Thursday, November 24, 2016

Riding into the Chiricahua National Monument

We spent last night at the Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee, AZ, an old copper mining town and now home to artists, restaurants, and quirky little shops. The Copper Queen is supposed to be haunted, but we didn't hear - or see - any ghosts.

We're celebrating Thanksgiving by riding to the Chiricahua National Monument about 75 miles northeast of Bisbee. It was established in 1924 to protect the balancing rocks and hoodoos that were formed by volcanic activity 27 million years ago that eventually eroded into the fabulous rock formations we see today.

To get to the Chiricahua National Monument we headed west on AZ 80 and then rode on local 2-lane paved roads through the grasslands with distant views of mountains that cover this part of southeastern Arizona.

The Chiricahua Mountains are known as 'sky islands' because they're surrounded by vast acres of grasslands, similar to an island surrounded by the ocean.

The Chiricahua Apache called this area the "Land of Standing Up Rocks". The Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts meet here, along with the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Madre ranges making this a unique geographical area.

We rode on the 7-mile long paved road that winds through Bonita Canyon. The temperature dropped 12 degrees as we descended into the canyon, which is shaded by tall oak and cypress trees along the creek. The road climbs out of Bonita Canyon and winds around the mountain with distant views of the high mountain peaks. The park road ends at Massai Point at 6870'.

We stopped for two short hikes so we could see the rock formations up close at Massai Point and Echo Canyon.

We retraced our route back to Bisbee, continuing our non-traditional Thanksgiving by enjoying dinner in the Copper Queen Hotel's Saloon with a 100+ year old lifesize portrait of the British actress Lily Langtry that covered one entire wall.

Tomorrow we ride back home to Bisbee, swapping Black Friday shopping with something much more fun - riding the BMW motorcycle.


  1. Fun. That looks like the perfect way to spend the holiday. I'd heard of Bisbee before, they recommended it as a tiny retirement town in Sunset magazine a few years ago and I thought it sounded quaint to visit.

  2. Bisbee is quaint and quirky both at the same time. It's a wonderful place to visit and we're already planning another trip so we can take the copper mine tour and explore Bisbee a bit more.