There are a lot of things to do in Willcox including visiting several wine tasting rooms, (which we didn't do this time)visiting the Rex Allen museum, and checking out Eurofresh Tomatoes, which no longer gives tours. (Eurofresh tomatoes grow in green houses in Willcox and are found in all major food stores. They are the ones you see sold on the vine this time of year in most of the stores. ) I wanted to go to the Chiricahua National Monument about 40 miles away, so none of the above really interested me. Actually, I've been wanting to go to Chiricahua for several years and the timing was never right. This time, the timing seemed good, so, finally, off I went.
Chiricahua mountain range experienced a huge wildfire last summer. The fire started in early May in the Coronado National Forest and migrated to the Chiricahua in June. The fire was devastating, burning more than 220,000 acres. My son, Conlan, was part of the fire fighting team in June working out of Rodeo directing helicopters as they filled up the water buckets.
Saturday morning was clear and warm with some wind. We headed over to the Chiricahua visitor center to get advice on what trails to hike, and which trail would offer the best views with the least elevation gain. The ranger recommended the Echo Canyon Trail, about a 3.3 mile loop with only 500 elevation gain and descent.
The place is fascinating and I'll let the pictures speak for themselves! The major fire from last summer was evident, but it didn't spoil the beauty of this area.
The trails were immaculately maintained, the views spectacular. I've been to Bryce and Cedar Breaks and have seen many similar red rock formations, but these in Chiricahua were really spectacular. There is a lot more to see in the area and I hope I can return sometime and hike the heart of the rocks loop trail.
We returned to the Elks Lodge in Willcox and indulged in a tradition St. Patricks day meal of corned beef and cabbage. Too bad they didn't have any green beer. As the day continued, so did the wind...as predicted.