Chiricahua National Monument Acting Superintendent Matt Stoffolano announced today that portions of the Bonita Canyon Campground will be closed beginning Monday, July 7. The campground is located near the mouth of Bonita Canyon and several streams flow through the vicinity. In anticipation of heavy monsoon rains, around 10 of the 25 sites in the campground will be closed for the next few months. “Our highest priority is always the safety of our visitors and staff,” said Stoffolano on Monday. “Closing certain sites in the campground allows us to mitigate some of the risk associated with camping in locations that can be prone to flash flooding”.
Areas that have experienced large fires, such as the Horseshoe II fire that burned over 200,000 acres in and around Chiricahua National Monument (NM) in 2011, have an increased risk of flash flooding. Floods are significantly larger following fires and floodwaters can carry debris that may be hazardous to campers and their property. During monsoon campers should never camp in washes or low lying areas.
Local residents and visitors are reminded that conditions can change rapidly during monsoon. Hikers are encouraged to check weather forecasts before heading out and to pay attention to their surroundings. Soils in a burned landscape can create slippery conditions, and mud and rockslides can be triggered by the heavy rainfall events that are typical during monsoon.
In addition to the campground closures, Acting Superintendent Stoffolano also reminds people that Chiricahua NM is one of many public lands that are currently under fire restrictions. “Although monsoon rains should be coming any day now, present conditions are extremely dry. Careless or unlawful use of fire in the outdoors could lead to trouble very quickly,” said Stoffolano. “It is imperative that everyone pays attention to fire restrictions. As an added reminder, don’t forget that fireworks, including ‘sparklers’, are always prohibited on National Park Service lands.”
Park managers hope to open the entire campground in time for Labor Day weekend, but the final decision will be based on safety considerations at that time. Visitors planning a trip to the park can contact the Chiricahua NM visitor center staff at 520-824-3560, ext. 0 for more information about fire restrictions, as well as safety tips for hiking and camping during monsoon. Information is also available at www.nps.gov/chir.
Chiricahua National Monument is located four miles east of the junction of Arizona Highways 186 and 181. No food or gasoline is available at the park. The campground operates on a first-come, first-serve basis and all entrance and camping fees have been waived throughSeptember 30, 2014.