Wow, we sure found a hidden little gem in Coronado National Memorial Park. It is a smaller park in Southern Arizona. In 1540, Francisco Vazquez de Coronado y Lujan led an expedition from Mexico to what is now Kansas. Around 300 soldiers, 800 Indians and slaves set of in search of riches, passing through the area. Today we hiked from the Visitor Center up Joe’s Canyon to Montezuma’s Pass and on up to Coronado Peak before turning back. All together it was about 6.8 miles.
The hike started with a gradual climb up the canyon where we encountered patches of snow, gaining 1000 feet in the first mile. Once we reached the ridge, we came across a sign that said Mexico was just one mile south. We continued along the ridge up to the pass before turning on the Coronado Peak Trail for a hike up rocky stairs to the summit. The view is worth the effort! Part ways up there is a sign board that talks about the step counter that accompanied the Coronado Expedition. Apparently, some guys job was to count the steps he took each days so he could calculate the distance they traveled each day. Oof, what a job.
After a quick picnic lunch back at the car, we did another hike out to see Coronado Cave. It was only a mile, but steep and rocky in spots. To get into the cave you have to shimmy through an opening and scramble down rocks into the darkness. We carried flashlights and walked back in about 600 feet until we reached a skylight at the other end. Very cool to explore and we had the entire cave to ourselves!