Things to Do in Safford AZ
Black Hills Back Country Byway
This rugged 21-mile stretch of unpaved roadway is located between Safford and Clifton, with easy access via U.S. 191. The Black Hills Back Country Byway, which represents the northern end of the Peloncillo Mountains, is an historic and cultural route with great opportunities for everyone to enjoy. Hiking, mountain biking, fishing, camping, rock collecting and picnicking are just some of the activities found along this byway. Interpretive brochures are available from the Graham County Chamber of Commerce.
Coronado Trail Scenic Byway
Stretching over 123 miles of unique vistas, featuring high desert and forest areas, the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway is steeped in historical significance. It is said that portions of the trail were traveled by Francisco de Coronado around 1540. Stop at such significant sites as: the Arrow Tree, Gray’s Peak picnic area, and Blue Vista, or take advantage of the abundance of recreational opportunities offered.
One interesting fact about the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway: it was originally known as U.S. 666, aptly nicknamed “The Devil’s Highway.” It was only a short time ago that the byway was renamed U.S. 191.
Graham County Historic Walking & Driving Tour
Grab a free brochure as a guide from the Chamber of Commerce and enjoy the unique historic sites of Graham County. The walking tour of Downtown Safford highlights 26 historic structures, including the Graham County Courthouse (c. 1916) and Safford City Hall (c. 1898), while the driving portion features a number of historic sites throughout Pima, Safford, Solomon and Thatcher. The majority of these buildings date back to the 20th century, with many still in use today.
The Old West Highway
Uncover over 600 years of Western history while traveling along the Old West Highway. This route was home to dangerous gunfighters, Apache warriors and unrecoverable gold, with popular features such as lost civilizations and the site of Billy the Kid’s first murder.
Mt. Graham (Pinaleno Mountains)
Mt. Graham is the highest peak in the Pinaleno Mountain range, rising to more than 10,000 feet in elevation. The backdrop is amazing and offers visitors a variety of outdoor recreational options including rock climbing, hiking, cross-country skiing, camping, fishing and much more. Guests have the chance to take a motor tour along Swift Trail (Highway 366) that begins at the base of the mountain, traveling approximately 35 miles up and ending at the top of Mt. Graham. More information can be obtained via the Safford Forest Ranger District.
Salt River Canyon
Known to many as the mini Grand Canyon, the Salt River Canyon is a 2,000-foot-deep river canyon bursting with history and winsome vistas. U.S. 60 winds through the canyon, which spans approximately nine miles from rim to rim. Visitors can view interpretive displays at the parking and rest area, while outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of such activities as camping, fishing, hiking and white-water rafting.
Follow the Salsa Trail to about a dozen Mexican establishments presenting the finest cuisine in the Southwest. Take a trip through the communities of Pima, Thatcher, Safford, Solomon, Duncan, Clifton, Morenci, York, and Willcox and sample the best Mexican dishes around, from mild to hot – perfect for any palate!
The traditional fares discovered at these restaurants and businesses are authentic family recipes made from scratch, with only the freshest ingredients. Pick up your Salsa Trail Passport at any Salsa Trail site or the Chamber of Commerce and rouse those taste buds while visiting each location. Earn prizes by gaining stamps on your passport from each experience.
The last weekend in September is reserved for the annual SalsaFest, located downtown, in Safford’s Town Square. It was created by the Graham County Chamber of Commerce and hosted by the Safford Lions Club. SalsaFest offers two days full of family entertainment, centered around what else: salsa! Take part in the salsa making competition and the jalapeno and salsa eating contest; browse through local crafts and the fresh marketplace; or sit back and enjoy live entertainment and food demonstrations. This is definitely an event not to be missed!
Learn more about Arizona’s famous Salsa Trail by visiting www.salsatrail.com, or grab an informational packet at the Graham County Chamber of Commerce:
1111 Thatcher Boulevard • Safford, AZ 85546
(888) 837-1841 • www.visitgrahamcounty.com
Dankworth Village, an outdoor classroom is located near Dankworth Pond. This village features a field exhibit of replicated archaeological sites, dwellings and activity areas depicting life of the Southwest’s early inhabitants (from 9000 BC to the 1600s). An Activity Guide for use at the site is available at the BLM office.
Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park Campus
EAC’s Discovery Park Campus is a multi-purpose educational facility placing emphasis on the science and culture of the Gila Valley. This center offers an assortment of activities and hands-on exhibits simultaneously promoting fun and education. The majority of Discovery Park’s attractions can be found at the Gov. Aker Observatory, which is lined with a series of galleries. Additional features include Nature’s Hideaway, equipped with a number of trails for hiking, jogging and more, and the Circle D Ranch, a perfect place for a variety of gatherings and events. Discovery Park is the gateway to the Mount Graham International Observatory (MGIO), which includes the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT). Contact them for your reservation: (928) 428-6260
Eastern Arizona Museum & Historical Society
Situated in Pima, the Eastern Arizona Museum and Historical Society is continuing to expand its facility, which houses a wide range of displays, photographs and archives portraying life from the pioneer days to the present. In development on the grounds of the museum is an automotive and agricultural museum.
San Carlos Apache Cultural Center
Standing as the first of its kind on the San Carlos Reservation, the San Carlos Apache Cultural Center is dedicated to telling the story of the Apaches from the tribe’s point of view. Learn about the Apaches’ cultural history through informational displays of the tribe’s past and present, and browse through the beautiful works of art from Apache artists and craftspeople.
Outdoor Things to Do in Safford AZ
Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy active sports like hiking and off-roading to peaceful activities like bird watching or soaking in a hot spring. Opportunities for recreation span the entire Gila Valley region, offering ample activities for all ages, skill levels and interests. Over 3.5 million acres of public lands await your enjoyment.
Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Area
Accessible just 45 miles southwest of Safford, the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Area is perfect for the outdoor lover. The canyon is comprised of rugged terrain that challenges hikers of all levels. Aravaipa Creek is stocked with a number of native fish species, predominantly minnow and sucker fish. Wildlife is abundant here, with many visiting for the outstanding bird watching opportunities. The area has seen more than 200 different bird species. Camping is permitted throughout the wilderness area.
Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area
Composed of 2,000 acres of rolling sand dunes, the Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area is a haven for off-highway-vehicle (OHV) lovers. The area is designated “open” to vehicles including sand rails, ATVs, motorbikes and four-wheel-drive trucks. In addition, the area is also equipped with natural hot spring tubs, perfect for those seeking some rest and relaxation.
Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area
Stretching 23,000 acres between Safford and Clifton and managed by the BLM, the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area is the site of 23 miles of the Gila River and 14 miles of Bonita Creek – plus small portions of the San Francisco River and Eagle Creek. Two campgrounds, a number of picnic areas and a wildlife viewing area, as well as sites for rafting, hiking, bird watching and more, can be found here.
Graham County Regional Park
A popular spot for both active and passive recreation, Graham County Regional Park is not just the site of the Graham County Fair. It houses soccer fields, softball and baseball diamonds, basketball courts, picnic areas, walking and jogging paths, fishing holes and a number of facilities ideal for a variety of gatherings, plus RV hook-ups.
Mt. Graham Golf Course
With Mt. Graham overhead, golfers enjoy a day on the greens at Mt. Graham Golf Course in Safford. Open year-round, the traditional 18-hole course spans 6,354 yards at the longest tee for a par 72. Patrons can also access a driving range, short game practice areas, a pro shop, restaurant and lounge.
Roper Lake State Park
Located just outside of Safford, Roper Lake State Park is made up of two developed areas – the main Roper Lake area, featuring 240 acres of land and 30 acres of water; and the Dankworth Unit, comprised of 150 acres of land and 15 acres of water. The area offers plenty of opportunities for camping, hiking, picnicking, fishing, swimming and boating. The park is also equipped with natural hot springs.