• Natural Bridge Trail

    Chiricahua

    National Monument Arizona

Natural Features & Ecosystems

By far the most noticeable natural features in the monument are the rock pinnacles for which the monument was created to protect. Rising sometimes hundreds of feet into the air, many of these pinnacles are balancing on a small base, seemingly ready to topple over at any time. The Civilian Conservation Corps, during their occupation here in the 1930s, named many of the rock formations that can be seen today.

Other natural features related to the geology of the monument include shallow caves, faults, mountain formations, soils, the Turkey Creek Caldera, and lava flows. Another important natural feature found in the monument, and integral to the presence of flora and fauna, is water. Although water flows only intermittently on the surface, the monument contains all or parts of five major watersheds in the the northern Chiricahua Mountains. Seeps and springs are vital to the survival of most faunal species, and the one wetland marsh in the monument is host to two sensitive plant species. Groundwater supplies 100% of that needed by both the visitors to the monument and the monument staff. The combination of these natural features as related to geology and water, along with other resource necessities, have helped to determine the floral communities of the monument. Rich in diversity, the monument boasts many plant communities, including grasslands, deciduous and evergreen forests, scrublands, and deserts. These plant communities intermix throughout the monument, creating a truly diverse mosaic of species associations.

Big balanced rock is one of the most photographed features of Chiricahua National Monument.  It is 24.8 feet wide but sits on a base only 4.3 feet across.  It weighs 652 tons and is located at an elevation of 6865 feet.
Big Balanced Rock - W. Saenger

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