Nestled in the rugged terrain of eastern Arizona, Clifton stands as a testament to the state’s rich mining history. This small town, along with its twin community of Morenci, offers visitors a unique blend of cultural heritage, outdoor adventures, and a glimpse into the mining industry that has shaped the region for over a century. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the top things to do, accommodation options, and restaurants that make Clifton a fascinating destination in the heart of the Copper Corridor.
Top Things to Do in Clifton:
- Coronado Trail Scenic Byway: Begin your exploration of the area with a scenic drive along the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway. This winding highway takes you through the breathtaking landscapes of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, offering panoramic views of canyons, forests, and high mountain vistas.
- Morenci Mine Overlook: Gain insight into the region’s mining legacy with a visit to the Morenci Mine Overlook. This viewpoint provides a stunning panorama of one of the largest copper mines in North America. The massive terraced pit and mining operations offer a captivating sight.
- Chase Creek Historic District: Immerse yourself in Clifton’s history by exploring the Chase Creek Historic District. Wander through streets lined with well-preserved historic buildings, including the Clifton Cliff Jail, which dates back to 1881 and is one of the oldest standing structures in the town.
- Coronado Trail Heritage Trail: Discover the town’s past by following the Coronado Trail Heritage Trail. This self-guided walking tour takes you through Clifton’s historic district, highlighting key landmarks and sharing stories of its mining heritage.
- Greenlee County Historical Museum: Delve deeper into the area’s history at the Greenlee County Historical Museum. Located in Clifton, the museum showcases artifacts, photographs, and exhibits that document the cultural and industrial evolution of the region.
- Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest: For outdoor enthusiasts, the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest offers a myriad of recreational opportunities. Hike, fish, or simply revel in the serene beauty of the forested landscapes.
- San Francisco River: Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the San Francisco River, which flows near Clifton. This scenic waterway provides a peaceful setting for birdwatching and enjoying the natural surroundings.
- Historic US 666: Drive along the historic US 666, now renumbered as US 191, for a journey through the scenic landscapes and small communities that dot the route. Experience the charm of rural Arizona and the vast beauty of the region.
- Coronado Trail Art Gallery: Explore local art at the Coronado Trail Art Gallery, showcasing works by regional artists. The gallery often features paintings, sculptures, and crafts inspired by the landscapes and culture of eastern Arizona.
- Outdoor Adventures: Take advantage of the outdoor adventures available in the surrounding area, such as hiking, camping, and fishing. The diverse terrain offers opportunities to explore both the desert and mountain landscapes.
Clifton offers limited accommodation options, but nearby communities provide additional choices for travelers:
- Lodges and Motels: Lodges and motels in the nearby areas provide convenient accommodations for visitors exploring Clifton and the surrounding attractions. These options often cater to travelers seeking comfortable and budget-friendly stays.
- Vacation Rentals: Consider vacation rentals in the region for a more private and independent lodging experience. Rental homes and cabins may be available in the scenic surroundings, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area.
- RV Parks and Campgrounds: Nature enthusiasts can explore RV parks and campgrounds in the region, providing a chance to camp amid the stunning landscapes. Some locations may offer amenities such as hookups and facilities for a comfortable outdoor experience.
While Clifton may have fewer dining options than larger cities, it offers a taste of local flavors and hospitality. Here are some dining establishments to explore during your visit:
- Copper Steer Steakhouse: Indulge in a hearty meal at Copper Steer Steakhouse, known for its steaks, burgers, and southwestern-inspired dishes. The restaurant provides a relaxed atmosphere with a touch of rustic charm.
- Old Time Pizza: Enjoy a casual dining experience at Old Time Pizza, offering a variety of pizzas, sandwiches, and Italian dishes. This family-friendly spot is a local favorite for a quick and satisfying meal.
- Riverfront Bar & Grill: Experience riverside dining at Riverfront Bar & Grill, where you can enjoy American cuisine with a view of the San Francisco River. The menu features a mix of pub-style fare and classic dishes.
- Margarita’s Place: Savor Mexican cuisine at Margarita’s Place, a restaurant known for its flavorful dishes, including tacos, enchiladas, and traditional Mexican platters. The vibrant decor adds to the festive atmosphere.
- La Paloma Café: Delight in homestyle cooking at La Paloma Café, where you can enjoy breakfast and lunch options in a cozy setting. The menu includes Mexican and American classics.
- Subway: For a quick and familiar option, Subway offers a selection of sandwiches, salads, and wraps. It’s a convenient choice for a meal on the go.
- Los Hermanos Restaurant: Explore the flavors of Sonoran cuisine at Los Hermanos Restaurant, known for its Mexican dishes and welcoming ambiance. The restaurant often features local ingredients in its menu.
- Burger House: If you’re in the mood for classic American comfort food, Burger House serves up burgers, fries, and shakes in a casual setting. It’s a local spot for a quick and satisfying meal.
- Circle K: For convenience, Circle K provides a selection of grab-and-go options, snacks, and beverages. It’s a convenient stop for essentials and quick bites.
- Café Por Siempre: Start your day with a visit to Café Por Siempre, a local coffee shop where you can enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a light breakfast. The cozy atmosphere makes it a welcoming spot to begin your morning.
Clifton, Arizona, invites visitors to step back in time and explore the captivating landscapes and history that define this mining town. From the remnants of its mining heritage to the outdoor adventures awaiting in the surrounding natural beauty, Clifton offers a unique and off-the-beaten-path experience. While the town may be small, its charm lies in its authenticity and the opportunity to connect with the rugged spirit of eastern Arizona. Plan your visit to Clifton and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of culture, history, and outdoor exploration that defines this hidden gem in the Copper Corridor.
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