A Guide to the Wonders of SE Arizona and SW New Mexico

-or- Things to Do Within 100 Miles of Duncan

 

List - Scenic Drives

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1

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (NM)



Near Silver City, NM. Spectacular Mgollon culture cliff dwellings from 1200s AD above the Gila River.
[ See their website ]   

2

Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness (AZ)



Its 19,410 acres southwest of Safford, includes 11-mile-long Aravaipa Canyon, surrounding tablelands and side canyons. The area supports native desert fish, desert bighorn sheep, and over 200 species of birds.
[ See their website ]   

3

Black Hills Back Country Byway (AZ)



Rich with wildlife and historical sites, and fascinating geology. Unpaved road; do not attempt this after rains or with a trailer longer than 20 feet.
[ See their website ]   

4

Blue River Complex (AZ-NM)



Of the total 400,000-acre Blue River watershed, 99% is managed by the U.S. Forest Service for the public. Half of the watershed is a designated Primitive Area.
[ See their website ]   

5

Catwalk National Recreation Trail (NM)



Set deep in southwestern New Mexico`s rugged Mogollon Mountains, this meander takes you along the Whitewater Creek Canyon and across an historic metal catwalk. Much of the trail is wheelchair-accessible.
[ See their website ]   

6

Cave Creek Canyon



Nestled into the eastern slopes of the Chiricahuas, with spectacular soaring cliffs and other scenery, world class birdwatching, a riparian area teeming with unique wildlife, and a number of forest recreation amenities.
[ See their website ]   

7

Chihuahuan Wildlife Heart Bar Riparian Area (NM)



The Heart Bar Ranch, acquired by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish more than four decades ago, includes access to two riparian areas along the West Fork of the Gila River. One area is Little Creek Pond, with rushes, willow thickets, and cattails, flanked by tall cottonwoods on the west and rocky hills overlooking the river to the east. Another 1.5 miles down the road, an unmarked dirt track leads to a riverside cottonwood grove. Wildlife animal activity includes black-headed grosbeak, yellow-breasted chat, mallard, common merganser, even the common black hawk.
[ See their website ]   

8

Chiricahua National Monument (AZ)



Seventeen miles of maintained trail in a monument that is 90% wilderness, tours of a homestead.
[ See their website ]   

9

Chiricahua Wilderness (AZ)



10,290 acres containing an extinct volcano with exotic black lava formations and are considered a mecca for bird watchers.
[ See their website ]   

10

Coronado Trail Scenic Byway (AZ)



Climbs from semi-desert into a sub-alpine zone, past the Blue Range Mountains, and over the White Mountains, passing through the historic Morenci mining district. In the fall, the colors are spectacular.
[ See their website ]   

11

Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway (NM)



From the desert to ponderosa cliffs, traverses the Gila National Forest and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness.
[ See their website ]   

12

Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area (AZ)



Hot springs, river rafting, birdwatching, and miles of trails make this accessible National Conservation Area popular but rarely crowded. Bonita Creek wildlife viewing area is accessible and has numerous interpretive displays and shade shelters.
[ See their website ]   

13

Gila Lower Box Canyon Wilderness Study Area (NM)



Managed as a biological Area of Critical Environment Concern by the Bureau of Land Management. Remote and lovely.
[ See their website ]   

14

Gila National Forest and Gila Wilderness (NM)



The nations first designated Wilderness Area, championed by the famed naturalist Aldo Leopold. Spectacular Indian cliff dwellings and a couple of ghost towns are tucked in amidst 3.3 million acres of unspoiled cactus deserts, forested foothills, and aspen-covered peaks.
[ See their website ]   

15

Guadalupe Canyon (NM)



A remote but easily accessed wildlife preserve in the southern Peloncillo Mountains, said to be a bird watchers dream.
[ See their website ]   

16

Morenci Open-pit Copper Mine (AZ)



The largest mine and copper producer in North America, now owned by Freeport-MacMoRan, offers a three-hour tour. Or you can just drive to the overlook on Highway 191. Watch out for Bighorn Sheep on the highway. And don't miss the old miners' cemetery on a hillside to your right as you climb.
[ See their website ]   

17

Mt. Graham Wilderness Trails (AZ)



Soaring to nearly 11,000 feet, Mount Graham in the Pinaleo Mountains is the loftiest of Southeastern Arizonas sky islands, with unique plant species and abundant wildlife. A mountaintop lake stays icy cold even in the hottest months of summer. Snowy north slopes almost half the year. A short drive from Safford.
[ See their website ]   

18

Peloncillo Mountains Wilderness (AZ)



This 19,440 acre high-country wilderness is rich in archeological sites, including the more recent ruins of the Butterfield Stage Line.
[ See their website ]   

19

Pinaleo Mountains/Swift Trail Tour (AZ)



The ecological equivalent of driving from Mexico to Canada all in one leisurely afternoon on a sky-scraping, switch-backing mountain road. South of Safford.
[ See their website ]   

20

Red Rock Wildlife Area (NM)



Very remote wildlife viewing area on the Gila River, and a refuge for desert bighorn sheep. Bicyclers are allowed on some roads.
[ See their website ]   

21

San Francisco (Frisco) River (AZ)



An easy drive out of historic Clifton, AZ, with mountain vistas and two public river access points (theyre not marked so ask us). Easy floating after monsoon season with beautiful views and few if any people. Big Horn sheep may make an appearance.
[ See their website ]   

22

Sundial Hot Springs (NM)



Natural, sulphur-free, private hot springs in Bighorn Sheep country.
[ See their website ]   

23

The Carlisle Mine historical site (NM via AZ)



Now a ruin in the Steeple Rock foothills overlooking Duncan, the Carlisle Mine, opened in 1893, was a booming concern overseen for a time by a young Herbert Hoover. A favorite of historians and rockhounders, but well off the beaten track.
[ See their website ]   

24

Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway (NM)



Views of old volcanic mountain ranges and the wild, undammed Gila River, abundant wildlife including 337 species of birds, and the presence of seven of the eight distinct ecological zones.
[ See their website ]   

25

Village of Virden (NM)



Take the 26-mile loop from Duncan and back, or turn off and continue on into New Mexico. This is a hidden agricultural paradise along the Gila River. The ruins of the old Mexican settlement of San Antonio are there. There is excellent bird-watching at the Virden Bridge. Neldas Quilt Shop is open most afternoons. Buy fresh produce in season at a roadside stand. No public facilities.

26

White Mountains Scenic Byway (NM)



Travel through dense Ponderosa pine forests into Apache Tribal lands, with stunning views of Mount Baldy and the Mogollon Rim.
[ See their website ]