine and rain in the area, in April and May visitors will see brown, yellow, and red leaves coexisting with new green foliage. Summer in Chiricahua National Monument is exceptionally wet: from July through September there are thunderstorms nearly every afternoon. Few other areas in the United States have such varied plant, bird, and animal life. Deer, coatimundi, peccaries, and lizards live among the aspen, ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, oak,
and cypress trees—to name just a few.
Chiricahua National Monument is an excellent area for bird-watchers, and hikers have more than 17 miles of scenic trails. The admission fee is good for seven days. Hiking trail maps are available at the visitor center. The most popular and rewarding hike is the moderately easy Echo Canyon Loop Trail. This 3.4-mile path winds through cavelike grottos, brilliant rock formations, and a wooded canyon. Birds and other wildlife are abundant here.