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Title: Chiricahua National Monument (1958)
Author: United States. National Park Service
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    [Illustration: Cover: _Columnar rhyolite in the Balanced Rock

                           NATIONAL MONUMENT

 Weirdly beautiful pinnacles and columns eroded in volcanic rocks high
  in a forested range, which forms a mountain island in a desert sea.

The National Park System, of which this area is a unit, is dedicated to
conserving the scenic, scientific, and historic heritage of the United
States for the benefit and enjoyment of its people.

Unbelievably tall and slender pinnacles, startling likenesses of giant
beasts and men, grotesque and weird figures such as might inhabit
another world—all these and many more, carved by Nature in volcanic
rock, are crowded into 17 spectacular square miles of ridge and canyon
on the west flank of the Chiricahua Mountains.

Rising steeply from the grasslands of southeastern Arizona and
southwestern New Mexico, the Chiricahuas present a verdant, forested
island in a brown sea of desert. Many varieties of trees, shrubs, and
flowering herbs clothe steep canyon walls. Shady glens, alive with
birds, are frowned upon by rows of strange massive spires, turrets, and
battlements in this fascinating wonderland of rocks.

Geological Story

What geological forces created these striking and peculiar pinnacles and
balanced rocks? Geologists explain that millions of years ago volcanic
activity was extensive throughout this region. A series of explosive
eruptions covered the level area with layers of volcanic rock fragments.
Many years elapsed between such periods of activity, resulting in a
series of blankets, layer upon layer. Since the eruptions varied in
magnitude, the resulting deposits were of different thickness.

Finally, the eruptions ceased, and were followed by movements in the
earth’s crust which slowly lifted and tilted great rock masses to form
mountains. The stresses responsible for the movements caused a definite
pattern of vertical cracks. Storms and other agencies of erosion,
especially running water carrying small particles of rock, immediately
set to work on the long, slow task of wearing down these mountains.
Shallow canyons became deeper and more rugged as time passed. Weathered
rock formed soil which collected in pockets, and plant life gained a

Where previous volcanic activity had spread sheets of lava, the
mountains were now capped with layers of volcanic rock. Along the
vertical cracks and lines of horizontal weakness, erosion began its
persistent work. Cracks were widened to form fissures; fissures grew to
breaches. Undercutting slowly took place. Gradually the lava masses were
cut by millions of erosional channels into blocks of a multitude of
sizes and shapes to be further sculptured by the elements.

Erosion is still going on slowly and persistently among the great
pillared cliffs of the monument. Some of the most exposed portions have
already been worn away. Pedestal or balanced rocks have formed and
fallen; others are tottering; more are just taking shape. Within the
span of a human life, only minor changes may be noticed, but with the
passage of the centuries the face of Nature is ever changing.

Although the spectacular erosional remnants and the massive columnar
structure of the cliffs will impress you even if you hurry through, you
will see much more of geological interest if you can stop and use the
trail. Here and there are exposed beds of volcanic ash and cinders,
indicating the explosive nature of some of the ancient eruptions. Road
construction has uncovered shale which was once the mud of a lake bed.
One trail is strewn with “volcanic hailstones” weathered out of a ledge
composed of millions of marblelike pellets firmly cemented together into
a peculiar “peanut-brittle” rock.

Plant and Animal Life

Because of its location as a mountainous island in a sea of arid
grassland, the Chiricahua Range affords a haven for a multitude of
plants and animals of many varieties. Winter snows and summer rains
result in springs and small streams. Dense vegetation covers the shaded
canyon bottoms and the cool north slopes of the higher elevations. In
contrast, south exposures feel the full heat of the summer sun and have
plants characteristic of the desert. Red-stemmed manzanitas and
bark-shedding madrones rub branches with the chalky-white limbs of the
sycamore and the feathery gray foliage of the Arizona cypress. Green
slopes, covered by chaparral of scrub oak and manzanita, face open
hillsides dotted with a desert vegetation of yuccas, century plants, and
cactuses. Seasonal changes bring with them many varieties of

Arizona whitetail deer are numerous in the Chiricahuas, and in the
monument, where they are protected, they become accustomed to man and
are frequently seen. Coatimundi and peccary are increasing in numbers.
Rodents are common, as are birds of many species. Each vegetative belt
and plant association has its own distinctive animal population, some of
which are unique because of the relative and long-established isolation
of the Chiricahua Range.

Historical Background

What student of American history has not heard of Geronimo, famous
warrior of the Chiricahua Apache Indians? When, in 1886, Geronimo and
his band finally surrendered to United States soldiers, there ended one
of the most stubborn phases of aboriginal resistance to white
domination. The Chiricahua Mountains and their neighboring ranges were
the ancestral home of the nomadic Apache Indians. Living mainly on wild
animals and native plants, these resourceful people moved from place to
place depending upon the requirements of the season and the supply of
food. Occasionally they raided the farmer Indians of the desert valleys,
and with the coming of the Spaniards, they found increased incentive to
pillage the European cattle, horses, and grains introduced by the white

Stolen horses greatly increased the power and widened the range of
Indian activities, and the southeastern corner of what is now Arizona
became an Apache stronghold. With the Gadsden Purchase in 1853 and the
opening of settlement of the region to United States citizens, the
Apache raiders became more and more a hazard. United States troops were
dispatched to the Southwest to protect settlers, prospectors, travelers,
and the mail- and passenger-carrying stages of the Butterfield Route
which were often attacked. Cavalry camps and bases were established. One
of the most famous of these, Fort Bowie, established in 1862, commanded
strategic Apache Pass at the end of the Chiricahua Mountains, north of
the monument. From 1860 until 1872, the Chiricahua Apaches under the
leadership of the wily Cochise matched the strategy of the soldiers.

In 1876, the Chiricahua Apaches were finally rounded up and placed on a
reservation, but hostilities continued to flare up when bands left the
reservation to attack travelers and pillage isolated ranches. Geronimo,
who was the most persistent and cunning of the leaders, was captured in
1886. This ended the organized resistance of the Chiricahua Apaches, but
“Big Foot” Massai staged several one-man escapades in later years.
Cochise Head, just north of the monument, and Massai Point and Massai
Canyon, within its boundaries, immortalize the names of two of the
famous Apaches of the Chiricahua group.

The Monument

Chiricahua National Monument, established by Presidential proclamation
on April 18, 1924, has an area of nearly 17 square miles. Elevations
within the monument range from 5,160 to 7,365 feet above sea level. The
monument entrance, which is on the west, is reached by roads from Bowie
and Willcox, or by paved roads from Douglas and Bisbee.

    [Illustration: Geronimo, famous warrior of the Chiricahua Apaches.]

About Your Visit

You may obtain information and can register at monument headquarters,
about 1 mile beyond the entrance. There is a small exhibit room here,
and free interpretive service is provided. When personnel is available,
visitors are accompanied to points of interest by park rangers who
explain the geologic phenomena.

A paved mountain road will take you up scenic Bonita Canyon to Massai
Point from which you can get an extensive view of the monument and of
the Sulfur Springs Valley to the west and San Simon Valley on the east.
The geological story is told at the Massai Point Exhibit Building. For
added enjoyment, we suggest you take one or more of the following trips:

_Massai Point Trail._—A self-guiding trail. Interesting features include
a balanced rock, lookout point with telescope, and Transition Life Zone
plants. Secure leaflet at the Exhibit Building. Time, 20 to 30 minutes.

_Echo Canyon._—One of the most scenic sections of the monument. The walk
of 1¼ miles to Echo Park is very spectacular.

_Heart of Rocks._—A nice 4- or 5-hour hike to interesting rock
formations, such as Punch and Judy and Big Balanced Rock. Take water.

_Sugarloaf Peak._—One of the highest points in the monument with an
extensive view of entire region. One mile from Sugarloaf parking area by

_Foothill Forest Trail._—A self-guiding trail, starting at the museum
parking area, will take you past plants of the Upper and Lower Sonoran
Life Zones. Time, 15 to 20 minutes.

_Horseback Trip._—Horses are available at the Faraway Ranch and all
trails are open to horseback parties.

There is a campground in Bonita Canyon, one-half mile above monument
headquarters, at 5,340 feet elevation. Drinking water, fireplaces, wood,
and picnic tables at 30 campsites; restrooms, showers, and laundry room
are centrally located. Campers may heat water for showers or laundry in
a wood-burning waterheater. Although the campground is open all year,
shower rooms may be closed during freezing weather.

    [Illustration: “Punch and Judy.”]

Temperatures are generally moderate—the mean daily temperature in
January is 40° and in July, 74°. Most of the average yearly
precipitation of 18 inches occurs during the rainy season of July and
August. Except for light snowfall in winter, the rest of the year is
comparatively dry.

Camping and picnicking are restricted to the campground area. As wood is
provided here, the gathering of firewood is prohibited.

Housetrailers can be accommodated, but no special facilities, such as
electricity, are available. There is a 30-day limit on camping, which
may be reduced during periods of heavy use. All pets must be leashed or
kept in a vehicle.

Meals and lodging can be obtained at Silver Spur Ranch and housekeeping
cabins and meals at the Faraway Ranch, both of which are on private

    [Illustration: “Duck on a Rock.”]

_Hunting, or injury to any plant, animal, or feature of the monument, is

Mission 66

Mission 66 is a program designed to be completed by 1966 which will
assure the maximum protection of the scenic, scientific, wilderness, and
historic resources of the National Park System in such ways and by such
means as will make them available for the use and enjoyment of present
and future generations.


Chiricahua National Monument is administered by the National Park
Service, U. S. Department of the Interior. A superintendent, whose
address is Dos Cabezas, Ariz., is in immediate charge.

    [Illustration: U. S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR · March 3, 1849

                      Fred A. Seaton, _Secretary_
                         NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
                      Conrad L. Wirth, _Director_

    CHIR 7005-A]

                            TRAIL DISTANCES

          MASSAI POINT TO HEART-OF-ROCKS                 4
          MASSAI POINT TO HEADQUARTERS VIA               7½
          ECHO PARKING AREA TO ECHO PARK                 1¼
          ECHO PARKING AREA TO HEADQUARTERS              4½

            U. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1958—O-476327
                              Revised 1958

                          Transcriber’s Notes

—Silently corrected a few typos.

—Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook
  is public-domain in the country of publication.

—In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by

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