Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona

Nestled in the southeastern corner of Arizona, about an hour north of the Mexican border, is Chiricahua National Monument (pronounced CHEER-uh-COW-uh) — with amazing rock formations and gorgeous views to the surrounding, lower landscapes.

A lot of the vegetation there burned in one of the massive forest fires during 2011, and I haven't visited since then. But a lot of what makes the place special are the rock formations and the views. (Imagine some of the photos below with less green and more black... for the next decade or two, at least.)

View from Massai Point

Same as above, zoomed in

Around Massai Point

Formations like these are called tent rocks, hoodos, and other names too. (These are at Massai Point, but you'll find them all over the Southwest and beyond.) They're formed when rocks cover softer land underneath — and the softer land beneath is eroded away over time. That leaves the rock on top of a pillar.

High points like Chiricahua National Monument are called sky islands because they shelter high-altitude ecosystems above the hotter climates below. This photo shows that.

Tree along the edge of Massai Point

Hoodoo seen through two gnarled tree trunks

Plants sprout where they can between the rocks, giving views like this one at Massai Point

Hoodoos framed by more hoodoos at Massai Point

Balanced rock along Echo Canyon Trail near sunset. (Sunset is a great time to photograph formations like these!)

This sunset view is from the upper part of the Echo Canyon trail. Soon after this I headed down the hill to the campground and set my alarm for an early sunrise...

Dawn over distant hills from the highway to Massai Point

Rock on Massai Point just after sunrise

The edge of Massai Point, just after sunrise

Balanced rock along Echo Canyon Trail

From Echo Canyon Trail

Echo Canyon Trail

Leaning hoodoo along Echo Canyon Trail

Scorched tree limbs (from a fire before the one in 2011) along Echo Canyon Trail

Cliffs and toasted trees from the Echo Canyon Trail

Soaring above the Hailstone Trail

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(These photographs are Copyright © 2012 by Jerry Peek. Much higher-resolution versions of most images, and many other images too, are available at Jerry Peek Photography. Photos are available at reduced prices, or free, for non-commercial use.)

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