Chiricahua National Monument is an Arizona Secret

Rene Cizio

About two hours east of Tucson, you’ll find one of Arizona’s best-kept secrets: Chiricahua National Monument. It’s like a small Bryce Canyon National Park, but in muted tones of grey and beige like tombstones, some speckled with green instead of variegated shades of red and orange you’ll find at Bryce. This place, though, has one big bonus: nobody goes there.

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Rene Cizio

The drive from Tucson to Chiricahua includes long stretches of open land, golden and minimally trafficked. Parts reminded me of the golden fields of Montana as they led into the

Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona. You’ll pass small towns, mostly empty, and minor roadside attractions, but not much else. This place is open and untouched.

The land around the park is open and vast, but the monument itself is only five by six miles wide. A winding, 8-mile scenic drive leads you from beginning to end. It climbs steadily from the beginning to the end at Massai Point, just under 7,000 feet, where it dead ends, and you must turn around.

The park preserves tall rock structures formed from volcanic rock that eroded into pinnacles and spires, called hoodoos. The structures are rare enough to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The area is relatively small, with only two main hiking sections with about 15 trails. Many of the trails intersect and make it easy to get confused. So be careful.

While I was there, I hiked a few of the loop trails and found many different interesting structures that you’ll only see if you get out and walk around a bit. It's a secret worth keeping, but also exploring.

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Digital nomad, solo traveling full time. I write about travel, adventure, universal energy, and the journey through life. Pictures on Instagram @renecizio

Chicago, IL
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