We recently visited Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona. It was on a whim. We needed a place to stay as we made our way east through the southwest and our National Geographic Adventure Atlas showed a green blob on the map. So, we went! And we were not disappointed. It was awesome! If you find yourself traveling through the southwest, we highly recommend stopping at Chiricahua National Monument!
General Info for Chiricahua National Monument
This park is located 35 miles southeast of the small town of Wilcox. It’s a little under two hours from Tucson and close to the New Mexico border. If you have four wheel drive and a vehicle with high clearance you may be able to take one of the unpaved roads out of the park when you leave to see something new. Otherwise, you’ll have to backtrack like we did and go out the way you came. The drive out there is remote so be prepared to lose a cell phone signal.
There is one visitor center in the park. It’s located along Bonita Canyon Drive. It’s open 8:30am to 4:30pm.
There are bears and mountain lions in this park so store your food safely! There are food storage lockers located in the campground for those of you who are sleeping in tents. For more info on bear safety, head here.
Pets are not allowed on the trails. They must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet long.
Drones are not allowed.
You may not camp anywhere other than the Bonita Canyon Campground.
Rock climbing and bouldering is prohibited.
Bicycles are not allowed on any of the trails but you may ride them on the roads. Just beware of the limited shoulder.
Chiricahua National Monument Phone Number
Best Things to Do in Chiricahua National Monument
Take a tour of the Faraway Ranch House
Step back in time by taking a tour that Swedish immigrants built. During the winter, when we visited, tours are only available on Saturdays and Sundays. They become more regular during the spring.
Go for a hike!
There are a number of trails to explore in Chiricahua National Monument. In fact, if you stay at the campground and hike along the Silver Spur Meadow Trail, you will actually end up passing the old Stafford Cabin as well as Faraway Ranch, mentioned above. The trail is nice and flat and crosses the creek a few times.
The Sugarloaf trail is another popular trail. It’s about .9 miles to the summit (1.8 miles roundtrip) and will give you a great view of the beautiful ‘rock wonderland’ below you. The summit of Sugarloaf sits at about 7,310 feet and is one of the highest points around.
For a more complete list of hikes at Chiricahua National Monument go here.
See a sunrise or sunset at Massai Point
If you are looking for a great sunrise or sunset, this is the place for both. If you arrive early enough (or want to stick around after the sun comes up), there are also some great trails up there! The short nature trail has some interpretive signs to help you learn a little bit more about the area and there are others which will take you down into a canyon or to a grotto.
Drive along the scenic Bonita Canyon Drive
This road is about 8 miles long and will take you through some beautiful scenery. Be sure to stop at all of the various pullouts. Some of our favorites include Organ Pipe Formation and Sea Captain.
Best Places to Stay in Chiricahua National Monument
There’s only one campground located in this park. The good thing is, it’s a great one.
Bonita Creek Campground
The campground has 26 sites and is open year-round.
RV’s are welcome but they must be 29 feet in length or shorter.
Checkout is 11am. The maximum number of days you can stay? 14.
There aren’t any utility hookups. Generators must be turned off at 8pm.
There is one group campsite! It can hold up to 8 tents and 24 people.
We didn’t have a reservation and actually showed up after the visitor center was closed, but we were able to find the camp host (her site was located near the Silver Spur Meadow Trailhead) and, with her help, figure out which sites were open. As luck would have it, there were two available sites!
To register late, we just then headed back to the self-registration board, paid the fee ($20 cash) and then slipped the money into the slot and brought our paper back to our site and hung it on the post.
If you can, we’d recommend securing a site online ahead of time. It’ll save you the hassle of driving back out if there aren’t any sites available. To make a reservation, go to www.recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777.
Top Tips For Visiting Chiricahua National Monument
Carry a detailed, topographic with you as well as a compass if you are going hiking or camping in the backcountry.
In addition to carrying the proper navigational tools, also be sure to bring enough water with you.
If you plan on camping, be sure to get a campsite ahead of time since there’s only one campground.
There are rattlesnakes in this park so watch where you put your hands and feet.
Beware of falling trees and rocks and flash floods. Things can and do happen quickly out here.
Cell Phone Service and Wifi in Chiricahua National Monument
Don’t expect a good cell phone signal in this park. We lost a signal on the way in, several miles before the entrance. There is no wifi at the visitor center or the campground.
We were unable to get a signal at Bonita Canyon Campground.
We were able to get a weak LTE signal at Massai Point.
Chiricahua National Monument Recap
If you’re planning on visiting Chiricahua National Monument feel free to pin or share this post for reference. There are so many unique things to do in this national park! We also love it because there weren’t that many people in the park. It’s rare to be able to go somewhere and feel like you have it all to yourself.
Have you been to this part of Arizona? If so, what’s your favorite things to see, do and eat? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below! We think it’s definitely one of the best parks in Arizona.
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