Safford, located in Graham County, on the eastern border of the state has a population of 10,129. Despite its small population, there is no shortage of things to see and do.
Safford was founded by Joshua Eaton Bailey, Hiram Kennedy, and Edward Tuttle, who hailed from Gila Bend, in southwestern Arizona. They left Gila Bend in the winter of 1873-74 because their work on canals and dams had been destroyed by high water the previous summer. Upon arrival early in 1874, they laid out the town site, including a few crude buildings. The town is named after Arizona Territorial Governor Anson P. K. Safford. The Town of Safford was incorporated October 10, 1901 and changed to City of Safford in 1955.
Safford gets approximately 10 inches of rain per year and approximately one inch of snow. On average, there are 279 sunny days per year in Safford. June is the hottest month with an average high temperature of 98.8 degrees, which is about average compared to other places in Arizona. The most comfortable months are March, April, and October which boast high temperatures in the range of 70 to 85 degrees.
Dress in layers, pack water, a wide-brim hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
Lodging & Dining
Whether you prefer roughing it or cozy accommodations, there are plenty of places to stay.
Roper Lake Cabins has eight cabins that line the lake at Roper Lake State Park. The cabins are furnished with bunk beds including mattresses and/or full-size beds with mattresses. The cabins have electricity and air conditioning/heating.
Cottage Bed & Breakfast, the “Historic Olney House” built in 1890 is an adorable and cozy one-bedroom guest cottage. If you are looking for a quiet getaway in Safford, check out this venue. Off-street parking, open courtyard and an on-site Bakery are available.
Enjoy natural hot spring pools at the Essence of Tranquility. This rustic resort with a relaxing atmosphere offers tent camping, lodge rooms, and casitas cabins for rent. Book a massage and other bodywork treatments during your stay.
There are six soaking tubs full of natural hot mineral water. Five of them are private, and clothing-optional when the doors are closed. One is a communal hot springs pool that requires bathing suits.
The hot springs temperatures can range from 98 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Fees are required for entry, which can be up to one hour or all day. It’s open seven days a week. The waters flow continuously in and out of the tubs, and it’s not recycled or filtered, always clean. Each tub has separate plumbing.
When you get hungry, visit Casa Manana, a Mexican, Southwestern and vegetarian-friendly restaurant that was started in a tiny kitchen in the back of a home in 1951. The popularity grew and the owner moved their home next door and converted the home to accommodate a bigger kitchen and dining area. This restaurant is a favorite for the Safford community.
Things To Do
There is so much to explore in this area. There are a variety of bird species, great fishing, and a lake located close to one of Arizona’s most beautiful mountain ranges known as a “sky island.”
Due to Safford’s relatively isolated dark skies, the area has been chosen as a prime spot for hosting observatories. Safford and Thatcher’s streetlights are low output to improve the quality of the images taken by the observatories located on Mount Graham which is located southwest of the city. Mount Graham is home to the Mount Graham International Observatory (MGIO) and Large Binocular Telescope, or LBT. When completed, it will be the largest binocular telescope in the world. The mountain also is home to the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, or VATT. It is also home to the Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope, or SMT.
Roper Lake State Park is located five miles south of Safford. The land for the park was formerly a ranch. The land was purchased by the state in 1972 in order to construct a reservoir. Roper Lake has great fishing of large-mouth bass and rainbow trout. It offers a stocked lake, boat ramp and swimming beach, plus cabins, a picnic area and hot spring. Enjoy five miles of nature trails that wind through desert landscapes which offer amazing mountain views. You can also take a three-mile hike or walk to Dankworth Pond, which offers a picnic site and recreated American Indian village. As of February 2022, the Roper Lake Hot Tub is closed.
Angle Apple Orchard invites the public to enjoy peach and apple blossoms in the springtime. The pink and white blossoms are beautiful, and the fragrance of the blossoms is wonderful. The legend of the orchard began with a logger who disposed of a peach pit near Ladybug Trail in the early 1900s. The pit grew into a fruit-bearing tree and withstood the frigid mountain winters to produce a sweet, delectable peach.
Dry Lake Park, north of the Gila River near Safford Regional Airport, consists of an archery course, paintball course, radio-controlled model airplane landing strip, rifle range, small arms/pistol range, and a trap and skeet shooting range.
- Safford is one of the settings for the 1985 Albert Brooks comedy Lost in America.
- Safford is the setting for the Jim W. Coleman book, Omens.
- Arizona State Parks