DENVER – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Chiricahua National Park Act on Thursday afternoon, pushing the “Wonderland of Rocks” one step closer to being the nation’s next national park.
Tucked between the Sonoron and Chihuahuan deserts at the southern edge of Rockies, the Chiricahua National Monument is one of Arizona’s unsung natural gems. Its distinctive rock formations were created by a volcanic eruption about 27 million years ago, resulting in an extraordinary landscape dotted with hoodoos and balancing rocks. The 18-square-mile area was established as a national monument in 1924 in order to protect the area’s unique geology and cultural history.
Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly introduced the Chiricahua National Park Act in the Senate in 2021 and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick introduced a version in the House of Representatives earlier this year. Supporters of the proposed park argue that an “upgrade” in the status would increase the proposed park’s recognition, which in turn would increase visitation. The designation now waits for the House version of the bill to pass.
Environment America Public Lands Director Ellen Montgomery issued the following statement:
“This is exactly the type of area that deserves national park designation. The Chiricahua National Monument contains premier biological diversity. Tens of thousands of people visit to hike, camp, bird watch, do research and ride horses. People want more nature, and Congress can oblige by designating new national parks. We applaud the Senate for passing the Chiricahua National Park Act and hope that the House of Representatives follows suit soon.”