Exploring the Great Outdoors Around Safford, Arizona

Safford, Arizona is nestled in the heart of the Gila Valley, surrounded by stunning mountain views and wide open spaces perfect for outdoor adventure. Whether you prefer hiking, biking, bird watching or water sports, there are plenty of options to enjoy the natural beauty and sunny weather around Safford and the nearby wilderness areas.

Hiking and Backpacking In Safford, Arizona

For avid hikers, Mount Graham in the Pinaleño Mountains is a premier destination, with over 50 miles of hiking trails ranging from easy nature walks to challenging backcountry treks. Some notable hikes include the Columbine Trail with its fields of wildflowers in spring, and the steep but scenic Ash Creek Trail. The highest point is Hawk Peak at 10,720 feet, which offers incredible panoramic views across Southern Arizona. The Mount Graham Recreational Area contains six different life zones supporting diverse wildlife, trees and plants to explore.

The Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area also provides excellent hiking opportunities within a rugged canyon landscape. Trails follow the Gila River and lead through shallow pools and rock walls covered in petroglyphs left by ancient inhabitants. This riparian habitat provides a lush, rare oasis in the desert.

Mountain Biking In Safford, Arizona

For mountain biking, the 75-mile Sunnyside Loop outside of Safford offers a strenuous ride with rewarding scenery through desert, meadows and pine forest. This epic track gains over 7,000 feet in elevation as it traverses the Pinaleño and Gila mountains. Another top riding area is the Sanchez Mountain Trail System located in the Coronado National Forest, which consists of over 20 miles of fun flowing singletrack trails through pine, oak and alligator juniper landscapes.

Birdwatching In Safford, Arizona

With over 100 species identified, the Safford area is considered one of the premier birdwatching locations in the United States. Frye Mesa Reservoir attracts diverse waterfowl including great blue herons and white pelicans. Meanwhile the riparian area along the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area is a hotspot for colorful species like the hooded oriole, southwestern willow flycatcher and summer tanager. Patagonia Lake State Park and Kofa National Wildlife Refuge are also excellent for observing raptors, hummingbirds, owls and other unique birds. Prime migration seasons are spring and fall.

Fishing and Boating In Safford, Arizona

For anglers, Roper Lake State Park provides year-round fishing for trout, bass, sunfish and catfish in a serene high-desert setting. Meanwhile the Gila River through the Gila Box offers outstanding catfishing as well as opportunities to catch smallmouth bass and hardy native species like the spikedace. Patagonia Lake is stocked with trout and bass and has boat rentals available.

The Gila River is also popular for canoeing, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding through the towering 500-foot canyon cliffs that surround it. Ideal put-in spots are found within the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area.

With its diversity of terrain from the Sonoran desert to high mountain peaks, Safford provides limitless possibilities for outdoor recreation and adventure. The mild winters and beautiful spring wildflowers make it a perfect spot for enjoying the great outdoors all year round. Whether hiking, biking, birding or paddling downriver, outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to explore in Safford and the surrounding wilderness areas.

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August 15, 2023 - In Safford Local Tips

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