Just twenty miles to the west of our RV site in Naco is Coronado National Memorial. A National Memorial is a designation for a protected area that memorializes a historic person or event. This memorial commemorates the first organized expedition into the Southwest by Spanish conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado that passed nearby in 1540.
We began our hike on the Joe’s Canyon Trail that begins across the street from the visitors center. From the trailhead the trail climbs about 1000 feet in the first mile, with scenic views of Montezuma Canyon and the San Pedro River Valley.
After reaching the saddle at the top of Smuggler’s Ridge, the trail continues westward with southerly views deep into the grasslands of Sonora, Mexico. The wind was very strong as we made our way across the ridge. Our goal was to reach the top of Coronado Peak, shown in the distance of the photo below.
A zoom photo of the peak reveals a ramada covering a bench. That looked like a great spot for lunch!
As we hiked across the ridge toward the peak we could see the Montezuma Canyon Road below us. This is a dirt road that leads up across Montezuma’s Pass, just below Coronado Peak, and continues west through the memorial.
Blue skies and thin clouds added to the beautiful views along the trail.
At the end of Joe’s Canyon Trail (3.1 miles), we joined the Coronado Peak Trail for a climb of .2 of a mile to the summit.
Once at the peak we enjoyed great views to the south into Sonora, Mexico.
After enjoying lunch at the peak, it was time to head back down the trail. As we went back across Smuggler’s Ridge the wind really began to get strong. It’s difficult to show this in a photo but if you look at the one below you can see the grass leaning to the left. And John is carrying his hiking poles because the wind kept blowing them sideways. Fortunately, the day was warm so the wind was not a big deal.
This was just the kind of hike we like. It was not extremely long (6.5 miles), but had some challenging elevation gains. The views along the way were impressive. Also, we had the trail all to ourselves, as we didn’t see a single person as we hiked!