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Can’t talk about Chiricahua National Monument without Lillian

By June 14, 2019 No Comments
Chiricahua NM POTD 1
Chiricahua National Monument 1

Chiricahua National Monument is a unit within the National Parks System located 36 miles southeast of Willcox, AZ. The highlight within Chiricahua National Monument is the hundreds of column rock structures. They are what remains of an immense volcanic eruption 27 million years ago. The thick, white-hot ash spewed forth from the nearby Turkey Creek Caldera, cooled and hardened into rhyolitic tuff, laying down almost 2,000 ft of dark volcanic ash and pumice. The volcanic material eventually eroded into the natural rock formations of the present monument.

Chiricahua NM POTD 2

As amazing as the rock formations are, Chiricahua National Monument would not be around if it was not for Lillian Riggs and her husband Ed. You see her parents were immigrants from Sweden and they settled in the area in 1886 and quickly absorbed the other homesteads into a massive ranch. He became one of the first Forest Rangers at the turn of the century and in 1917 turned Faraway Ranch over to Lillian who successfully ran the ranch until her death in 1977. From the beginning she started renting guest houses and running guided horseback trips into the canyon. He husband promoted the “Wonderland of Rocks” as a tourist attraction so well the area was designated a National Monument in 1924 and Ed Riggs was hired to mange the new park.

Chiricahua National Monument 3
Faraway Ranch main house

With all this said this is a great, unknown park that provides interesting hikes and spectacular vistas. To say it is well worth the effort to visit is putting it mildly.

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