Goodbye Texas, Hello Arizona. January 23-24th

Goodbye Texas, Hello Arizona. January 23-24th

The drive from Texas into Arizona took just one weekend but was comprised of some incredibly different experiences. Out first stop on the way into the town of Clifton was to check out Gillard Hot Springs. Apparently, the springs had been the site of a resort in the early 1900’s. It is uncertain how people actually got to the springs then, because even now, it is incredibly remote. After several miles of rough Forest Service roads that had us pretty nervous, (even with four-wheel drive) we came to a wash that appeared to be similar to the ones described by other avid adventurist bloggers.  We hiked down toward the banks of the Gila River, and thankfully, recognized landmarks as described by those before us. The river itself was shallow, but clear, with areas of steaming seeps coming out from the banks. We knew to be careful, as these seeps are verified to be at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit as they enter the river! Makeshift pools had been created to mix the fresh cold river water and scalding seeps. We would have been entirely self-congratulatory on finding this hidden gem based on just internet descriptions. But truth be told, our GPS helped guide us the entire time. If you are in the area in a four-wheel-drive…check it out!

We got into to Clifton in the evening and were pleasantly surprised by the quaint Clifton Hotel. We met Matt and Karen, a really brave couple who visited from Ohio and fell in love with this historic building. They were painstakingly remodeling it, largely on their own. We were amazed to see what they had accomplished and thoroughly enjoyed touring the small downtown. Though the quaint historic buildings were mostly empty, it was easy to see the potential. Clifton is a mining town with houses built into the cliffs overlooking the San Francisco River. The Morenci copper mine is still operational and created some impressive terracing within the vistas on the way out of town. We would not be surprised to see Clifton as an up-and-coming destination town in the future. Clifton even has hot springs that were once a resort and could be again. 

The travels continued with an overnight stop in the resort town of Pinetop-Lakeside. The actual trip to Pinetop was beautiful and most of it traveled on a remote, high, twisting windy stretch of road known for beautiful views and dangerous conditions. Highway 191 lead us up into a part of Arizona that is at much higher elevation. It was snowing in Pinetop and made us feel like we had been instantly transported to Colorado. We stayed one night in Pinetop and descended back into the desert on the way to Flagstaff. Along the way, we saw petrified wood, Historic Route 66, and the famous Wigwam Motel from the movie Cars

Since everyone loves the Eagles, including us, we made a fun stop for lunch in Winslow, AZ. We got to actually “stand on the corner” next to statues of Jackson Browne and Glen Frye. We had a fantastic lunch at the local RelicRoad brewery and set off for Flagstaff, with the lyrics to “Take it Easy” stuck in our minds for days!

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