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Black Hills Back Country Byway
7 Photosets

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mini location map2012-07-11
28 by photographer avataroutdoor_lover
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Black Hills Back Country BywayTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Scenic Drive21.00 Miles 1,800 AEG
Scenic Drive21.00 Miles   2 Hrs   30 Mns   8.40 mph
1,800 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked   none no linked trail guides
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SkyIslander18
After filling my pocket full of rocks at the Black Hills Rockhound Area, Chad and I took the Scenic Route towards Clifton/Morenci, using the Black Hills Back Country Byway. This is the original dirt highway between Safford and Clifton, built between 1914 and 1920 by local prisoners. It's a very historical route with several points of interest.

Our first stop was at an old Pumice Mine. We hiked off the road, exploring the Mine area for a bit and then proceeded down the Byway to a Cinder Mine. After exploring that area for a bit, we hit an awesome overlook with incredible vistas. We had some clouds today, so the Photo Ops seemed endless...

After enjoying and photographing the panoramic views at the Overlook, we continued on down the road and enjoying more historical areas and some nice views of Guthrie Peak. We eventually got to a Phelps Dodge Exhibit about the Morenci Copper Mine, that can be seen in the distance, from the exhibit. We stopped there for a bit, reading about the Mine, as we would be driving right through it after leaving the Byway, on our way to our Hike.

After leaving the Copper Mine Exhibit area, we continued on, stopping at the ruins of an old Prisoner Camp for some Photo Ops, before arriving at the Old Safford Bridge. The Bridge was built entirely of concrete in 1918 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. We stopped here for awhile both enjoying the views of the Bridge and the Gila River below.

After leaving the Bridge, we continued on, enjoying other historical sights before finally arriving at the end of the Byway, and turning onto Highway 191. We drove through Clifton and Morenci and literally, the Highway takes you right through almost the middle of the Morenci Mine. We were passing under machinery, and through the Canyons created during the Open Pit Mining Process.

I'm going to elaborate a little here, so be patient... I'm not a big fan of Open Pit Mining, but I understand it's part of our economy and it is what it is. When I was in grade school we had a field trip to one of the Mines in Superior and for a grade schooler, it was impressively big, including the equipment that is used, especially the trucks. Their tires were 4 times the height of an adult. But, I have never thought I would be excited about seeing another Open Pit Mine. Let me tell you, if you're in the area, you should drive this...It is frickin' amazing...I can't begin to describe the enormity and views that you get of this Mine...According to my Tour Guide, this Mine is the Largest Open Pit Copper Mine in the World and I believe him....Holy Cow!!! From what I remember of the Superior Mine, it was just a big hole with a bunch of terracing. This Mine, wow! The colors brought out of the rock and the terraces is amAZing!!

After continuing up the road past the Mine, we drove up to our Hike. (Separate Triplog). This drive with the Rockhounding took about half the day, but it was well worth it and I'm really glad we did it. The whole thing is something to see and I'd do it again in a heartbeat...Thanks for showing me a part of Arizona where I have never been, Chad!! It's a winner!!! :y:
 Named place
 Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Morenci Open Pit
_____________________
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming, "Wow What a Ride!"
 
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