The entire Bonita Canyon Campground at Chiricahua National Monument near Willcox, Ariz. has reopened following repairs due to mid-July damage from flash flooding and an easing of concerns over additional significant flash flooding during the monsoon.
The National Weather Service defines Sept. 30 as the official end to the monsoon; however, current conditions in the monument, including low soil moisture levels and low probability for precipitation, have allowed managers to reopen the campground.
The upper portion of Bonita Canyon Drive and the Bonita Canyon Campground in Chiricahua National Monument reopened on Aug. 30, 2012. Heavy rains and resulting flash flooding forced the closure of both the scenic road and the campground on Aug. 17.
Monument staff began assessing the damage and cleaning up debris immediately following the storms.
The sheer amount of work that needed to be done, along with additional rainfall leading to more flooding over the Aug. 18-19 weekend, kept the roadway and campground closed for nearly two weeks.
"The safety of our visitors and staff is always our first priority," Superintendent Lane Baker said.
Each site includes a fire grate, picnic table, and a place to pitch a tent or park a small RV or trailer. Campground restrooms include flush toilets.
Vehicles exceeding 29 feet in length are not allowed in the campground. Wood collection is prohibited in the monument; campers should bring firewood or charcoal with them.
As the temperatures cool down, more people are likely to be enjoying the outdoors.
Hikers are always encouraged to check weather forecasts before heading out and pay attention to their surroundings. Contact the Chiricahua National Monument visitor center at (520) 824-3560 ext.302.
For more information regarding hiking and camping in the monument or visit www.nps.gov/chir .
Chiricahua National Monument is known for its "Wonderland of Rocks" waiting for visitors to explore. The 8-mile paved scenic drive and 17-miles of day-use hiking trails provide opportunities to discover the beauty, natural sounds, and inhabitants of this 11,985 acre site. If you have time, visit the Faraway Ranch Historic District to discover more about the people who have called this area home.
Chiricahua National Monument is located four miles east of the junction of Arizona Highways 186 and 181, and is about 120 miles southeast of Tucson.
Visitors should obtain gas in Willcox, because gasoline is not available at or near the monument. Also, bring your own drinks and snacks. There are no vending machines at Chiricahua National Monument.
The nearest restaurants are in Willcox, Ariz. (35 miles northwest) and Elfrida, Ariz. (40 miles southwest).
And one more thing: Don't forget about the possible impacts of the elevation.
The Visitor Center is at 5,400 feet (1,646 meters) and Massai Point rises 6,870 feet (2,094 meters). Watch out for altitude sickness. Signs include: headache, nausea, shortness of breath, and tiredness.