Clifton offers an unbeatable combination of thrilling history, a remarkably well-preserved turn-of-the-century downtown and opportunities for outdoor adventure — real adventure — that have all but disappeared from most of southern Arizona. It's an up-and-coming off-the-beaten path mecca for hikers, backpackers, birders, bikers and refugees from the heat of the valley looking for a cool place to explore a historic, culturally diverse Arizona mountain town.
The historic mining town of Clifton is the backdrop for the Seventh Annual Colors of Copper Art and Wine Festival. Talented artists from Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado will gather at the Galleria Coronado to display their works in a juried exhibition. Arizona's winemakers join in the festivities with a presentation of their finest wines. Sip and browse at your leisure! There is no charge for admission.
Chase Creek Street is graced with lovely Victorian-era buildings from the town's halcyon days as western mining boomtown. Start your tour at Greenlee Historical Museum, where you can learn more about Clifton's thrilling history. The museum has an impressive collection of Indian artifacts as well as turn-of-the-century clothing, housewares, old photographs and a 1915 geological relief model of the area that shows the location of the old Morenci and Metcalf, now long since buried by the Freeport-McMoran copper mine.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Territorial-style Union Hall was built in 1916 and is home to a famous mural commemorating 1983-1986 United Steelworkers strike. Executed in dazzling color, the mural measures 40 feet wide by 10 feet tall.
Stroll historic Chase Creek Street, visit the famous Union Hall and sample some of Arizona's finest wines while you peruse the work of Southwestern artists and cast your vote for the "People's Choice" Award!
In Clifton, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep are backyard wildlife! Don't be surprised to encounter them grazing at the city park, peering down at you from the cliff behind Chase Creek Street, or crossing Route 191. The sheep are believed to have migrated from the Mogollon Rim to the Clifton area in the 1960s, following the San Francisco River. Today there are so many sheep in the area that Arizona Game and Fish has been capturing and relocating some of them to establish new herds in historic habitat in eastern and central Arizona.
A National Scenic Byway, Route 191 north of Clifton is one of the most scenic sections of the former Route 666 aka "The Devil's Highway". Also known as the Coronado Trail, it is well-known to driving enthusiasts and always makes the "best driving road" lists in motoring magazines and blogs.
According to local legend, two local businessmen hired Margarito Varela, a stone cutter, to create an escape-proof jail by blasting a hole in a solid rock wall near the center of town. In the ultimate irony, Varela became the prison's first inmate!
Clifton's annual art and wine show celebrates copper's array of rich pigments and its importance to life by showcasing many artists who include its magic in their work. A collection of mixed mediums and artistic styles are sure to impress viewers every year!
Clifton is unique in southern Arizona because it's traversed by a major river that flows year 'round. The San Francisco River rises high in Arizona's White Mountains and flows right through town. Three other permanent streams — Chase Cree. Blue River and Eagle Creek — join with the San Francisco and pour into the Gila River just south of Clifton. The abundance of water creates unparalleled year 'round pportunities for outdoor recreation including fishing, hiking, birding and camping.
Clifton's most famous citizen was Teresa Urrea, the "Saint of Cabora", a folk header who became a hero to the indigenous peoples of Mexico. Forced into exile by the dictator Porfirio Diaz, she eventually settled in Clifton, Arizona, and died there in 1906. Teresa is believed to be buried in an unmarked grave in a Clifton Cemetery.
Enjoy an old-fashioned "block party" every second Saturday on Clifton's Historic Chase Creek Street. All summer long the street will be closed from 4:00 - 8:00 pm on the second Saturday of the month from Palicio Loop to the Greenlee County Historical Museum. Wander through the historic district and out some of the new home-based businesses — including several food vendors — and enjoy music provided by local musicians including "Papa Gene" Roland.