With the first defeat of not finding Fort Bowie due to the horrendous nature of the road, I continued on my chosen path around this valley that seemed as big as all Arizona. My route looked rather short as I perused the map, but driving it was another story altogether. I told myself .... SELF! At least it's paved and I have lots of fuel.
Surprisingly out in the middle of nowhere, there were a few farmhouses here and there. Noticing however that all three of those cars I passed were going in the opposite direction, gave me pause. I had gone so far I think I crossed over into California since the time on my watch said 2:00.
At long last I spotted a sign for the Chiricahua National Monument. A few miles down the road at the mouth of a canyon I passed the National Park entrance. The road narrowed until it came to the Visitor's Center which was packed with cars. I think I'll pass. I did notice lots of signs saying no vehicles longer than 24 foot.
As I drove up the canyon, the road narrowed again. The scenery was getting better and better, but there was no place to stop and take pictures. There were several small turnouts, but they were all on the far side of the road with not enough room to turn around. I kept driving.
All I could think of was these mountains look like Indians still standing here tall and strong. Wouldn't it be cool to ride my horse through this canyon!!
The canyon narrowed even more and just when I thought I would top out on the mountain, there was another canyon. Sadly, we all know what happened to the Indians in this area. They fought for food and resources with the Spanish, and just when they thought everything would be okay, here comes the pale people who killed indiscriminately.
Great Chiefs roamed these hills with names like Mangus, Cochise and Geronimo. Initially they got along with the white people because their real enemy at the time was those across the Mexican border. By the time the gold and silver miners showed up, war broke out everywhere. We all know what happened after that.
There are many cool rock formations, but with no place to park, I didn't get many shots. The National Park was established in 1924 to protect the hoodoos and balancing rocks. There is a small campground here, but you must have a tent or a very tiny rig.
I kept going, thinking eventually there would be a place to turn around. The road got even narrower as I tried to keep my truck from hitting the rocks on the side wall. Around the back of the mountain, the cliffs dropped off dramatically.
At last the road (still paved) ended in a very small circular parking lot. I skinnied in front of a pickup truck, but had to get so close to the bushes, I couldn't get out. With no other parking prospects, I squeezed across the console dragging my camera behind.
This is the first sight you see. Watch your footing as it's steep with lots of shale to slip on. I was headed down when a gentleman said the view was much better from up top.
I skirted around some huge boulders, climbing up on top of one to find this view. The picture doesn't do it justice. This has to be one of the best sights in Arizona next to the Grand Canyon.
The hoodoos are amazing to see. There are trails leading off the mountain top, but I didn't wander down any, thinking it was already 2:00 and I had a long drive back. Come to find out my watch was playing tricks on me.
This pictures shows the mountain with half of the soil washed away, leaving the solid rock formations. No wonder the Indians hung out here. There's water and animals for food ... that's all they needed.
At last I headed on out to the highway, not sure which way to turn, I spotted this old school house near Ash Creek. So far the only information I have been able to locate is the creek has Apache Trout.
THIS time I checked my watch it was still 2:00. What the heck??? Okay, I'll take the long road home instead of going back the way I came through Willcox.
I drove and drove and DROVE!! Where the heck does this road go?? I was sure I was in Mexico!! Maps are deceiving. It looked like a short jaunt across the valley. It was NOT! I thought I must be lost. There were no road markers or signs anywhere!!
I did not pass one single vehicle nor see any evidence of humans. At long last I spotted this angel/eagle flying something or other in the sky. It's a sign!!! I'm either going to die or I'm going the right direction.
At LAST!! Civilization, or at least one really old bar with a few trucks parked out front. This looked a little familiar and I finally saw a sign for Dragoon. THAT I know!! At long last I made it home after a 7 hour driving day.
My advice is to go see the Chiricahua National Monument and return to Willcox on Highway 186. Be sure and take lots of food and water and plan for an entire day's jaunt!!! I for one, will be going back for some hiking.