FEW PEOPLE LIVE IN RODEO, a small town between Arizona’s Chiricahua and New Mexico’s Peloncillo mountains. But it’s rattlesnake paradise. “There are probably more rattlesnakes, more species, per square mile than anywhere else in the United States,” says Bob Ashley, director of the Chiricahua Desert Museum, which serves Rodeo, New Mexico, and Portal, Arizona. Given the reptile’s prevalence, Ashley figured the museum needed a monument, and thus was born the world’s largest rattlesnake tail. Affectionately named for its designer, renowned wildlife artist Tell Hicks, the Tell’s Tail sculpture of a western diamondback stands 18 feet tall. (The museum has live exhibits of the region’s deadliest rattlers and a gift shop aimed at fans.) “If there was a 100-foot rattlesnake,” Ashley says, “that would be the size of its tail.” Hicks came up with the design, and New Mexico’s first state herpetologist and a blacksmith, the late Charlie Painter, crafted it. Want a pic? The best times are after 1 p.m., when the sun faces the sculpture, or sunrise/sunset for a dynamic shot.
Chiricahua Desert Museum is at 4 Rattlesnake Canyon Road, in Rodeo (48 miles southwest of Lordsburg).