During your next Arizona visit, be sure to stop by Safford. A city at the center of several natural attractions, Safford is a haven for outdoor exploration and activities. From hot springs to sand dunes to rock fields, Safford brings together many features that make Arizona famous in one place, creating the perfect family vacation destination. If you’re planning to visit this destination, use this article as your handy guide. Keep reading to learn about the best things to do in Safford, Arizona.
1. World Famous Salsa Trail
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
Salsa challenge competition just began. Salsa Trail restaurants each made salsa with three secret ingredients:...Posted by Graham County Chamber of Commerce on Saturday, September 30, 2017
The World Famous Salsa Trail is a salsa-tasting tour covering over 700 mi (1127 km) of the south-western United States. It includes six distinct salsa regions where Mexican restaurants offer a variety of delicious salsas with quirky twists and blends of flavors. If you want to be a part of the Salsa Trail, enter any of the participating restaurants and pick up a ‘salsa passport’, and notify the host of your participation. You’ll earn a stamp for dining at each restaurant, followed by a collection of prizes for each stamp tier. You will also get a complimentary selection of the restaurant’s chips and salsa, subsequently dining on the restaurant’s signature dish. Some restaurants also offer shopping and accommodations. Safford is the headquarters of this popular trail.
Address: 1051 W Thatcher Boulevard Safford, AZ 85546
Website: Salsa Trail
Opening hours: Mon -Thu: 9am - 5pm (closed from Fri - Sun)
2. Mount Graham International Observatory
The Mount Graham International Observatory (MGIO) is an astrophysical research site run by the University of Arizona. You can enjoy public tours conducted by Eastern Arizona College. The tour features a walk up to scenic Mount Graham, focusing on the mountain’s rich geology, history and diversity of life. It also includes lunch near the mountain summit and a guided tour of the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, the Submillimeter (Radio) Telescope, and the Large Binocular Telescope, the world’s most powerful telescope. Public tours on advance registration begin at Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park Campus and include packed lunch. Children must be at least 8 years old for the tour.
Mount Graham International Observatory
Address: 1480 W. Swift Trail, Safford, AZ 85546
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 9am - 5pm; Mon: 9am - 4:30pm
Price: 40 USD
3. Safford Bowl
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
Safford Bowl is a popular hangout place in Safford, Arizona with a bowling alley. This place is a fun place for family and friends to relax, drink a few beers, eat, and enjoy bowling. Along with varied drinks, the menu has innovative sandwiches, burgers, hot wings, nachos, and French fries. Enjoy watching games on the TV along with food and drinks. The place offers happy hour specials and it is also available for events such as birthdays and anniversaries.
Address: 410 E 4th St, Safford, AZ 85546
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 11am - 8pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 9pm; Sun: 12pm - 4pm
Price: 2 - 100 USD
4. Old Safford Bridge
Set across the Gila River, the Old Safford Bridge is a popular picnic spot. It is located in Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area near Black Hills Back Country Byway. Built in 1918, the bridge was built of concrete owing to restrictions on the use of steel during World War I. You can enjoy views of this historic bridge from a cliff, accessible from Owl Creek Campground. The south end of the bridge is a popular launch site for boating and enthusiasts. It is also a good spot to fish for catfish. The north end of the bridge has a small picnic area.
Old Safford Bridge
Address: Safford Field Office, 711 14th Avenue, Safford, AZ 85546
Website: Old Safford Bridge
Opening Hours: 24 hours (daily)
5. Monastery of Saint Paisius
The Holy Monastery of Saint Paisius is situated in the high Sonoran Desert, at the base of Mount Graham. This is an Eastern Orthodox Christian women’s coenobitic community in Safford, Arizona, which follows the traditional rules of Serbian monastic life. It was founded in 1993 and is the fifth largest monastery dedicated to Saint Paisius. The sisterhood, which was started in 1995, has about 20 members currently. The church offers a variety of prayer ropes handcrafted by the sisters to support themselves. There is a gift shop that offers spiritual books, liturgical items, music and recordings, and handmade products. You can also explore the monastery to learn about sisters’ various cultivations and the flock of purebred milk goats and other animals that they tend to in order to be self-sufficient.
Monastery of Saint Paisius
Address: 10250 S. Sky Blue Rd, Safford, AZ 85546
Website: Monastery of Saint Paisius
6. Dry Lake Park
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
When visiting Safford, check out the Safford Dry Lake Park for an array of outdoor activities not found in a gym. At the park, you can not only hike and camp but test your marksmanship on the archery range. A small pistol range is also on site for the modern marksman, as well as a trap and skeet shooting range. For a friendly—or not so friendly—competition between friends, Safford Dry Lake Park has an excellent paintball range with tires, drums, and other objects to dive behind. When you’re done shooting things and assassinating your friends, head to the park’s landing strip where you can fly and land radio-controlled airplanes.
Dry Lake Park
Address: Dry Lake Rd, Safford, AZ 85546
Website: Safford Dry Lake Park
7. Discovery Park
Open to the public Monday through Saturday, the EAC Discovery Park Campus brings space exploration to the public with the Gov Aker Observatory. In the Observatory you’ll find multiple galleries with artifacts from early Gila Valley history, including a heliograph that was used in the late 1800s by the army to send Morse code signals using the sun. Other exhibits teach visitors about the composition of light from many colors, the sun and sounds from space, and the history of astronomy.
Daytime visitors can see an image created by one of the largest camera obscures in the world, and look at the sun through the telescope’s special lenses. Discovery Park is also home to the Space Shuttle Polaris, a virtual tour traversing the cosmos. The shuttle features visual, motion, and sound stimulation, launching visitors past Mt. Graham and into our solar system, making the attraction an educational—and fun—experience.
Before you leave the Discovery Park Campus, be sure to explore the trails in the habitat area. The trails are perfect for jogging and hiking, and are also great locations to spot some of Arizona’s wildlife, including roadrunners, rabbits, snakes, Gila monsters, coyotes, squirrels, and the occasional bobcat.
Address: Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park Campus, 1651 W. Discovery Park Blvd. Safford, AZ 85546
Website: Discovery Park
8. Roper Lake State Park
If you’re looking for a place to cool off, head to Roper Lake State Park, located less than 6 miles (10 km) out of Safford. At the park, you can hike nature trails, swim, fish, and boat in the lake, and completely immerse yourself in nature by camping. With special events planned regularly, Roper Lake is the perfect place for a family afternoon or weekend getaway.
Roper Lake State Park
Address: 101 East Roper Lake Road, Safford, AZ 85546
Website: Roper Lake State Park
9. AZ Air Ventures
During your Safford visit, be sure to check out AZ Air Ventures for an experience above all others. At AZ Air Ventures, you will soar peacefully above Arizona in the basket of a hot air balloon, giving you a truly amazing view of the land and Arizona life. AZ Air Ventures stands out from similar balloon services by informing each visitor about the entire process of getting the balloon into the air and back to earth safely. At the end of your journey, you’ll be met with snacks and drinks that you can enjoy while re-living the adventure through photos and videos of the tour.
AZ Air Ventures
Address: 264 E. 24th Place, Safford, AZ 85546
Website: AZ Air Ventures
10. Kachina Mineral Springs
Surrounding the Safford area is a series of hot springs, perfect for relaxation during your vacation. At the Kachina Mineral Springs, you can experience the springs in a tranquil setting. Not only can you soak in the natural mineral water, but you can also treat yourself to massages, reflex therapy sessions, and sweat wraps. Upon your visit, Kachina’s talented therapists will massage the stress away, making you want to re-live your Safford visit in years to come.
Kachina Mineral Springs
Address: Kachina Mineral Springs, 1155 W Cactus RD, Safford, AZ 85546-9442
Website: Kachina Mineral Springs
11. Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area
At the center of four waterways lies the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area. Spanning over 23,000 acres (9,307 hectares), Gila Box combines beach fronts, pouring streams, cliff faces, and woodlands to make a perfect oasis in the desert. Besides wildlife watching, you can enjoy boating or drifting down the river, fishing, camping, and hiking in the diverse setting.
Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area
Address: 711 S 14th Ave, Safford, AZ 85546
12. Essence of Tranquility
If you’re looking for a place to just sit back and soak, head to Essence of Tranquility, a sauna equipped with multiple hot tubs perfect for washing your troubles away. Supplied by natural springs, and massage therapy available, the facility’s pools are perfect for an afternoon dedicated to relaxation. And don’t worry if one day at the springs isn’t enough: Essence of Tranquility also offers camping and overnight amenities to keep the perfect vacation going.
Essence of Tranquility
Address: 6074 S Lebanon Loop Rd, Safford, Arizona
Facebook: Essence of Tranquility
13. Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area
At the Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area, you can combine relaxing in a hot spring with off-roading adventure. The recreation area, once a beach surrounding a lake around two million years ago, is now the home to sand dunes perfect for off-roading vehicles. Built into Hot Well Dunes are two hot tubs, continuously supplied by natural hot springs. And when you’re done roaming the hills and soaking in the springs, pitch a tent at one of ten campgrounds onsite.
Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area
Address: Hot Well Dunes, Safford, AZ 85546
Website: Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area
14. Black Hills Rockhound Area
Before you leave Arizona, head to the Black Hills Rockhound Area for the perfect—and free—souvenir. At the Black Hills Rockhound Area, you can find fire-agates, a semi-precious gem only found in Mexico, California, New Mexico and Arizona, readily available. Other minerals are to be found when you dig up the desert soil, giving you an array of gems to keep or give away when you return home.
Black Hills Rockhound Area
Address: Safford Field Office, 711 14th Ave, Safford, AZ 85546
Website: Black Hills Rockhound Area
15. Frye Mesa Reservoir
Finally, for a rare fishing experience you are unlikely to experience anywhere else in Arizona, head to Frye Mesa Reservoir. At the reservoir, the cool location allows rangers to continuously stock the lake and streams with rainbow trout. But that’s not what makes it special. The site allows for targeting the Gila trout, an endangered fish that many a fisherman dreams of, and is unlikely to keep at other locations. Rainbow trout also call the reservoir home, but if you don’t fancy fishing, never fret. A beautiful waterfall and scenic hiking trails are waiting to be explored.
Frye Mesa Reservoir
Address: Frye Mesa Reservoir, Arizona, 85543
Website: Frye Mesa Reservoir
Equipped with everything from sand dunes to fishing holes to hot air balloon rides to saunas, Safford is the perfect place to go and relax or amp-up the fun during your Arizona vacation. This gem of nature (and literal gems you can find) is the perfect destination for family fun and lone-traveler relaxation.
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