Since Henry Springer's trading post opened in 1879, Springerville has grown into an important trade, ranching, and lumbering center. Today it's a handy stop for travelers. Springerville and the adjacent town of Eagar lie in Round Valley beside the Little Colorado River at an elevation of 6,965 feet. Rolling grass-covered hills surround the valley.
The Madonna of the Trail, an 18-foot statue in Springerville, commemorates the hardy pioneer women of yesteryear. You can't miss the giant dome of the Round Valley Ensphere in Eagar; this multipurpose building has a total floor area of 189,000 square feet, unusually large for such a small community. It is said to be the only domed high school football field in the country.
Springerville Heritage Center
You'll be impressed at the varied art, archaeological, and history exhibits in this former school building! They include Casa Malpais Museum and the Reneé Cushman Art Collection (both described below) plus a Local Artist's Gallery and the Becker Family Room & Historical Collection. Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center here has local and state-wide travel information. Everything's at 418 Main St., 928/333-2123, www.sechamber.com and open Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; free admission (donations welcome).
Believed to have been a major trade and ceremonial center, this prehistoric ruin built between A.D. 1260 and 1440 by the Mogollon people contains some unusual features. Huge cracks—more than 100—under the site served as ceremonial and burial chambers, referred to as "catacombs" by some archaeologists. The masonry pueblo at Casa Malpais ("House of the Badlands") rose two and three stories with more than 120 rooms. A Great Kiva, square in the Mogollon style, measures 55 by 62 feet; archaeologists think it once had a roof. Other features at the site include rock art, masonry stairways, and an oval wall enclosing what may have been an astronomical observatory. The village sits on a series of terraces at the edge of a large lava flow, just north of present-day Springerville.
The tours, the only way to enter the ruins, last 1.5–2 hours on a ¾-mile loop with a 125-foot climb; bring water and a hat in summer. You may see excavations in progress during the warmer months. Because of their sacred nature, the underground chambers are closed to the public.
Before going out to the site, meet at the museum (418 E. Main St., 928/333-5375, www.casamalpais.org, Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.) in downtown Springerville; tours usually begin Tues.-Sat. at 8:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m., and 1:45 p.m., March through November, weather permitting. The museum offers good exhibits of local finds along with a fine selection of regional books. There's no charge to see the exhibits here; tours cost $10 adults, $8 seniors over 60, and $5 kids 18 and under.
Reneé Cushman Art Collection
Reneé Cushman willed her valuable collection of European art and furniture, which ranges from Renaissance to early 20th century, to the LDS Church in Springerville, and it's now housed in two rooms of the Springerville Heritage Center (418 E. Main St., 928/333-3088, Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-4 p.m., donations welcome).
The community celebrates July 4th with a parade, rodeo, barbecue, dance, and fireworks. Eagar Daze, the first weekend in August, features a talent show, games, barbecue, and a dance. A Christmas Lights Parade is held on the first Saturday in December.
Stuart Books (319 E. Main St. in Springerville, 928/333-2031) offers new and used books. Pick up fishing, hunting, and camping supplies in Springerville at Western Drug and General Store (105 E. Main St., 928/333-4321) or at Sport Shack (329 E. Main St., 928/333-2222). Over in Eagar, the Sweat Shop (42 N. Main St., 928/333-2950) sells sporting goods and rents mountain bicycles and cross-country skis.
Springerville Park offers shaded picnic tables and a playground near the White Mountain Historical Society Park; turn south three blocks on Zuni from Main. Old buildings of the historical park are open some days, ask at the chamber office. Eagar has the indoor Round Valley Swimming Pool (116 N. Eagar St., 928/333-2238, closed in winter).
Under $50: White Mountain Motel (333 E. Main St., 928/333-5482) offers simple rooms and kitchenettes. Reed's Motor Lodge (514 E. Main St., 928/333-4323 or 800/814-6451, www.k5reeds.com) provides a wide variety of rooms and suites; the hosts have an art gallery and decorate some rooms with works by regional artists; guided hike and horse tours can be arranged.
$50-100: El Jo Motor Inn (435 E. Main St., 928/333-4314) has the basics. Rode Inn (242 E. Main St., 928/333-4365 or 877/220-6553) offers deluxe lodgings including suites. In Eagar you can stay at the Best Western Sunrise Inn (128 N. Main St., 928/333-2540 or 800/528-1234) with a sauna and exercise room. Also in Eagar, Paisley Corner Bed and Breakfast (287 N. Main St., 928/333-4665) has rooms with private bath in a 1910 house.
Casa Malpais Campground (one mile northwest on US 60, 928/333-4632) has showers, laundry, and a small store; nearby Becker Lake offers trout fishing. Bear Paw RV Park (425 E. Central Ave. in Eagar, 928/333-4650) is open all year for self-contained rigs. Tent campers will do best to stay at one of the nearby Forest Service Campgrounds or Lyman Lake State Park; see Springerville Vicinity and Coronado Trail.
For American and Mexican food in Springerville, try Los Dos Molinos (900 E. Main St., 928/333-4846, daily for lunch and dinner) or Booga Red's Restaurant & Cantina (521 E. Main St., 928/333-2640, daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Safire Restaurant (411 E. Main St., 928/333-4512, daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner) fixes American and a few Mexican items. Locals also dine at Java Blues (341 E. Main St., 928/333-5282, daily) is a colorful coffee house serving everything from espresso to Italian sodas along with sandwiches, salads, quiches, and pastries. Round Valley Plaza (just south of downtown Springerville at 205-231 S. Mountain Ave.) has a Safeway supermarket and other stores. Bashas' supermarket is a bit farther out on the same business route at 150 N. Main St. in Eager.
Information and Services
Staff at the Springerville-Eagar Regional Chamber of Commerce (418 E. Main St., P.O. Box 31, Springerville, AZ 85938, 928/333-2123, 866/733-2123, www.sechamber.com/, Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily) in the Springerville Heritage Center (downtown Springerville) can tell you about the area and services.
For maps and the latest information on recreation and road conditions in the Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests, visit either of the two U.S. Forest Service offices on S. Mountain Avenue: The Springerville Ranger District Office (165 S. Mountain Ave., just north of Round Valley Plaza, P.O. Box 760, Springerville, AZ 85938, 928/333-4372, www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf, 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.) has specific information on Big Lake, Mt. Baldy, Greer, South Fork, and other areas of the district. The Supervisor's Office (30 S. Chiricahua Dr., P.O. Box 640, Springerville, AZ 85938, 928/333-4301, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.) has general information on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.
Round Valley Public Library (367 N. Main St. in Eagar Plaza, 928/333-4694, open Mon.-Sat.) is behind the Dairy Queen in Eagar. White Mountain Regional Medical Center (118 S. Mountain Ave., 928/333-4368) is in downtown Springerville.
On to Vicinity of Springerville