Next we visited the Chiricahua National Monument located in the Northwest corner of the Chiricahua Mountains. The apaches called this the land of the standing up rocks. The valleys surrounding these mountains were a favorite hunting area for these hunter/gathers. This 12 thousand acre monument has 20 miles of hiking trails and roadway for viewing nature’s wonders. The monument also now controls the Faraway Ranch, which was donated to the Park Service when the last of the original settlers passed on. One of the small ironies of this ranch is that the new immigrants from Sweden, who homesteaded this land by simply registering for it, did so just two years after the last of the apaches who had roamed this land for centuries where forced onto reservations.
The natural beauty of this area is stunning and despite the many “rocks” we have looked at over the last months, it is still a very impressive place to visit. It was also easy to see on the drive to the monument why the apaches were so fond of this area. Unlike many parts of Arizona, this area has flowing grass lands and necessary water to support the wildlife that they depended on for their survival.
The 400 year homeland security efforts of the Apache nation finally failed; let us hope that we can do better.