The Old-Time Fiddlers Contest livens up February. Horse racing takes off at the county fairgrounds on the last weekend of March and the first weekend of April. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on the weekend nearest May 5th with a parade and entertainment. Pioneer Day rolls out with a parade, barbecue, and entertainment on the weekend nearest July 24th; the event rotates between Safford, Thatcher, and Pima.
Cowpunchers describe their feelings in the Cowboy Poet Roundup in September. The Graham County Fair features entertainment, local agricultural accomplishments, and crafts in October. You can shop at the Cowboy Christmas Arts and Crafts Festival on the weekend after Thanksgiving.
You'll find an outdoor public swimming pool (1111 Thatcher Blvd., 928/348-1394, Memorial Day to Labor Day) in Firth Park behind the chamber of commerce. Tennis players can use the lighted courts at Graham County Park (2 miles south on US 191) and at the junior high school (520 11th St.). Graham County Park also offers racquetball, basketball, ball fields, a jogging track, and picnicking; all but the track are lit for night use. Play golf year-round at the 18-hole Mount Graham Golf Course (4 miles southwest of town, 928/348-3140); turn south on 20th Avenue and follow signs. Swings & Things Sports Park (520 E. Hwy. 70, 928/348-8333) features a 36-hole miniature golf course and a driving range.
Feeling run-down with too many aches and pains? Then take the waters at Essence of Tranquility (5 miles south of Safford at 6074 S. Lebanon Loop Rd., 928/428-9312); turn west off US 191 on Lebanon or Cactus Roads. Massage and other treatments can be arranged, and visitors may stay in a teepee or their own tent.
Safford's motels line US 70, also signed on the west side of town as Thatcher Boulevard and on the east side as Fifth Street. Each motel includes air-conditioning and most also have swimming pools—you may want both in summer, when highs push 100°F!
Bed & Breakfast: For an experience of the Old West, check into the 1890 Cottage Bed & Breakfast (1104 Central Ave., 928/428-5118, www.cottagebedandbreakfast.com/, $90 d cottage, $110 guest house; call for rooms in the main house). The wealthy cattleman who built the house kept an eye on the town from the balcony, and you can too.
Under $50: Check out Tour Rest Motel (110 Fifth St., 928/428-3881, $28 s, $32 d), Budget Inn (1215 Thatcher Blvd., 928/428-7850, $30 s, $32 d) with a pool, and Econo Lodge (225 E. Hwy. 70, 928/348-0011 or 800/553-2666, $42 s, $46 d) with a pool and hot tub.
$50-100: Best Western Desert Inn (1391 Thatcher Blvd., 928/428-0521 or 800/528-1234, $59 s, $65-70 d, $80 d mini suite) offers a pool and restaurant. Comfort Inn (1578 Thatcher Blvd., 928/428-5851 or 800/424-6423, $62 s, $69 d) also has a pool and restaurant. Day's Inn (520 E. Hwy. 70, 928/428-5000 or 800/329-7466, $55 s, $75 d) includes a breakfast buffet, pool, and hot tub.
$100-150: Quality Inn & Suites (420 E. Hwy. 70, 928/428-3200 or 800/272-6232, www.visitsafford.com, $90 s, $120 d, add $15 for rooms with hot tubs, $130-165 d suites) features an indoor pool, indoor hydrotherapy pool, outdoor hot tub, saunas, batting cages, driving range, and a 36-hole miniature golf course; some rooms have balconies and views of the Gila Mountains.
Teepees and Campgrounds
Essence of Tranquility (928/428-9312 or 877/895-6810) features hot spring mineral baths, teepee rentals ($20-80 depending on size), and tent camping ($10/person) including use of baths, recreation room, kitchen, and showers. Health treatments can be arranged too. From Safford, head south about five miles on US 191, turn right (west) on Lebanon Road, then left (south) where the road curves to 6074 S. Lebanon Loop Road.
RVers can stay at Sunrise Village Mobile Home Park (900 E. Hollywood Rd., 928/428-1895, $20 w/hookups, pool, and hot tub), Tower Mobile Park (1.5 miles east at 2056 E. US 70, 928/428-6997, $18 w/hookups), and the adult Lexington Pines RV Resort (1535 Thatcher Blvd., 928/428-7570, $19 w/hookups, exercise room, and a hot tub).
The Branding Iron (2.5 miles north of downtown, 928/428-7427, Mon.-Sat. for dinner, $10-20) serves up steak, seafood, chicken, and sandwiches with a great view of the valley; reservations are a good idea on weekends; go north on Eighth Avenue, left on Safford-Bryce Road at the fork, then turn right up Branding Iron Lane. Brick's Steakhouse (4367 S. Hwy. 191, 928/348-8111, Mon.-Sat. for lunch and dinner, $5-17) has a family atmosphere; the steaks, Southwest chicken, and seafood dishes are big hits; breakfast may be served on weekends. Manor House Restaurant (415 E. Hwy 70, across from the Quality Inn, 928/428-7148, daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, $7-17) has a Western decor for both American and Mexican food, including New York steaks, prime rib, ribs, seafood and a salad bar; chefs offer buffets on weekends for breakfast and Mon.-Sat. for lunch; the owners aim to please and include an adjacent saloon, banquet rooms, and a florist.
Dine Mexican at Casa Maņana (corner of US 70 and First Ave., 928/428-3170, Mon.-Sat. for lunch and dinner, $2-9.50); the chili relleno with onion sauce is a specialty. Favorites at El Charro (601 Main St., 928/428-4134, Mon.-Sat. for lunch and dinner, $2-11) include the fajitas, chimis, and Mexican pizza. Nearby Chalo's La Casa Reynoso (611 Sixth Ave., 928/348-9889, daily for lunch and dinner, $2-15) serves up steaks, fajitas, chimis, Navajo tacos, enchiladas, and combos; there's a sunroom in back.
Jumbo Chinese Restaurant (817 Thatcher Blvd., 928/428-2888, Mon.-Sat. for lunch and dinner, $5.50-11) offers Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine; there's a lunch buffet. Super Wok (1275 Thatcher Blvd., 928/348-9452, daily for lunch and dinner, $5.50-12.50) serves their Chinese food "Safford Style" and prepares an all-day buffet. China Taste (1385 Thatcher Blvd., 928/348-3336, daily for lunch and dinner, $6-13) features "New York Style" Chinese food in a large all-day buffet and on the menu.
You'll find a Wal-Mart, Safeway, other shopping, chain restaurants, and fast-food places west of downtown on US 70.
The very helpful Graham County Chamber of Commerce (1111 Thatcher Blvd., Safford, AZ 85546, 928/428-2511 or 888/837-1841, http://visitgrahamcounty.com, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.) is on US 70 just west of downtown. An exhibit room has a detailed diorama of 11,000 years ago when man first arrived in the Southwest, a diorama of a pueblo village about A.D. 1400, photos and telescope models of Mt. Graham International Observatory, and displays on local cotton, mining and minerals, recreation, and prehistoric Native American finds. A rest area with picnic tables lies just outside and there's a public swimming pool out back.
The Coronado National Forest's Safford Ranger Station (711 14th Ave., Suite D, Safford, AZ 85546, 928/428-4150, www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.) has travel and recreation information on Mt. Graham Scenic Drive in the Pinaleno Mountains, the Galiuro Wilderness, and the lesser-known wildernesses of Santa Teresa and Winchester.
The Bureau of Land Management office (711 14th Ave., Safford, AZ 85546, 928/348-4400, www.blm.gov/az/st/en.html, 7:45 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Mon.-Fri.) provides information on many backcountry areas around Safford, including Aravaipa Canyon (for which you'll need a permit). Rockhounds can pick up brochures about the Black Hills (between Safford and Clifton) and Round Mountain (south of Duncan) areas, a source of fire agates.
The public library (808 Seventh Ave., 928/428-1531, closed Sun.) has an Arizona collection and a gift shop. The Alumni Library (northwest corner of Church St. and College Ave. in Thatcher, 928/428-8304) at Eastern Arizona College includes a media center.
The post office (504 S. Fifth Ave., 928/428-0220) is downtown just south of US 70. Mount Graham Regional Medical Center (1600 S. 20th Ave., 928/348-4000, www.mtgraham.org) lies southwest of downtown. Gila Outdoor (3660 W. Main St. in Thatcher, 928/348-0710, http://gilavalleyoutdoor.com) offers topo maps, books, supplies, and clothing.
Getting There and Around
Greyhound (1910 Thatcher Blvd., 928/428-2150) buses stop a couple of times a day in each direction on their cross-country routes. Check with the chamber office for outdoor adventure tour operators.
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