DescriptionThe first American colony in the Gila Valley, Safford was founded in 1874 by farmers whose previous holdings had been washed away by the Gila River. From Safford the Swift Trail winds 36 miles to the top of 10,720-foot Mount Graham. En route the trail traverses five of the seven ecological zones in Western North America. Camping, hiking and picnicking are permitted. Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area, 15 miles northeast, offers seasonal river floating opportunities.
The region south of Safford is known for its hot mineral water baths. Information about area spas is available from the chamber of commerce. One popular spot is Hot Well Dunes, which has two artesian mineral wells now turned into hot tubs. The area also is popular with off-road enthusiasts.
For seekers of fire agates and other semiprecious stones, there are two rockhound areas administered and maintained by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Black Hills Back Country Byway is a 21-mile scenic drive through the Black Hills. The drive is a graded dirt road with sharp turns and steep drops.
Round Mountain Rockhound Area, featuring chalcedony roses and fire agates, is 12 miles south of Duncan on US 70, west at Milepost 5.6, 7.1 miles to the BLM sign, then 2.5 miles south to the first collection area. A second collection area is 4.5 miles south using the left fork in the road. Note: The road is not maintained and is very rough. Because of the area's remote location, visitors should bring along plenty of water and gasoline. Phone ahead for road conditions. Information about these areas can be obtained by contacting the Bureau of Land Management, 711 14th Ave., Safford, AZ 85546; phone (928) 348-4400.
InfoOfficeGraham County Chamber of Commerce 1111 Thatcher Blvd. Safford, AZ 85546. Phone:(928)428-2511 or (888)837-1841
Attraction PlaceHoldersEastern Arizona College Discovery Park Campus