Located in SE Arizona, this is an amazing spectacle of extraordinary rock sculptures that have been created by natural erosion over millions of years. This area was once the homeland of the fiercely proud and brave Chiricahua Apaches.
About 27 million years ago violent volcanic eruptions gave rise to vast quantities of white hot ash being spread over large regions to a considerable depth. The ash, launched at intervals, eventually formed a thick volcanic layer of rock known as rhyolite.
Eventually the Chiricahua Mountains were formed by upheavals of this rock. Over millions of years of erosion, including the action of water, rain and ice, these forces of nature sculptured the rocks into odd-looking formations. The upheaval created many horizontal and vertical cracks. These were exploited again by the forces of nature, to provide the fascinating vertical structures that we see today.
The Chiricahua Mountains were once the homeland of the Chiricahua Apaches. They were led into battle against intruders of their homeland by Cochise and Geronimo. For over 25 years they attempted to preserve ownership of their adpoted land, and were extremely successful in evading the searches by the US Cavalry. The Apaches were able to hide easily in rugged and remote areas of Chiricahua and Dragoon Mountains, including the area where the Chiricahua National Monument was established in 1924.
The establishment of Chiricahua National Monument is largely a result of the tireless efforts of Lillian Erickson, daugher of early settlers Neil and Emma Erickson. With her husband, Ed Riggs, Lillian was eventually able to convince local and national leaders to adopt the area they knew as "The Wonderland of Rocks"
This 'Wonderland of Rocks' provides homes for many species trees, wildflowers, and animals. Apart from the natural species of life the Southwest, the area also provides homes for those species which have drifted north, from neighboring Mexico, a mere 50 miles away. The area, with its cool moist forest 'sky islands', represents a stark contrast to the surrounding hot and dry areas of the Sonoran and Chiricahuan desrts
This is "Faraway Ranch", where the generations of the Swedish settlers, the Eriksons, lived and worked hard to promote the natural beauty of the surroundings near Bonita Canyon. Life was not easy in this remote part of Arizona, and they were under constant threat in the early years of Apache raids.