The Gila Valley is one rural community that truly just stands out from the rest. With breathtaking views of Mount Graham, historic cotton fields peppered throughout, and a sky that breathes peace into your soul; it is almost impossible not to feel an instant sense of belonging. Whether exploring the vast outdoor beauty, or chatting with locals at one of the many locally owned businesses, farms, ranches, and fields; this community stands as a staple. The Gila Valley bursts with a passion for supporting family and friends, and twinkles with a local charm that is felt throughout. There is always a strong willingness to transform and improve, bringing the community ever closer and ensuring resilience - each change making the community stronger than the last. Because of this dedication the towns and cities always feel revitalized and full of wonder. One can feel the unique sense of calm that makes you instantly present and the shared value locals have placed on making the community welcoming for families, couples, and individuals of all ages and walks of life. Visitors and newcomers are invited to Discover the Gila Valley to make the region a new favorite place to explore, and even a new community to call home.
How To Use
Use this interactive itinerary to build your trip! Each category recommends a number of stops to help you get the fullest experience during your visit. Simply hover over any photo for a brief description then click the circle to add a listing to your itinerary (click again to remove it). Once you've completed your itinerary, enter your email address and click submit to have it delivered straight to your inbox. Happy traveling!
Arts & Culture (Recommended up to 2)
The Gila Valley community embraces its art culture through theater, festivals, and education. Locals with a love for creation and expression are quick to share their passion through classes, workshops, and mentorships.
Join Graham County at the Fairgrounds as the best local bands battle for the annual title. Hosted by Kat Kountry 94.5, the picnic combines local music with delicious food and local vendors.
This community-supported center is owned and operated by the Safford Unified School District, It is known for its superb quality of sound and hosts a world-class team of architects, designers, and acousticians.
This is the place to go for all your beading, quilting, jewelry-making, and cake-decorating needs. The shop also features handcrafted jewelry made by local artisans, ceramics, and a revolving stock of beautiful antiques.
The Arizona Old Time Fiddlers Association hosts a fiddle contest annually on the second weekend in February. The group aims to preserve, promote, and perpetuate the art of old time fiddling. All ages are welcome!
This festival is a two-day celebration of local art, music, wine, and history that features live music throughout the day and a concert on certain nights. Wineries offer tastings of their latest vintages, while local vendors serve food.
This Gallery displays the artwork of participating members of the Art Guild of Eastern Arizona (AGEA). The gallery is free to the public Tuesday-Saturday from 10-4 pm. The "Family Friendly" art covers most media, and most work is for sale!
History, Heritage & Tradition (Recommended up to 4)
Safford's heritage is a culmination of its deeply-rooted in Native culture, vivacious Mexican influence, and agricultural lifestyle. Today, the community celebrates its tradition while simultaneously building on their initiatives to modernize old methods in a lense of economic and environmental innovation.
Housed in three historic buildings - Bank of Pima, Cluff Hall, and the Old Rexall Drug Store - the museum showcases the area’s rich history while preserving important artifacts.
The Safford mine is one of the most environmentally advanced copper mines ever built and one of the newest copper mines in North America. Visitors are welcome to enjoy an inside look at a working copper mine.
Mark your calendar and bring your friends and family for a variety of entertainment including music, dancing, magic, comedy, and more. Plan on a good, wholesome, family show—fun for all ages!
This event draws families from communities near and far to local fairgrounds. They feature a carnival, juried exhibits, and animal shows and auction, gymkhana, horse show, live entertainment, talent shows, and free games with cash prizes
Renowned archaeologists, Jack and Vera Mills, spent over 30 years conducting extensive excavations on archaeological sites in Southeastern Arizona and New Mexico. Their impressive collection is now on display, and free to the public!
Since 1992 Open Loop has been a leading innovator in hydraulic mining equipment. Now with 120 employees and 4 facilities, Open Loop is a leader in design, manufacturing, and servicing of equipment used in mining operations around the world.
Open Loop Energy
This solar energy equipment supplier manufactures products used worldwide, specializing in places where no utility power is available. Ranchers, farmers, and developing countries’ remote domestic water users employ their services.
Wine & Dine (Recommended up to 4)
Birthplace of Arizona’s Salsa Trail, The Gila Valley offers a wide variety of authentic restaurants to please Mexican food enthusiasts. Or if you prefer a hearty steak, they’ve also got some of the area’s best steakhouses and saloons.
The “Arizona Salsa Trail” is a collection of the best local restaurants and vendors around Safford. Made famous by their participation in the annual Salsa Festival, the Arizona Salsa Trail allows you to explore these flavors year-round
Looking for the best burger in town? Then Trailhead's is a must. Best known for their double bacon ghost pepper cheeseburger, they are the spot for pool, horseshoes, and picnic tables.
We will offer custom processing services for beef, hogs, sheep, and wild game. Also, we will offer pasture to plate fresh meat in our retail shop.
This landmark restaurant has been a family tradition of fine Mexican food since 1951. The Hoopes family now continues the tradition of legendary food delivered with a sense of warmth and hospitality you can only find at home.
Serving only Certified Angus Beef grilled over an Open Pit Mesquite Grill, Copper Steer Steakhouse is the destination for a hearty meal and great company.
This local bakery is adjacent to a bed and breakfast, making bread, homemade cinnamon and pecan rolls. They are located at the historic Olney House in the original summer kitchen located in the common courtyard.
Located in the historic Reynolds & Jeters Building, El Charro is the oldest continuously owned and operated restaurant in the Gila Valley. The interior was remodeled to be more modern, yet the history and culture still shine through. The house specialty is the Chalaca, fried masa shaped like a bowl, filled with beans and red or green Chile meat and topped with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. At El Charro, tradition is important. Chef Mary Lou Alva cooks the Mexican food dishes using Sonoran recipes and methods. Locals recommend a taste of Johnny’s Hot Jalapeno Salsa.
Their award-winning salsa was voted “Best on the AZ Salsa Trail.” This family restaurant’s name, El Coronado, or “the crowned,” implies that guests can eat like kings and queens when they come here to enjoy delicious Mexican dishes.
This family-owned “One-Stop-Shop '' offers charming home decor, Gourmet Foods, olive oils & balsamic vinegar, unique gifts, and kitchen tools. Their beautiful, turn-of-the-century building is filled with history and custom finishing.
Live music, delicious food, cold brews, all at the Valley’s favorite corner bar!
This unique restaurant serves authentic, healthy, and unique Hawaiian cuisine. They offer delicious house-made sauces that you can purchase. Save room for dessert and order your choice of fruity smoothies or cookies!
4 miles east of Safford in the old historic town of Solomon, this structure dates back over 100 years. Family-owned for over 34 years, they serve some of the best Mexican food around with original recipes prepared the “old-fashioned way”.
Two sisters opened Mechy’s 20 years ago with recipes their mother taught them growing up in Colonia Juarez, Mexico. Mechy’s has three generations of the Vasquez family cook with recipes that are made fresh daily from scratch.
Visitors, families, school classes, and community groups come here to learn, have fun, and serve others. Volunteers, including seniors, missionaries, and probationers help produce 25,000 pounds of vegetables annually for the food bank.
Our Neighbors’ Farm & Pantry
This two-day event attracts dozens of vendors who offer recipes based on generations of traditional cooking- using fresh, authentic ingredients. Guests also enjoy the annual car show, beer garden, live entertainment, and salsa challenge.
With food handmade from scratch and natural ingredients, guests have the option to dine in or use the drive-through window for great food on the go. They offer staples like tacos, including burros, flautas, chimichangas, and enchiladas.
Outdoor Sports & Recreation (Recommended up to 2)
Located between the mountains and the high desert plains, the area has the widest variety of animal and bird life of any area in the United States. Safford welcomes you to explore its state park, mountain peak, campgrounds, and their state of the art observatory.
Before highways and railways, before pioneers, the land we know as the United States was truly a vast wilderness. To protect these last remaining areas, Congress created the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness. Aravaipa's outstanding scenery, desert fish and wildlife, rich history, and opportunities for primitive recreation will remain free from the influence of man.
This park is an educational and entertainment retreat with riparian habitat. They feature interactive displays and interpretive exhibits showcasing the area's geological diversity and important role in the field of astronomy.
Sharing a northeastern border with San Carlos Indian Reservation, this area is isolated and seldom visited. Rugged with grand vistas, the area contains Fishhooks and Canyons, all of which offer hiking among shady riparian vegetation.
Rugged terrain, diverse plant and animal species, old west history and solitude are available for lovers of wilderness here. These mountains rise over 3,700 feet above the Sulphur Springs and San Pedro Valleys in southeastern Arizona.
This area contains four waterways which promote the extensive riparian ecosystem with a diverse plant and animal community. The canyon includes patchy mesquite woodlands, mature cottonwoods, sandy beaches, and grand buff-colored cliffs.
The Gila Valley Hiking Club (GVHC) is a group of individuals of all ages and from all walks of life who share the personal enjoyment of hiking. Visitors are always welcome to hike.
Feel like a day at the beach? The sands were once a beach surrounding a lake approximately two million years ago. What remains today is one of the most unique recreation spots in Arizona
Known as "sky island," this 10,700 ft elevation is easily accessed by paved Swift Trail off Arizona Highway 366. Families, hikers, and day-trippers flock to the mountain to enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, and wildlife-viewing vistas.
Accredited scientists are on sight to guide you through an astrological experience. Enjoy the center’s weekend tours; featuring a trip up to scenic Mount Graham, lunch near the summit of the mountain; and a guided tour of the observatories.
The park comprises 150 acres of land surrounding a 15-acre pond, with five miles of scenic trails and paths that allow for a good stretch of the legs. Enjoy a self guided tour through the wildlife of this beautiful Arizona State Park.
Between Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness and the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation adjoining the North Santa Teresa Wilderness, access is difficult. This is a network of rugged mountains with bald summits, deep canyons, and sprawling mesas.