1941: Coronado International Memorial
About the MonumentThis Monument in southeastern Arizona celebrates the path taken by Coronado as he searched for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. Coronado left Mexico's west coast in February of 1540 and traveled through what is now Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. He returned, disappointed, to Mexico City in the spring of 1542. Although he didn't discover gold and wealth, Coronado's journey did open the Southwest to colonization and development.
What You're Going to SeeWell, not much. This Monument celebrates a path travelled 460 years ago by 350 Spaniards, some priests, over a thousand native allies, and several servants and slaves. Nothing exists to mark their passage, so this is a classic "imagination" Park. The scenery is dramatic and offers a view of the San Pedro River valley to the east (see main picture), and the San Rafael valley to the west (below right). Be sure to visit the 6,575 foot Montezuma Pass; although the road is unpaved for a short distance, it's well worth the drive.
Personal ObservationsFor me, as a fan of seeing "something" at National Parks, Coronado ranks low on the must-see list. There is generic nice scenery, the cave, a viewpoint at Montezuma Pass, the visitors center, and nothing else. We drove to Coronado from I-19 and Tumacacori; that's 40 miles of graded dirt and gravel roads. It took us nearly three hours, with a few stops along the way. The short grass prairie was impressive; I'd never seen anything like it in Arizona. It was also cool to realize how close we were to Mexico. Because there's no fence, an inadvertent right turn would send us across the border.
Getting ThereFrom Tucson, travel east on I-10 for 42 miles to Exit 302. Go south on highway 90 for 30 miles to Sierra Vista, jog east on highway 90 for 4 miles or so and then go south on highway 92 for 16 miles to the Coronado Memorial Rd.
Nearby AttractionsAbout 40 miles northwest is Tumacacori National Historic Park. 60 miles to the north is Saguaro National Park. 30 miles due north is Kartchner Caverns State Park. 60 miles to the northeast is Chiricahua National Monument, and 10 miles beyond that is Fort Bowie National Historical Site.