National Park Getaway: Coronado National Memorial

By Libby Shaaf, Acting Chief of Interpretation, Coronado National Memorial
furry animal near a tree
NPS Photo

A coatimundi is one of many animals that live in this crossroads between two deserts and two mountain ranges.

Be ready to learn and explore when you arrive at Coronado National Memorial. The memorial is situated in southeastern Arizona along the US–Mexico border to commemorate and interpret the influence of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado's expedition of 1540–1542. While Coronado and his expedition may have been unsuccessful in finding gold, the blend of cultures between the Spanish and the American Indians he came across helped shape what we know today as the American Southwest. Though no tangible evidence of his explorations was left behind in the park boundaries, visitors can appreciate the effect of this vast journey as they explore the park and its brand-new exhibits in the visitor center.

After you have spent some time in the visitor center, get ready to venture outside and explore the grounds. Coronado National Memorial is at the southernmost point of the Huachuca Mountain Range and a part of the sky islands region. Isolated mountain regions tower over desert valleys, creating huge gaps in elevation and an array of habitat.

Come and admire this scenic vista from the Montezuma Pass Overlook by driving three miles west of the visitor center on an accessible unpaved, winding mountain road. From the overlook you can access a variety of trails, including a quick half-mile hike up to Coronado Peak, or experience some of the Arizona National Scenic Trail by hiking down the Yaqui Ridge to a US-Mexico International Boundary Marker. Whether you are hiking or driving up to the pass, you will have an opportunity to see the variety of natural resources the memorial has to offer.

Craving an adventure underground? Then quench your thirst with a trip into Coronado Cave. This limestone cave was formed about 250–300 million years ago when southern Arizona was covered by a shallow sea. Take some time and enjoy the undeveloped depths to view beautiful formations like stalactites and stalagmites. But remember, cave safely and cave softly. Learn how to prepare for your spelunking journey.

Located approximately 98 miles southeast of Tucson, Arizona, Coronado National Memorial is easily accessible. It's a great day trip for the entire family. For directions and more information, visit our website. We look forward to seeing you soon.

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Last updated: March 22, 2016