Nature’s Crossroad: Coronado National Memorial, AZ, Part 2

Situated in oak woodlands on the southern edge of the Huachuca Mountains, the 4,750-acre park offers a visitors center, Coronado Cave, hiking trails, and a scenic drive that culminates at Coronado Pass overlook (elevation 6,575 feet/2004m) with breathtaking views of the San Pedro Valley to the southeast and the San Raphael Valley to the west. From there visitors can hike another ¾ mile to Coronado Peak at 6,864 feet/2092m.

Four major ecosystems meet in Southeastern Arizona: the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, the Rocky Mountains, and the Sierra Madre. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are few tangible artifacts or relics of Coronado’s expedition within the Memorial.

Visitors Center
Cultural interpretation is based on displays such as paintings depicting the expedition, authentic armor and weaponry, crafts, and interpretive text explaining the importance of the Spanish impact on the cultures of the region.

There is a nine-minute video on the history of the expedition, as well as a hands-on display of 16th century clothing and armor for visitors to handle, and try on.

Coronado Cave
Coronado Cave is located 0.75 mile past the visitor Center. From the parking area, a moderately steep 0.7 mile trail leads up a hillside to the cave.

To control the number of visitors a free permit must be obtained from the visitor center before hiking to the cave.

A scenic drive culminates at Coronado Pass overlook. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The cave is approximately 600 feet in length, 20 feet high, and 70 feet wide with several crawl ways and passages, none of which is very extensive. Enclosed within Coronado Cave can be found a beautiful range of formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, and helictites.

Montezuma Pass
The memorial road continues west of the visitor center up Montezuma Valley.

No vehicles longer than 24 feet are permitted.

As the road nears the end of the valley it ascends sharply with several tight turns and precipitous drop offs. The road soon reaches Montezuma Pass, close to the western edge of the memorial, a point with excellent views down the canyon and west over more desert and mountains for one of Arizona’s most breathtaking overlooks. There’s ample parking; you’ll want to walk around and soak up the view.

A short trail leads to the top of Coronado Peak with even better views, including south to distant mountains in Mexico. The panoramic view is breathtaking.

Montezuma Pass is also the trailhead for the southern terminus of the Great Arizona Trail.

From Montezuma Pass the unpaved and often rough forestry road leads through Coronado National Forest to Parker Canyon Lake. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From the pass the unpaved and often rough forestry road leads through Coronado National Forest to Parker Canyon Lake and on to Patagonia or alternately through the Arizona Wine Region near the small town of Elgin.

Did You Know?
The mountain ranges in southeast Arizona where Coronado National Memorial is located are called Sky Islands. They suddenly rise out of the flat desert landscape into the sky, like islands rising above a calm sea.

Worth Pondering…
Beauty before me I walk,
Beauty behind me I walk,
Beauty above me I walk,
Beauty below me I walk,
Beauty all about me I walk.
In beauty all is restored,
In beauty all is made whole.
—Navajo Blessing Way

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