March 1, 2019Places We've BeenThe Chiricahua National Monument is located in Willcox, Arizona. That’s Willcox and not Winslow, Arizona like you might be thinking from that Eagles song: “Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.” (Winslow is in a different part of the state; we’ll save that for another blog post). Willcox, AZ is a small town off Interstate 10, about 80 miles Southeast of Tucson. Willcox is home to the Chiricahua National Monument. It’s also the state’s largest grape-growing region and home to several great wineries.
We stayed at the Grande Vista RV Park. The park was clean and quiet with simple gravel, pull-through sites for short-term stays. We met a family living in their Airstream, traveling across the country with their Dachshunds! We shared travel stories, toured each other’s trailers, and exchanged Airstream tips. This made our stay memorable. Sometimes it’s about the people, not the place, right? There are a few RV parks in Willcox, including a KOA. The town has very few restaurant choices and if you’re there on a Sunday hardly any.
Chiricahua National Monument
Chiricahua National Monument is made up of unique rhyolite rock formations. The rocks are pinnacle-shaped, giving the appearance of being stacked on top of each other throughout the landscape. The rock formations formed as a result of a volcanic eruption several million years ago, eventually causing the ash and debris to compact and form the rhyolite or stacked rock formations.
Hiking the Chiricahuas gives you an up-close look at the beautiful rock formations and unique ecological features otherwise mostly hidden amongst the rocks that surround them. There are several varieties of plant life including desert succulents, a pine forest, mushrooms, and mosses.
The Chiricahuas feature one of several “Sky Islands” in Arizona where the mountain ranges are elevated above the flat desert landscape seen off in the distance here.
If hiking isn’t your thing or you’re short on time, there are several scenic overlooks along the scenic drive where you can enjoy the beautiful vistas offered by these amazing rocks.
Chiricahua National Monument is open year-round and does not charge an entrance fee. They offer overnight camping, a free hiker shuttle, horseback riding trails, and several hiking trails. It is hot most of the year and especially in the summer. We were there in February and even though it was windy and cold at the start of our hike, we warmed up fast.
Willcox Wineries – Arizona’s Grape-Growing Hub!
When we think of Arizona, wine is not the first beverage that comes to mind. The desert is known more for its margaritas. So we were pleasantly surprised when we discovered Arizona has some great wineries, most of which are in the southern part of the state. A dry, warm climate makes Arizona ideal for growing grapes. Arizona wine regions include Sonoita, Willcox, and Verde Valley.
The first winery we visited was Coronado Vineyards, right off Interstate 10, which makes it a convenient place to stop. There was plenty of room to park the Airstream. Coronado offers wine by the glass, in addition to their tastings, and they have a beautiful outdoor space where you can enjoy your wine and the beautiful view of the vineyard and mountains behind them.
We visited two tasting rooms in Willcox: Aridus and Keeling Schaefer. Both tasting rooms are located downtown near the train tracks. We found space to park the Airstream there too. We’ve actually returned to these wineries on different occasions while driving through Willcox. Their convenient location right off I-10 makes it hard not to stop.
Keeling Schaefer’s tasting room is inside a historic bank building and features a large bar and casual seating. We enjoyed each experience when we visited. The tasting room employee was very attentive and friendly. She shared ideas for things to do in the area as well as some of her own travel experiences.
Aridus is across the train tracks in a newer building. The building and tasting room have a chic design. This is one of Aridus’ tasting rooms. The second is located in Scottsdale, AZ. But don’t let the fancy chic atmosphere and Scottsdale address intimidate you. We had friendly service each time we visited. On one occasion they were hosting a bridal shower in the seating area, and the employee did a great job of juggling us and the party. We enjoyed all their wines and purchased the Cab Franc along with a few Tank Series.
Other places to visit in Southern AZ
Patagonia State Park
Sonoita Wine Region
Mt Lemmon [...]