Coronado National Memorial

Naco, AZ

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.

Joe’s Canyon Trailhead

Typical sign on a trail near the border

The first mile has a pretty steep increase in elevation

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.

No smugglers on Smuggler’s Ridge today

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.

Montezuma Canyon Road

Blue skies and thin clouds added to the beautiful views along the trail.

Great view along the ridge

The line visible on the plains is the fence marking the International Border

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.

Made it!


Once at the peak we enjoyed great views to the south into Sonora, Mexico.

Lunch with a view

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!

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19 Responses to Coronado National Memorial

  1. Mary says:

    Nice hike with great views. It’s been windy here too. I wish the cholla were blooming here like in your photo. They must be a little behind here.

  2. debbiemc14 says:

    What a wonderful hike. I really like the clouds in the pictures.

  3. Sarah Eaton says:

    I’m the person who accosted you as you were leaving the parking lot at the visitor center. I hope we didn’t startle you too much! It was a pleasure to meet you and to now read of your day at Coronado National Memorial. We also had a great visit to Coronado and especially appreciated the view from Montezuma Pass. I have enjoyed reading your blog and am in awe of the hikes that you tackle on a regular basis.

  4. You must have seen the whole country on foot by now!

  5. Sounds like one of those near perfect days on the trail! Love those incredible vistas! Glad you didn’t get blown off the mountain!

  6. Sherry says:

    Love the selfie, love the lunchie! We’ve found that National Monuments and memorials are some of the nicest places to hike and often you have the whole trail to yourself. This looks like a wonderful hike on a beautiful day. Really nice pictures of how lovely it was.

  7. pmbweaver says:

    Now, that header photo is awesome! Those thin clouds just make the photos outstanding.

    The vista view is wonderful…especially the little girl in the photo.

    This is our type of hike also. I don’t need all that scary climbing on the edge of the mountain any more!

  8. Jodee Gravel says:

    What great views, and the clouds add such dimension – wonderful pics! It’s a national memorial with historical significance…….somehow “Joe’s” for the trail name seems so “not memorial” 🙂 Was the grass tickling your legs in the wind?

  9. Ingrid says:

    Looks like a perfect hike with fabulous views 🙂

  10. I almost went to Coronado in January! Do you think it is safe for a woman (who gets lost easily!) to hike alone there? Or do you think this is one I need to do with my husband or a friend? Is the trail clearly marked?

  11. Holly Ritger says:

    Definitely a perfect hike. I like it best when we are alone in the woods or on a trail. The silence allows me to tune into the nature all around us better. It gives me a great feeling of peace. I really enjoyed your photos, and always look for your “lunch with a view” shot. 😃

  12. Gay says:

    Oh wow! My kind of day! What beautiful sky pictures and scenery. I have tried to capture the wind on several differnt hikes…I love the way the grasses blow.

  13. Hello just found your blog via WinnieViews, will definitely follow you. We are still in our S&B house located between Palominas and Naco. We are clearing the house out in preparation to sell and go full time. Love your pictures. I also read your post on Bisbee and your breakfast at the BBC. Item of interest – if you are a Stephen King fan; the movie Desperation was filmed in Bisbee and extensively on that street.

    • placestheygo says:

      Welcome! Glad you found us. We’d love to have you follow us as we journey. You are at an exciting time when you start to clear the house for fulltiming. Good luck:)

      Thanks for the info on the Steve King movie. While we aren’t big fans, it would be neat to see the street now that we have been there:)

  14. Laurel says:

    What a gorgeous hike! I especially love the photos of the sheer veils of clouds against the deep blue sky. That must have been a crazy strong wind if it was blowing John’s hiking poles sideways!

  15. LuAnn says:

    This looks like a great hike, another to add to our ever-growing list. Love the photo of the single tree against a background of wispy clouds and blue sky. 🙂

  16. Wow, another one of you gorgeous hike up to the mountains, but not sure about hiking with a wind blowing like that. All photos are great capturing the beauty around you but I like the eight picture the best, the veil of clouds against a blue sky.

  17. Great views. Wish I was there.

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