Coronado National Memorial, AZ

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado's expedition, inspired by rumours of gold and riches, was an utter failure. "Early in the 16th century, Spain established a rich colonial empire in the New World. From Mexico to Peru, gold poured into her treasury and new lands were opened for settlement. The northern frontier lay only a few hundred miles north of Mexico City; and beyond that was a land unknown."

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After other failed expeditions, Coronado began his expedition in 1540 in search of the "Seven Cities of Cibola". Instead of golden cities they found rock-masonry pueblos (settlements) and Hopi Indians.

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Coronado et al met "The Turk", a Plains Indian who told them of rich land to the east, but they had to wait out winter in the area and the Indians's friendliness wore thin as the Spanish explorers offended and violated rules of hospitality. When the Spaniards didn't get their way they killed or forced inhabitants to abandon their pueblos. Regardless, The Turk led Coronado and his team. After many days of travel through barren land, the expedition arrived at the supposed "rich land" and came upon grass huts and nothing more.

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The Turk confessed the story of Quivira was just a plot conceived by the Pueblo Indians to lure the Spaniards out onto the plains in hopes they would become lost and die of starvation. The gullible soldiers executed The Turk.

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"Coronado, his dreams of fame and fortune shattered, finally reached Mexico City in the spring of 1542. Although publicly scorned and discredited, he again resumed his position of governor of New Galicia. He and his captains were subsequently called in to account for their actions during the quest, and it was four more years before Coronado succeeded in clearing his family's name. Ten years after his return, at the age of 42, he died in relative obscurity."

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The park preserves 4,750 acres of natural land by the Huachuca Mountains in southeast Arizona, about 26 miles from Bisbee.

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A narrow, winding drive ascends to Montezuma Pass Overlook at 6,575 ft elevation.

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A short, but steep hike climbs almost 300 more feet to Coronado Peak for a 360 degree view of the U.S.-Mexican border, San Pedro River Valley and San Rafael Valley.

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The whipping winds are worth it!

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