This week I’d like to do another picture-based post: this time to Faraway Ranch. The ranch is in Chiricahua National Monument, and quite accessible from the road. It was once run as a dude ranch, with the family taking visitors on saddle rides through the formations of Chiricahua such as Heart of Rocks. Today, it’s a cluster of buildings in a sheltered valley near the road into the national monument. It’s pretty peaceful and charming place today and is a nice place to relax and saunter for ¼ to ½ hour. The entire trail is less than 0.5 miles (0.8 km) RT.
Before we begin our picture story, let me give you a little background. Faraway Ranch was originally purchased by Emma Erickson in December, 1886, not long before her marriage to Neil Erickson. Both were Swedish immigrants. (Initially, the area had been settled by J. Hughes Stafford in 1879; in the following years the area was also used by an African-American army unit.) The couple struggled to farm the rough, dry land, so Neil found it necessary to work in a distant town; this sometimes caused them to be separated for months at a time. Twelve years after their marriage, the couple was well enough off to replace the original log cabin with a two-story, board-and-batten style frame house. In 1915, Neil was offered (and accepted) the job of becoming the very first ranger for the Chiricahua Forest Reserve, allowing him to stay home with his wife. By this time, the couple had three children: Lillian, Ben, and Hildegarde. Needing more space for his family, Neil built an adobe and board-and-batten two-and-a-half-story house.
Only two years later, Neil was promoted to district forest ranger and required to relocate to Flagstaff. Neil and Emma moved, but the couple’s oldest daughter, Lillian, who was college-educated and previously had taught school part-time. Lillian managed the cattle-ranching operations, but eventually expanded her business to include guest ranching (today’s dude ranging) by letting rooms and offering horseback guided tours of the area for a small fee.
In 1923, two events changed Lillian’s life forever. The first event was her marriage to local Ed Riggs, who expanded her trail ride program and promoted the area as a “wonderland of rocks”. His efforts greatly increased tourism in the area, as well as led to Chiricahua National Monument being established in 1924. After the establishment of the Monument, Ed would supervise the construction of horse and hiking trails throughout the park. He also continued to manage the maintenance of the ranch until his death in 1950. The second event was an accident in which Lillian fell from a horse and suffered a head injury that eventually took her sight. However, Lillian continued to run the ranch through foreman and hired hands into her 80s. Guest operations at Faraway Ranch continued into the mid-1960s, but Lillian managed the ranch on and off until her death in 1977.
After Lillian’s death, the National Park Service acquired the property and restored it with original furnishings; this is what is seen at Faraway Ranch today. It’s a walk through time, and I like visiting in the early evening or late afternoon, when the sun shines at an angle into the old ranch building area.
The trail begins at the far end of the parking area near the signboards. It’s not hard to find. Walk for about 0.1 miles (0.1 km) and you’ll come to the first sign of the ranch: the old windmill.
Next come some paddocks. I love the mountain in the background.
A series of old sheds and a horse stable are the next attractions. The names of each of the horses in the saddle room is fun!
Looking back the way we came.
I turned right instead of left and came to the guest rooms (bunkhouse). You can’t actually go inside, but it’s fun to look in the windows and doors.
The path takes you across a bridge…
…and then to a whitewashed building that you can probably go into (try the door). This holds exhibits about Faraway Ranch and area history. I didn’t spend too much time here because I had little ones with me who were more interested in the outside attractions. Well, that and I knew the rest of the group was making supper in the picnic area next to the parking lot, and I wanted to be finished touring the ranch by the time I got the supper call. But it would be a great place for history buffs to hang out for a very long time!
Continuing beyond the exhibit building, there are rows of benches that are used for interpretive programs, as well as signs about the Ericksons and Faraway Ranch. Don’t miss the triangle hanging off a nearby tree – it’s a great thing to bang noisily!
After enjoying the bell, walk over the ranch house proper. Again, you can’t go inside, but you can ascend the stairs to the second story porch.
Peak in the windows – it’s furnished in the period style. Also, be sure to walk all the way around the house. There’s so much to see, including an old refrigerator, a screened-off well, and even a dining room table completely set with china and “food”! (And keep an eye out for the swimming pool, too!)
Continuing out of the house’s yard and then around the path, you will pass several small buildings, junk heaps, and other features.
Then you’ll come back to the gates leading into the ranch area. Turn right to go back to your vehicle.
And what do you know, but when we got here we met the “supper callers” coming to find us…What perfect timing!
Round Trip Trail Length: Less than 0.5 miles (0.8 km)
Net Elevation Change: About 20 ft. (6 m)
Facilities: Restrooms (with real running water) and a picnic area in the parking lot
$5 per person entrance fee to enter Chiricahua National Monument. America the Beautiful (Interagency), Senior (Golden Age), Access (Golden Access), Volunteer, Military, and Chiricahua Annual Passes also accepted Update: The entrance fees to Chiricahua have been eliminated, so you can now visit for free!
Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this?
GPS Coordinates for Faraway Ranch:
Faraway Ranch Trailhead: 32.00867N / -109.37501W (32° 0′ 31.212″ / -109° 22′ 30.036″) (5,192 ft.; 1,582 m)
Windmill: 32.00864N / -109.37388W (32° 0′ 31.1034″ / -109° 22′ 25.9674″) (5,200 ft.; 1,585 m)
Barn: 32.00867N / -109.37345W (32° 0′ 31.212″ / -109° 22′ 24.42″) (5,206 ft.; 1,586 m)
Outbuilding: 32.00846N / -109.37313W (32° 0′ 30.4554″ / -109° 22′ 23.268″) (5,213 ft.; 1,589 m)
Veranda: 32.00828N / -109.37305W (32° 0′ 29.8074″ / -109° 22′ 22.98″) (5,214 ft.; 1,589 m)
Tool Shed: 32.00878N / -109.37325W (32° 0′ 31.608″ / -109° 22′ 23.6994″) (5,204 ft.; 1,586 m)
Bridge: 32.00816N / -109.37297W (32° 0′ 29.3754″ / -109° 22′ 22.6914″) (5,213 ft.; 1,589 m)
Exhibit Building: 32.00819N / -109.37283W (32° 0′ 29.4834″ / -109° 22′ 22.1874″) (5,215 ft.; 1,589 m)
Main House: 32.00814N / -109.37249W (32° 0′ 29.3034″ / -109° 22′ 20.9634″) (5,224 ft.; 1,592 m)
Junk Pile: 32.00880N / -109.37326W (32° 0′ 31.68″ / -109° 22′ 23.736″) (5,203 ft.; 1,585 m)
Last two buildings: 32.00856N / -109.37291W (32° 0′ 30.816″ / -109° 22′ 22.476″) (5,204 ft.; 1,586 m)
The gpx file for Faraway Ranch can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.
Download GPX File size: 20.5 KB Downloaded 5 times
(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website. Thanks!)
Getting to Faraway Ranch:
From I-10 in Arizona, take Exit 340 in Willcox. Head southeast (left if you’re coming from the east, right if you’re coming from the west) on Fort Grant Road/W Rex Allen Drive for 1.1 miles (1.7 km). Turn right onto AZ-186 E (signs will point toward Interstate 10 Business). After 0.7 miles (1.1 km), turn left to continue on AZ-186 E; drive 31.4 miles (50.5 km). Turn left onto AZ-181 for 3 miles (4.8 km), then continue on E Bonita Canyon Road for 0.9 miles (1.4 km) to the Faraway Ranch Parking Area, on left.
If you’re coming from the visitor center, turn left out of the parking area and drive 1.3 miles (2 km) the Faraway Ranch parking area, on right.
This Week’s Featured Product!
Want to know more about the natural and cultural history of Chiricahua? This book covers the park and surrounding area history, including Apaches, the US Calvary, minders, ranchers, and Civilian Conservation Corp.
Thu Aug 17
Mainly clear. Lows overnight in the low 60s.
Fri Aug 18
Sunshine along with some cloudy intervals. High 94F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.
Sat Aug 19
Partly cloudy skies. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 91F. SSE winds shifting to NW at 10 to 15 mph.
Sun Aug 20
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Scattered thunderstorms in the morning. Partly cloudy skies late. High 87F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.
Mon Aug 21
Intervals of clouds and sunshine in the morning with more clouds for later in the day. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 87F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.