The Land of Standing Up Rocks. Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona

Posted on January 17, 2015


DSCN1848Part of Arizona’s appeal – apart from its arthritis- friendly climate- is its visual diversity.

Vast expanses of desert, soaring mountains, majestic stands of pine and fir woodlands surround planned communities with big- city vibes, and dusty used-to-be cow towns where the mind’s eye sees John Wayne around every corner.

There’s an astounding variety of vegetation here, including the most recognizable symbol of Arizona, the Saguaro Cactus that exits nowhere else.

Native American, Spanish and European immigrant influences color this vibrant and ever-changing landscape, just as varied minerals color the rocky peaks that are never far from view.

Yes, the Grand Canyon is grand, but give us the Chiricahua Mountains – the Land of Standing Up Rocks.

FullSizeRender (25)The Chiricahua is an isolated mountain range – a sky island – rising above a surrounding grassland sea dotted with cattle and cactus. As you climb, the terrain shifts into cyprus, pine and fir woodlands. But it’s the rock formations that make the Chiricahua special.

Their origin dates back 27 million years, a product of volcanic action, shifting and uplifting of the earth’s surface, and the sculpting action of eons of wind and rain, freezing and thawing.

FullSizeRender (35)The resulting formations are breath-taking. Rising to 9,763 feet, this sky island was once home to the Chiricahua Indians who lived in and around the mountains since the 1400’s and gave the area the name, Land of Standing Up Rocks.

The Chiricahua Apaches fought relentlessly against European encroachment, starting off with the Spanish in the 1500’s. After Mexican independence in 1821, the flood of immigrants continued – soldiers, miners and settlers. Led by Cochise and Geronimo, the Chiricahuas continued to fight for their land, but were, of course, never able to stem the tide of Western expansion.

Geronimo, 1907

Geronimo, 1907

No known photographs of Cochise exist. All images are from descriptions provided by his sons.

No known photographs of Cochise exist. All images are from descriptions provided by his sons.

The Chiricahuas surrendered in 1886, and were taken away from the Land of Standing Up Rocks to reservations in Oklahoma and New Mexico.

The Chiricahua National Monument was established in 1924 to preserve and protect this beautiful place.

In 1934 the Civilian Conservation Corp, part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, established a camp at the base of the mountains. The CCC built roads, improved existing trails, made campgrounds and constructed the interpretative center and other buildings that serve the public today.FullSizeRender (34)FullSizeRender (23)FullSizeRender (26) FullSizeRender (27)FullSizeRender (20) FullSizeRender (21) FullSizeRender (22) FullSizeRender (24)

Posted in: Travel - Arizona