Chiricahua Overview

The Chiricahuas are the largest range in southern Arizona and are different from most of the other ranges in having an extensive network of canyons and ridges.  Like the other ranges, the crest of the mountains is mostly a single continuous ridge, though it is one of the longest above 9000' in southern Arizona.  The rock spires of Chiricahua National Monument are about all that most people are aware of this mountain range, but this comprises just a small fraction of the area.  Due to being tucked in the far corner of the state, the Chiricahuas don't get much traffic and the vast rugged topography contributes to the wild feel of the mountains.  Large portions of the range, especially the crest around Chiricahua Peak, were burned by the Rattlesnake Fire of 1994.  Many parts of this burn were stand replacing and so intense that the soil was cooked to the point of being a sterile moonscape.  Some areas still struggle to support larger plants especially after much of the soil was washed away by ensuing rains.  This was one of many forest fires in the west that was unnaturally intense and widespread due to fire suppression policies.

View of the Chiricahuas and surrounding grasslands from the slopes of the Dos Cabezas Mountains.