|Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area|
This remote area, jointly owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management, and the Forest Service, protects a wide variety of habitats. The plant diversity ranges from saguaro cactus to ponderosa pine forest and contains some of Arizona's best remaining native fish and ripa...
Chiricahua National Monument
|Description: The Chiricahua Mountain Range is an inactive volcanic range 20 miles wide and 40 miles long. At the northern end of the range is an extraordinary area of striking geological features and enormous biodiversity. Tucked deep into these steep, forested valleys and beneath the craggy peaks are the remains of violent geological activity that continued for many millions of years—the pinnacles, columns, spires, and balanced rocks of Chiricahua National Monument. The Apaches called this place “The Land of Standing-Up Rocks,” a fitting name for an extraordinary rock wonderland. Early pioneers in the late 1800s sensed the unique beauty of the rock formations in the area. Today, the Monument is a mecca for hikers and birders and represents one of the premier areas for biological diversity in the northern hemisphere.
There are approximately 12,000 acres of wild, rugged terrain within which both rock formations and a great ecological diversity are protected. The monument exhibits a unique diversity of plants, including ponderosa pine, Rocky Mountain maple, soap tree yucca, numerous species of oak, Douglas and white fir, cane cholla and prickly pear cactus.
Wildlife to Watch: There are at least 71 species of mammals, 46 species of reptiles, 8 amphibians, 171 species of birds, and uncounted numbers of insects that regularly occur on Chiricahua National Monument. Species like the western box turtle and the cactus wren utilize the grasslands and desert scrub, while the northern goshawk and Mexican spotted owl live in the nearby old-growth pine forest. Black bear and whitetail deer wander throughout the Monument utilizing a variety of habitat types. The rock rattlesnake prefers a more specialized habitat, such as rocky slopes and gravelly drainages. The unique geological formations of the Monument provide the vertical cliffs that turkey vulture, falcons, and white-throated swifts need for nesting, while underground faults allow water to spring up in some areas, creating small wetlands for the tiger salamander.
Mammals such as the black bear, mountain lion, white-tailed and mule deer, ringtail, and bats are common. Several species, such as the coatimundi, Mexican fox squirrel, and northern pygmy mouse have limited range in the United States, but are a fairly common sight here. Some of Arizona’s most recent jaguar sightings have occurred in the mountains nearby.
The Monument’s habitats and southern location bring a variety of Mexican bird species across the border, such as the elegant trogon, whiskered screech-owl, Arizona woodpecker, and the magnificent hummingbird. In fact, 13 species of hummingbirds are known to occur in the Chiricahua Mountains, and many of these can be found on the Monument. Common birds in the area include Mexican jay, black-headed grosbeak, acorn woodpecker, yellow-eyed junco, painted redstart, Grace’s warbler, and spotted towhee.
Special Tips: Fee Site. Dogs are not permitted on trails. Monument offers free hikers’ shuttle that leaves the Visitor Center every day at 8:30 a.m. Monument staff drives you to the upper canyon trailheads so you may hike back down the canyon. Seating is very limited.
Other Activities: Chiricahua features 17 miles of maintained trails of varying degrees of difficulty. The Echo Canyon Trail (3.5 miles) and the Heart of Rocks Trail offer spectacular views of balanced rocks, spires, and pinnacles. A winding 8-mile scenic drive climbs steadily from the entrance, past the visitor center to Massai Point (elevation 6,870 feet) where several trails branch off, descending into canyons and towards the main rock formations, which are not visible from the road. This is a sloping cliff face, weathered into many rocky columns.
Ownership: National Park Service
Size: 12,984 acres
Closest Town: Willcox
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: