Road Trip XI, Days 6-10: The Chiricahuas. (Then NM, TX, OK, Yadda Yadda Yadda…)

Because let’s get something clear: the Chiricahuas are the star of the show in my book, as this latest visit just confirmed. I don’t know why I keep telling people about them because honestly, the #1 thing The Mate and I love about them is how few people we meet there. (Things #2-7 are to follow. At least they are a bit of a haul to get to.

Not a doctored photo

We started on the west side, a.k.a. the National Monument side, or the better-known side, thrilled to have scored one night in small, pretty Bonita Canyon campground. What better place to debut our giant new tent shelter?

You’re not supposed to cook in there, but it sure was tempting.

Bonita Canyon offers a jaw-droppingly beautiful drive several miles up to the top of the mountain, where most folks go to hike around the rocky hoodoos. I decided to trade a hike for a ride, knowing I probably wouldn’t have the knees for both.

Liza’s first mountain ride!

Up top:

Hoodoo ya love?
I’m not sure it’s entirely respectful that this rocky outcropping is known as Cochise Head.

Our last time through here, three years ago, I wrote a song about it, and those lyrics were echoing in my head as we prepared to bed down at our campsite:

A lone coyote wails for some connection with her band,

Unless that’s the spirit of Cochise still mourning for his land.

To say that we belong here is historically untrue,

So what about this feeling that we absolutely do?”

Next morning we had the privilege of saying goodbye to our happy place…

…with the memory of last night’s sunset still fresh…

and then, a couple hours later, saying hello again.

The two sides of the Chiricahua Mountains are connected by a road, but it’s not one you’d want to try without a jeep. And not in February. We were happy to make the drive, for this:

The tiny town of Portal, AZ (the east side of the mountains is national forest, not monument) is a Mecca for birders. “Bird” is still a noun for me, not a verb, but I do enjoy seeing them, if not actually watching them.

We had two precious days in a cabin with good friends, enough to learn the commuting habits of the local wildlife, like the turkeys who strutted past one way in the morning, and back the other at evening time. Going out at dawn, after a glorious sunrise…

That’s our cabin, creekside.

…I discovered their roosting tree:

If I were that delicious, I’d roost too.

Later (not pictured) I found them resting in the shade with a pair of deer, like ol’ roomies.

My Chiricahua faves, though, are always the javelinas—collared peccaries—so I was happiest when they strolled uponto our deck, checking out our empty cooler.

“Have you seen the little piggies…?”
Bonus baby piggie!!!

Another of my Chiricahua Faves is the presence of sycamores, thanks to the elevation which provides snow, thus water. I got to visit with some on our morning hike.

Horizontal but still growing strong—I know the feeling.

But in the afternoon, I scratched my real itch: to get up close, nose to nose, with some of those salmon-colored crags. So I crossed the little swinging bridge behind our cabin…

The mountains are calling!

…and started climbing. Keep in mind, the day was overcast, so these rock colors are actually muted here.


The upper part of the trail was so iffy—narrow, sloped, and loose—that I had to make rules for myself: walk. Then stop and gaze. Then walk again.

Close enough to to hug!
The view east, looking into New Mexico

Tuesday we left the Chiricahuas for good, promising to be back next road trip if at all possible, and knowing that further scenery was going to have a hard time reaching its standards. But halfway up New Mexico, heading north, our recreation stop at White Sands National Monument, the scenery did its best.

White. Sands.
Also blessedly not windy that day.
So hard to remember it’s not snow!

After three fairly rustic days, we were ready for some good WiFi and—because New Mexico!—some good green chiles. (Not pictured: green chiles, blue corn, posole—thanks, NM.) Santa Rosa gave us both, and a decent sunset as well.


Next morning: out of New Mexico, across the Texas Panhandle (meeting our goal to spend no $ in Texas) and across half of Oklahoma…which is way bigger than it looks on the map! We did score one nice walk in Red Rock State Park…

Thanks for the tip, Desert Girl!
I guess this will have to do till we head west again.

Internet has been a problem today as we cross into Arkansas, so I’m going to cross my fingers and hit Publish now…

The Traveling Kumquats say, “Thanks for riding with us! See you next post!”

8 thoughts on “Road Trip XI, Days 6-10: The Chiricahuas. (Then NM, TX, OK, Yadda Yadda Yadda…)

  1. Love that place

    Coyotes aren’t like wolves. Generally solitary and not in bands

    See you soon

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Oh, the Chiricahuas! How cool that you did both sides. There’s so much to love there. We’ve yet to experience White Sands, because the times we’ve been close were windy. Not a good place to be in high winds. I understand what you mean about ‘bird’ being a noun and not a verb, haha. But it is a seductive hobby, and so fun that it can take place while hiking, biking, kayaking…or just looking out the dining room window! Keep on enjoying!

  3. I love the Chiricahuas. I’m not sure I’ve ever gone to the east side. But I just entered Arizona (2nd time this trip) and am on way to Tucson. Will try to fit them in! Right now I’m in Golden Valley outside Kingman.

  4. Wow! Thanks for taking us along (virtually) on your travels! I never cease to be amazed at the varied landscapes of this country. You describe and photograph them beautifully.

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