Sam overlooking the cool rock formations on the Echo Canyon hiking trail in Chiricahua National Monument

The Ultimate Hiking Guide to Chiricahua National Monument

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Are you looking for the best hiking trails near Chiricahua National Monument? Here you can find information on its history, park hours, camping options, trail options, and so much more!

Chiricahua National Monument Hiking Guide: An Overview

This blog post covers everything from information on the park, attractions within the park, how to best prepare for your trip, and some of the best hiking trails! Before we get into all of that, here is an overview of the Chiricahua National Monument trails we’ll cover in this post.

  • Easy Hiking Trails
  • Bonita Creek Trail
  • Massai Point Nature Trail
  • Echo Canyon Grottes
  • Moderate Hiking Trails
  • Natural Bridge Trail
  • Lower Rhyolite Canyon
  • Echo Canyon Loop
  • Strenuous Hiking Trails
  • Inspiration Point
  • Heart of Rocks
  • The Big Loop
Some of the pinnacles at a hiking trail in Chiricahua National Monument

Hiking at Chiricahua National Monument

Let’s get to the good stuff! Here are nine of the best hiking trails, ranging from beginner to experienced, for you to choose from on your next adventure at Chiricahua National Monument!

Easy Hiking Trails – Chiricahua National Monument

  • Bonita Creek Trail – 1.3 miles; Out & Back; Average time of 26 minutes to complete; 52 feet elevation gain. Dogs are allowed on leashes. This trail connects the Faraway Ranch and Bonita Creek picnic areas.
  • Massai Point Nature Trail – .5 miles; Loop; Average time of 10 minutes to complete; 52 feet elevation gain. No dogs are allowed on this trail. The paved portion is wheelchair accessible. You’ll look at grand vistas, a balanced rock, and educational signs highlighting the history of the area.
  • Echo Canyon Grottes – 1.0 mile; Out & Back; Average time of 22 minutes to complete; 78 feet elevation gain. No dogs are allowed on this trail. Walk among the rock formations.
Views at Chiricahua National Monument

Moderate Hiking Trails – Chiricahua National Monument

  • Natural Bridge Trail – 4 miles; Out & Back; Average time of 2 hours 12 minutes to complete; 1,010 feet elevation gain. No dogs are allowed on this trail. This is the least used trail in the monument, so you’ll enjoy solitude on this hike. Climb through wood and juniper woodlands to a ridge and into the pine forest.
  • Lower Rhyolite Canyon – 3.9 miles; Out & Back; Average time of 1 hour 54 minutes to complete; 748 feet elevation gain. This mostly level trail takes you through a canyon lined with rock spires.
  • Echo Canyon Loop – 4.0 miles; Loop; Average time of 1 hour and 46 minutes to complete; 593 feet elevation gain. No dogs are allowed on this trail. This route winds through rock spires (Grottoes, Wallstreet, Echo Park), desert landscapes, and pine trees.
Looking through rock formations at Chiricahua National Monument

Strenuous Hiking Trails – Chiricahua National Monument

  • Inspiration Point – 5.2 miles; Out & Back; Average time of 2 hours 35 minutes to complete; 1,043 elevation gain. No dogs are allowed on this trail. You’ll see fantastic views of Cochise Head and Rhyolite Canyon on this route.
  • Heart of Rocks – There are multiple routes on this trail. Decide whether you’d like to hit the Visitors Center, Echo Canyon, Massai Point, and/or Heart of Rocks. Most of these hikes fall within the 7-mile range.
  • The Big Loop – 8.7 miles; Loop; Average time of 4 hours 24 miles to complete; 1,817 feet elevation gain. No dogs are allowed on this trail. This trail combines all of the best wilderness scenery.

Attractions Within Chiricahua National Monument

Now that we’ve covered some of the best hiking trails at Chiricahua National Monument, let’s look at some of the other fantastic attractions located within the park. If you’re short on time during your visit and can’t hike through Chiricahua National Monument, consider visiting one of these attractions instead!

  • Erickson Cemetry: Settlers who called this place home were buried on site.
  • Faraway Ranch: This ranch was owned by the Swedish immigrant Neil Erickson who became the first ranger for the Chiricahua National Forest Reserve. You can take tours from this ranch today!
  • Massai Point: Some of the early National Park Service and US Forest Service employees believed Massai Point to be a fantastic overlook and built roads and trails to the summit.

About Chiricahua National Monument

Now that we’ve covered the best hikes and attractions in Chiricahua National Monument, let’s look at background information on this wonderful area!


Chiricahua National Monument is located in Southeastern Arizona, four miles east of the 181 and 186 junctions. It is about 30 miles east of Wilcox and 120 miles southeast of Tucson.

Location of Chiricahua National Monument


In the years between the 1400s and 1500s, the Chiricahua Apache called this territory their homeland. They were known as nomadic people who lived in huts and traveled to preferable climates throughout the year.

After the Mexican-American war, the Southwest became a part of the United States in 1848. Shortly after, early pioneers such as Louis Prue and Mary and Tom Bridger called Chiricahua home.

Learn more about other settlers who called Chiricahua National Monument home here.


27 million years ago, a nearby volcanic eruption spat ash into the atmosphere that eventually landed and created hardened volcanic rock. As time went on, the volcanic rock eroded into rock spires (tall pinnacles) made out of Rhyolite.

In the park, you can find these rock spires, caves, mountains, rivers, and lava flows. The Chiricahua Apache called this area “The Land of Standing Up Rocks.” The Chiricahua Mountains are 20 miles wide and 40 miles long on an inactive volcanic range.

Cool voodoos at Chiricahua National Monument


The biome in the Chiricahua mountain region has varying ecosystems that inhabit many different kinds of animals. You can find both a grassland desert and pine forest landscape in the mountain range.

Some of the most common amphibians seen are the canyon treefrog, tiger salamander, great plains toad, and the southern spadefoot toad. Commonly seen mammals are javelinas, white-tailed deer, skunks, coatimundi, cottontail rabbits, the gray fox, and the big brown bat. Snakes, lizards, and turtles are commonly spotted reptiles.

All animals and wildlife are protected in this area. There are thousands of insects and bird species also found in the monument. Learn more here.

Visiting the Park

Next, now that we’ve covered the park’s history, let’s dive deeper into hours, fees, campsites, and the breathtaking scenic drive.

Sam overlooking the cool rock formations on the Echo Canyon hiking trail in Chiricahua National Monument

Hours + Fees

Chiricahua National Monument is open 24 hours, every day of the year, including holidays! It is completely free to enter, and no fees are required unless you are camping. There is one visitor center that is open seven days a week from 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM.

The visitor center is closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. There is a free shuttle available from the visitors’ center to access different parts of the park. You can call the information line here: (520) 824-3560.


There is one campground on site: Bonita Canyon. It has 25 campsites that include restrooms, potable water, trash pickup, food storage lockers, an amphitheater, and picnic tables. There is one group site available. Unfortunately, there are no hook-ups or showers.

Campsites cost $20 per night, and you can make your reservation at The maximum vehicle length is 29 feet. Dogs are allowed on campgrounds, however, they are prohibited from many trails.

Scenic Drive

Take the eight-mile scenic drive up to Massai Point where you’ll get 360 views of the monument. Make sure to fill up with gas before you go – the closest gas stations are almost 40 miles away! Any vehicle over 24 feet is prohibited from making the drive, however, vehicles up to 29 feet are still allowed to camp.

Need to rent a car for your trip? Book with here!

Sam in Chiricahua

Go Prepared

Lastly, let’s discuss how to best prepare. There are a few things to know before your hiking trip at Chiricahua National Monument! Here are some safety tips:

  1. Make sure you have enough gas! The closest gas station is almost 40 miles away in Sunizona or Wilcox.
  2. Pack layers. There is a huge selection gain from the bottom of the mountain to the top, and you can potentially experience four seasons at the monument. Make sure that you bring warm clothing for higher elevations.
  3. Bring the right shoes. Most of these hikes are steep and rocky. Since you’ll be hiking in the desert, make sure that you bring shoes that have adequate ankle support and tread. It can also become slippery during the wintertime if there is snow.
  4. Inform others of your travel plans. There is no (or limited) cell reception at the monument, so make sure to let others know which trail you’ll be on and how long you plan on staying in the area.
  5. Bring plenty of food and water, but do it smartly! Make sure you are getting enough to eat and drink while you are there but make sure to leave no trace. Never feed the animals, and use food lockers while camping.

Where To Stay Near Chiricahua National Monument

Now that we’ve covered a ton of information about the park, it’s time to talk about potential accommodation options for your upcoming trip. If camping isn’t your thing, don’t worry, there are other great options available to you!

Accommodations will be a little bit outside of the park in towns such as Elfrida, Tombstone, and Bisbee. Elfrida is a good option for those looking for the shortest drive solely to experience Chiricahua, while Tombstone and Bisbee are a bit farther but are destination towns in themselves.

Here are three different options located not far from Chiricahua!

  • Cozy House Rental (Pet Friendly!) – Located in Elfrida, Arizona, this cozy house rental gives you a nice home-away-from-home vibe during your stay! It’s about a 45-minute drive to get into the park.

  • Arizona Sunset Inn (Pet Friendly!) – The Arizona Sunset Inn is by far the closest choice for booking near Chiricahua in Wilcox, Arizona. It’s rated highly for its service, cleanliness, and amenities!

  • Log Cabins (Pet Friendly!) – These miner cabins are located in downtown Tombstone, Arizona which are also a great spot to stay if you’re looking to get a historic feel during your trip! Drive the 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach Chirichaua!

Wondering if you should stay in Tombstone? Check out my blog post on 17 things to do in Tombstone, Arizona, and why it’s worth visiting!

Our Pick: Arizona Sunset Inn in Wilcox!

What a cool view in Chiricahua

Hiking in Chiricahua: FAQ’s

Fantastic! Now that you know information on the park, how to prepare for your trip, and some of the cool places to visit, let’s go over some frequently asked questions!

What is the best time of year to visit the Chiricahua National Monument?

Generally, the best time to visit Chiricahua National Monument for hiking is during the Spring or Fall. The high elevation of the park means that you can expect to experience all four seasons. If you decide to go in the Summer or Winter, make sure you prepare for the temperatures!

Is Chiricahua National Monument worth visiting?

The short answer: Yes, Chiricahua National Monument is worth visiting! The hoodoos and diverse landscape make this park a southern Arizona must-see. The pinnacles and balanced rocks are one of the reasons this spot is a hidden treasure.

How much time is needed at Chiricahua National Monument?

Chiricahua National Monument is a fairly small park that spans only about 17 miles, although there is plenty to do while you’re there. If you’re short on time, you can certainly fit a lot in during a day trip, but if you want to extend your trip for a few days, there’s more than enough to explore in that timeframe.

Do you have to pay to get into Chiricahua National Monument?

One of the many benefits of visiting Chiricahua National Monument is that an entrance pass is not required to access the park. There may be other associated fees, though depending on if you decide to camp or visit a different site in the park.

Cool overlook of some of the rock formations on a hiking trail in Chiricahua National Monument

Wrapping Up: Hiking in Chiricahua National Monument

This post has covered nine of the best hikes in Chiricahua National Monument, ranging from beginner to challenging! Now that you know a little about Chiricahua National Monument, I hope you take the chance to check out some of the trails for yourself! Make sure to look out for coatimundis while you’re there!

Happy hiking!