Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Land of Standing Up Rocks

Willcox, AZ   High 84  Low 48

 P1020914The Chiricahua National Monument preserves the remains of an immense volcanic eruption from the Turkey Creek Caldera about 10 miles away that shook the region some 27 million years ago.

The Apaches called it "The Land of Standing-Up Rocks" and Anglos later dubbed it the "Wonderland of Rocks."



The 2011 wildfire season was an unusually difficult one in Arizona, and on June 8 the Horseshoe Two Fire, which had already been burning for a month, moved into the monument. By the time the blaze was contained on June 25, it had burned 223,000 acres within the Chiricahua Mountains, and most of the monument's nearly 12,000 acres had been affected to at least some extent.


It will take years for the vegetation to return but Mother Nature is amazing in her ability to rebound from a disaster. And the rock formations were not affected by the fire.



I love this area. Even though we are not hikers there are several trails that even we could handle. It’s so quiet and peaceful.



Well, except for the Mexican Jays which told us quite loudly that they wanted to share our lunch with us.



Took this picture just to give you some idea of the size of the rocks.


We were really happy because there weren’t a lot of people at the monument this day so we were able to enjoy it completely.


The following is one of the highlights of the visit for me.


These cute fellows (or gals since I didn’t get close enough to find out for sure) are coatimundi or coati. They are a mammal related to the raccoon.

One of them happened to be on the road as we drove by and Jim stopped the truck a little further up the road so he could walk back and try to get a better picture. He saw about three of them cross the road.


Then he heard a bunch of noise along side the road and called to Dianna and I to come look. There must have been at least 15 of these coatimundi’s moving down the culvert. They certainly weren’t afraid of us and passed right by us.

Coatimundi females and young males up to 2 years of age are gregarious and travel through their territories in noisy, loosely-organized bands made up of 4 to 25 individuals, foraging with their offspring. Males over 2 years become solitary due to behavioral disposition and collective aggression from the females, and will join the female groups only during the breeding season.


What a fantastic end to a wonderful visit.


  1. Oh my gosh, I have never seen a coatimundi. How cool.

    We enjoyed that park also. We did hike a few trails. They were not difficult.

  2. That is a beautiful place, hope to get back someday:)

  3. That looks great. Hope we can make it one of our destinations in the future.
    Have seen coatimundi as road kills, never alive.
    So cute.

  4. Oh my, sorry to hear about the fires there. We enjoyed our visit there a couple of years before the fire.

  5. What a great encounter! Love that you captured 'the end'. ;)

  6. This might be the animal I saw on the side of the road in Georgia. I will investigate.

    Didn't know about the fire. :(

  7. Great scenery and I loved the coatimundi you saw. I've never seen those. I'm with Judy on "the end" photo. lol

  8. Well, as good as the coatimundi photo is, my favorite is of the Mexican Jay. Great shot!

  9. Sounds like a great day, glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Looks like a great place to go hiking.

  11. Looks like you've really been enjoying yourself now that you've gotten away from AJ for a while.

  12. I didn't even known there was such a thing as a coatimundi much less ever see one! what fun! the rocks did fascinate me. I like rock more than sand. they are ancient and have seen a lot of stuff... kinda like trees. forever.

  13. Those are certainly furry little guys... Great pictures!

  14. LOVE those rocks. I'm glad you said some of the trails were good for non-hikers (that would be us!). Those coati are fascinating creatures. Perfect "the end" shot.

  15. How cool to see those coati! And I think I saw those same jays!

  16. Great pics of the Mexican Jay and that other little critter!

    We visited that same monument a few years ago and found it amazing - thanks for the tour.

  17. WOW....the rock formations are awesome. Glad the park was not busy...makes for a much better day. I have never seen a coatimundi...thanks for sharing! You got a beautiful shot of the Mexican Jay in the pine tree and in flight.

    Have a great Sunday!

  18. Time for us to get back to the Chiricahuas, but no time right now. Maybe after we get back home in October. Thanks for the coati pictures. We have never seen one. well, we HAVE seen pictures. I mean we've never seen a coati, except in a zoo. And that's not as much fun.

  19. Good thing those rocks were not damaged by the fire. It would take a long time to grow new ones... ;c)

  20. I'm always fascinated by the rocks in the west, especially the balancing ones that seem to defy gravity. I've never seen a coatimundi before. In fact before I read I was thinking, "What a strange looking raccoon!" Thanks for sharing, Sandie.

  21. When we leave here the end of the month, I think that's were we're going. Sorry to hear about the fire damage.

  22. Great tour, have to visit sometime. Great photos of the Jay and coati.

  23. Look at the fifth picture down from the top. I 'see' the small formation in the middle as a woman's face and then the top part as something very large on her head. Do you see that ?


Thanks for visiting today. I look forward to reading your comments. Have a beautiful day.