Arizona is amazing.
I have passed by this area a dozen times and never made it to the area.
A friend called to invite me to go explore the area.
Two FZJ80s & my FJ Cruiser headed out of town an hour later then planned but we were in no hurry.
We took the fast route to get there, I-10 to Wilcock AZ, topped off our tanks and spare fuel cans.
Me and one of the 80s were still running stock size tanks but the other 80 has about a 50 gallon capacity of fuel.
We picked up SR186 towards Chiricahua and turned left on 181 into the park.
First stop in the park is Erickson Family Cemetery on the right, early pioneers of the area.
After a quick stop there we continued to the ranger station to pay the entry fee, $5.00 per person good for 7 days.
It started to rain a little as we headed into the Coronado Forest.
Driving up i noticed some wet creek beds to the right like it had been raing earlier.
We stopped to have a look at a head stone on the side of the road and as we walked towards it we could hear a roar coming from the area . It was a flash flood ripping down the creak bed and over flowing its banks, it was at least 50-75 yds across.
Unbelievable! The fast flow of the creek, rocks & limbs were tearing through the small creek bed.
We got back in the cruisers after watching the flood for awhile and came across the road being washed out, we waited about 20 min for the water to slow down since we didn't know what was under the flow of the water.
After getting everyone across safely we continued in to the forest on FR42, the plan was to find a dispersed camp site at a higher elevation. we were able to find a spot with great views at 8030ft in the trees.
The next morning after a nice rain storm I headed out to explore the area. Because the wilderness area divides the area you can only travel so far south off of FR42 before running into the boundary. You need to take FR42 east or west to get to the north or south end of the park
I needed to go to the south end to find Johnny Ringo's burial site, the same Johnny Ringo from the OK Corral.
His burial site is on private property and there is a gate to open and close behind you. N31 51.955 W109 25.133 in the Turkey Creek area.
After exploring the area we headed back into the Chiricahua National Monument where we saw three bears, one that might have been the mom to two smaller cubs we saw farther down the road.
We continued farther up the road to a parking area with hiking trails to interesting areas & did a little hiking to the Echo Canyon Grottoes. N32 00.856 W109 18.975
After the hike we headed back to camp,dinner, sat around the campfire and solved a few world problems over cigars.
Another night of rain that we all stayed dry in our RTT tents.
After a great breakfast we took off to explore the eastern side of the park and to look for a water fall that is pictured on the map we bought, Winn Fall but never made it to the fall after hiking awhile.
Never had canned bacon before but it was very good.
The east side of the Coronado forest was more like high desert, the trees were shorter, the ground was drier, but there was still sign of water flowing through the area.
We followed the road into Paradise then back around to the eastern entrance of the park.
Clouds were building up again so we headed back to camp.
Another night of rain, at times it was a heavy down pour.
I was down 3/4 tank of fuel with 10 gallons on the rear bumper still so I had to make a decision to go get fuel because our return trip would take us across the desert towards the Geronimo Trail.
Wilcocks was the closest fuel so we headed out on FR42 to retrace our steps to get fuel.
On the way we got side tracked and headed to Old Ft Bowie, we found it was a 1.5 miles trek across the desert to get there and I didn't bring shoes, anything to carry water in so after a 8 miles desert drive to get there we bailed for next time.
After getting fuel for the FJ & Starbucks for us we headed back into the Chiricahua National Monument to have a look at the pinnacle rock formations on the drive through the park.
Back to camp afterwards and a relaxing cool evening.
In the morning we headed out of the mountains heading east to 80 and south towards Douglas AZ. Another heavy down pour during the drive, the desert on both sides of the road looked like a lake.
The "short cut" we planned to take across the desert had a locked gate so we headed to Douglas and turned left on 10th Ave which turns into the Geronimo trail.
Along the route there are markers for the Mormon Battalion (N31 30.624 W109 02.253) that passed through the area in 1864. In some areas of the trail you are as close as 30ft from the Mexican border and there are signs posted along the way warning you about illegal activities in the area.
The route runs through desert then you enter the Coronado National Forest again, I'm surprised how green and how many trees are this far south.
After leaving the trail you are on NM338 heading towards Animas NM on NM 9 In the area is the Clanton Hideout N31 57.143 W108 48.463 Also from the OK Corral fame.
We stayed on NM 9 towards Columbus NM, the town Poncho Villa invaded.
from there it was an hour back home.
I plan to explore the Chiricahua National Monument / Coronado Nat Forest Arizona some more. I really would like to see it in the winter.
More pictures here> http://sdrv.ms/MCTaNn