Tucked into a narrow valley between the Apache Mountains to the northeast and the Pinal Mountains to the south and west, Globe is a handy stopping place for travelers. The town's 3,500-foot elevation provides a pleasant climate most of the year. Though its times of glory as a big copper-mining center have long passed, Globe still has a lot of character. On a drive down Broad Street you can visit its museum, view ruins of the Old Dominion Copper Mine, and see many buildings dating from the early 1900s.
The chamber of commerce, also on Broad Street, offers a leaflet, Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Globe, that details the history of these old structures. You can also pick up a Globe-Miami Drive Yourself Highway Mine Tour leaflet describing six mines, historic and modern, visible from US 60 in the Globe and Miami areas; none of the mine sites is open to the public. Antique, craft, and gift shops abound in Globe and Miami; the chamber has a list.
In 1875, prospectors struck silver in the hills of the western part of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. The most remarkable find, a globe-shaped silver nugget, reportedly had the rough outlines of the continents scarred on its surface. Miners set up camp on the east bank of Pinal Creek, but their presence, and the government's taking back of reservation lands here, didn't go over well with the Apache, who regularly menaced the camp until Geronimo's surrender in 1886.
The silver began to give out after only four years, but by then rich copper deposits had been discovered beneath the silver lodes. The Old Dominion Copper Company moved in, and during the early 1900s its copper mine ranked as one of the greatest in the world. Globe prospered too—the town's 50 restaurants and saloons operated around the clock and about 150 sporting women worked out of little shacks along N. Broad Street. George W.P. Hunt arrived in 1881 as a young man and became a leading merchant and banker before going on to serve as Arizona's first governor. Labor troubles and declining yields began to eat into mining profits, and the Depression shut down the Old Dominion completely in 1931. Copper mining shifted to nearby Miami, leaving Globe as a quiet county seat.
Gila County Historical Museum
This varied collection (1330 N. Broad St., 928/425-7385, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat., donations welcome) illustrates the area's Native American, pioneer, ranching, and mining history. The Indian Room displays prehistoric pottery and some fine modern baskets. Period exhibits—mine superintendent's office, ranch room, printing shop, and Governor Hunt's bedroom—recall life in early Globe. The museum building, which dates from 1914, served as the company's mine rescue station for many years. It's next door to the chamber of commerce and opposite the Old Dominion Copper Co. Mine.
Cobre Valley Center for the Arts
Local artists banded together to open an art gallery (101 N. Broad St., 928/425-0884, www.cvarts.org, noon-4p.m. Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat., free) in the old Gila County Courthouse, built in 1906-07. The imposing old building stands downtown at the corner of Broad and Oak Sts.; handicap access is on Oak Street. A theater upstairs hosts performances by the Copper Cities Community Players. Go downstairs to see works of the stained-glass studio, the craft guild shop, and a scrapbooking shop. A gift shop sells colorful art and crafts.
Besh Ba Gowah
Archaeologists count 200 rooms at this pueblo, built and inhabited between A.D. 1225 and 1450, at a time when Salado villages lined both sides of Pinal Creek. An earlier village of pithouses associated with the Hohokam stood on this site about A.D. 600-1150. Exposed to the elements, Besh Ba Gowah has been weathered more than the Tonto National Monument cliff dwellings, but its extensive foundations and few remaining walls testify to its original size. The name Besh Ba Gowah comes from an Apache word meaning "metal camp."
The museum (928/425-0320, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, $3 ages 12 and up, $2 seniors) offers an introductory video, displays of pottery and other Salado artifacts, a scale model of the village as it might have looked in 1325, a small research library, and a gift shop. Follow the self-guided trail through the ruins—some restored, some only stabilized, some still unexcavated. Baskets, pots, ladders, and other implements in the restored rooms appear as if the Salado had just departed.
Besh Ba Gowah is 1.5 miles south of downtown Globe; follow S. Broad Street to the sign, turn right across the bridge, curve left on Jesse Hayes Street one mile, make a sharp right up to Globe Community Center, and follow signs around to the far side of the ruin. The adjacent park offers covered picnic tables, ball fields, and a summertime swimming pool. An ethnobotanical garden next to the ruin entrance contains crops once grown by the Salado. Globe Botanical Garden, on the hillside below, is reached by a trail from the ethnobotanical garden or from parking off Jesse Hayes Street.
Round Mountain Park
The conical hill on the northeast side of town offers hiking, views, and picnicking. Four interconnecting trails provide a way to the top (a 426-foot climb) in loops of 1.7, 2.4, or 3 miles. From downtown, head east on Ash Street, then turn left (north) 0.6 mile on South Street, just past the Comfort Inn.
A dirt road winds up the timber-clad slopes to the summit at 7,812 feet. Weather permitting, you'll enjoy great views, hiking, picnicking, and two of the coolest campgrounds in the Tonto National Forest. See "Campgrounds" below for those along the summit road and nearby.
For the 18-mile drive from Globe, follow S. Broad Street, turn right across the bridge, curve left on Jesse Hayes Street to the junction of Ice House Canyon and Six Shooter Canyon Rds., turn right 2.5 miles on Ice House Canyon Road, turn right three miles on Kellner Canyon Road/Forest Road 55 (pavement ends), and then left 12.5 miles on Forest Road 651 to the summit. An alternate approach follows Russell Road from US 60 (opposite the AZ 188 turnoff); keep right on Russell Road at a fork 0.3 mile in and continue south on what becomes Forest Road 55. Pavement ends 2.3 miles from US 60 and the road climbs up to the junction of Forest Road 651 in another 3.4 miles.
In summer, you can drive all the way to the top of Signal Peak, the highest point; at other times you walk the last bit. Ice House Canyon, Six Shooter, Telephone, Kellner Canyon, Squaw Spring, Bobtail Ridge, and Mill Creek Trails climb steeply from the valleys below. The Globe Ranger District office has trail descriptions and maps.
To Globe Practicalities
Copper mining and smelting continue on a large scale in several areas near the town of Winkelman, between Globe and Tucson on AZ 77. Mountain and desert scenery provide the biggest attractions for visitors; AZ 77 between Winkelman and Globe follows a beautiful section of the Gila River just north of Winkelman and winds through the Mescal Mountains. AZ 177 between Winkelman and Superior also crosses rugged mountains, and you can stop at an overlook of ASARCO's Ray Mine, a vast open-pit copper mine. White Canyon Wilderness is west of AZ 177 via some rough roads; contact the Bureau of Land Management's Phoenix Field Office (602/580-5500) for information on this area. Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness has a western trailhead off AZ 77 south of Winkelman. Note that even day-hikers must obtain a permit to visit here; contact the BLM office in Safford (928/348-4400).
Winkelman and Vicinity
Smelter smokestacks tower over this community and its twin, Hayden. A park beside the Gila River offers picnicking and camping amid giant cottonwood trees; turn in at the AZ 77-AZ 177 junction.
A strange landscape greets you on the approach to this town west of Globe. Many-tiered terraces of barren, buff-colored mine tailings and dark slag dumps dominate the view. Miami and Claypool stretch along Bloody Tanks Wash, named for a massacre of Apache in 1864 by a band of whites and allied Maricopa Indians. Developers arrived in 1907 to lay out a town site named after Miami, Ohio. Giant copper-ore reduction plants built by the Miami Copper and Inspiration Companies resulted in the nickname "Concentrator City." Miami (www.miamiaz.org) has had its ups and downs since, following the rise and fall in copper prices, but production continues.
The town has many historic buildings, some now restored as antique and craft shops. Follow signs for the Business District one block north to Sullivan Street. At its west end, you'll see the 1923 Greek Revival-style Bullion Plaza School, now a museum (roughly 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Fri.-Sat.) about the people of Miami.
Copper Miner's Rest (55 Chisholm Ave., 928/473-8144, www.copperminersrest.com) offers three rooms with shared bath and an apartment in a restored miners' boarding house. Rooms cost $89d and the apartment runs $109; from Sullivan Street in downtown Miami, turn one block north on Chisholm. Guayo's El Rey Cafe (716 Sullivan St., 928/473-9960, closed Wed.) is the local favorite for Mexican and American food.
Miami to Superior Drive
Highway 60 climbs over jagged mountains between these two towns. Six miles west of Miami you'll see the vast open-pit Pinto Valley copper mine. The road continues climbing to the small community of Top of the World, then descends into Devils Canyon. Oak Flat Campground (elev. 4,200 feet, open all year, no water or fee) lies in more open country nearby; turn south a half mile on Magma Mine Road at the sign near Milepost 231. West of Oak Flat, the highway drops through scenic, steep-walled Queen Creek Canyon to Superior.
Opening of the rich Silver King Mine in 1875, followed by development of the Silver Queen, brought streams of fortune hunters into this mineral-laden region. As at Globe, miners found rich deposits of copper when the surface silver began to play out. Superior lies just west of scenic Queen Creek Canyon in a valley surrounded by rugged mountains.
North of town you'll see the high smokestack of an idle smelter and extensive tailings from the Magma Copper Mine, where shafts plunge nearly 5,000 feet down. The mine was closed at press time, though exploration continues. Perlite is also mined and processed in the area.
All travelers' facilities lie along US 60, which bypasses downtown. Buckboard City has the "world's smallest museum" (520/689-5800, donation), which packs local, natural, and cultural history into a tiny building.
El Portal Motel (520/689-2886, $35 s, $40 d) has basic rooms. Superior RV Park (520/689-0115) offers a quiet spot for adults just west of town with tent sites ($8), RV sites ($17 w/hookups), coin showers, laundry, and a dump station. Casa Denogean (closed Mon.) serves Mexican and American food for lunch and dinner. Nearby on US 60 you'll find other restaurants, a rest area, and across the highway, a park with a red caboose and picnic tables.
Main Street in downtown Superior practically looks like a ghost town—paint peels from the closed shops. Bob Jones Museum, named after Arizona's sixth governor and housed in his former home, has a small historical collection at Main and Neary; you may find it open Fri.-Sun. except in summer.
You can see more than 3,200 different desert plants here in Arizona's oldest (1920s) and largest (323 acres) botanical garden (US 60, three miles west of Superior, 520/689-2811 recording, 520/689-2723 staff, http://arboretum.ag.arizona.edu, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily except Christmas, $6 adults, $3 children 5-12). Exotic species from around the world thrive alongside native Sonoran Desert plants. Short trails lead through Sonoran and Chihuahuan desert areas, a cactus garden, riparian areas, an Australian forest, and herb and rose gardens. Buy or borrow the booklet for the Main Trail, a scenic 1.5-mile loop in Queen Creek Canyon; handouts offer additional information on many of the other trails and gardens. Most of these trails branch off from the first part of the Main Trail, so you don't have to walk far to see the highlights. Much of the trail system is wheelchair-accessible. The Curandero/Sonoran Desert Trail describes traditional herbal medicines of the Sonoran Desert. (Curanderos are traditional healers in Mexican culture.) Greenhouses contain cacti and succulents that might not otherwise survive winter cold at this 2,400-foot elevation. The Smith Interpretive Center, between the display greenhouses, has exhibits on plants and local history. A Demonstration Garden offers tips and examples of water-efficient landscaping design.
More than 200 bird and 72 terrestrial species have been seen in the area. Ayer Lake and Queen Creek on the Main Trail are good places to watch for them; you may see endangered Gila topminnow and desert pupfish in the lake. Nearby Picket Post Mountain (4,400 ft.) soars above the gardens. A heliograph station, equipped with mirrors to flash the rays of the sun, operated atop the peak during the Apache wars. No developed trails go to the summit and there's no access from the arboretum.
The visitor center offers some exhibits and a gift shop with snacks, books, prints, posters, and seed packets. You can also purchase cactus, other succulents, trees, shrubs, ground cover, and herbs. The cooling-tower exhibit at the visitor center creates a cool microclimate; its 30-foot tower functions as a giant evaporative cooler.
Scheduled events include an Arid Land Plant Show on the first weekend in April and a Fall Landscaping Festival. A picnic area near the parking lot is available to visitors. Today the University of Arizona, the State Parks Board, and the nonprofit Arboretum Corporation manage the arboretum.
Turn south 16 miles on AZ 79 at this junction for the town of Florence, home to McFarland State Historic Park and the Pinal County Historical Museum, or continue on US 60 for Apache Junction and the Valley of the Sun.
One of the most popular trailheads for the Superstition Wilderness lies off US 60 about nine miles northwest of Florence Junction, or eight miles southeast of Apache Junction. Follow graded-dirt Forest Road 77 in for seven miles, $4/day parking or free with a golden passport or National Parks Pass w/hologram.
Three very scenic trails branch off into the wilderness here, including Peralta Trail #102, which goes up Peralta Canyon to Fremont Saddle, where you get a great view of Weaver's Needle. It's four miles roundtrip and a 1,400-foot climb to the pass; carry water and avoid the heat of a summer day. Peralta Trail continues down the other side past the base of Weaver's Needle, connecting with other trails in the Superstitions.
On to Florence and Vicinity (Phoenix to Tucson)