Chiricahua National Monument [backpacking]

Jornada Hiking & Outdoors Club
Jornada Hiking & Outdoors Club
Public group

NMSU Pan Am Center Parking lot

1810 East University · Las Cruces, NM

How to find us

Near the NM Park & Ride stop. See description for more details.

Location image of event venue


This Black Friday through Sunday, instead of wallowing in holiday consumerism, we'll be doing a camping/backpacking trip in southeast Arizona.

Plan to leave Las Cruces by 7 am from the Pan Am Center Parking Lot near the NM Park & Ride (this is one of the safer places in town to leave your car parked overnight). If you are coming from elsewhere (i.e. El Paso) please meet us in Las Cruces.

If we need to buy anything last-minute, we'll stop at the Walmart in Deming (the last "large" city we'll pass by). Don't worry about buying things on Thanksgiving.

From Deming, we'll head west on I-10 to Wilcox, AZ and take AZ 186 to Chiricahua National Monument. The entrance fee is $5/person. If you have a Federal Lands Pass please bring it so we can cut down on fees.

At Chiricahua National Monument, we'll setup and reserve camp at the Bonita Canyon Campground ($12 fee). From there we'll stop by the visitor's center, and then do a day hike on 1 of 2 trails, depending on time: the 5 mi Natural Bridge Trail, or the 8.5 mi Big Loop Trail. The latter is preferred; it catches a lot of the most scenic rock formations in the park. Unfortunately pets are not allowed on either trail, though they are allowed the monument campground.

On Saturday, we'll head out of the monument and head south on Forest Road 42 till it intersects w/ Forest Road 42D. If we've time, we'll take a short stop and run up Buena Vista Peak, for it's aptly named views. We'll continue to the end of Forest Road 42D to either Rustler Park or Long Park (however far we can get), and start hiking Crest Trail (T270). We'll follow the Crest Trail and will summit Chiricahua Peak. Coming down from Chiricahua Peak, we'll setup camp at a nearby campsite for Saturday night.

Sunday morning, we'll head back down the way we came back to our cars, and take Forest Road 42 back to Wilcox, AZ and back to Las Cruces.

Total mileage for the backpacking portion is about 12 mi, 5 mi in, and 5 mi out. This track on HikeArizona is similar to our trip. (

There are no fire restrictions in either the Chiricahua National Monument or Coronado National Forest. We'll be trying to build fires on both Friday and Saturday nights to keep ourselves that much warmer.

Please bring adequate cold weather gear. You do not need your snow jacket but the weather report has the temperatures dropping to the mid-30s on both nights. Highs during the days will reach 70°F. You should have a sleeping bag rated to at least 15°F. Please bring a sleeping bag liner and a fleece blanket, etc.