As an AZ “Localist”, I have found many treasures hidden in the depths of Arizona’s rural communities; and my most recent adventure in Arizona’s Copper Corridor did not disappoint. Carved out just below Arizona’s horizontal divide, the Copper Corridor encompasses a series of small towns unified by a history rich in mining along with a desire to evolve. Our journey would take us through Superior, Kearny, Hayden, Winkelman, Mammoth, Oracle, looping up through Globe and back in to Superior.
We arrived in Superior and decided to follow a few small, mysterious signs that pointed to the historic downtown area and promised an “EVENT.” As we pulled onto the main drag through downtown, our eyes were pulled immediately from the cute antique shops and cafes to the breathtaking backdrop of rocky terrain that frames the town. Although quiet and quaint, downtown Superior seems to buzz with promise and potential. The event that we happened upon was their annual Prickly Pear Festival, where we were greeted with the scent of smoked pork wafting from the grouping of food trucks and were able to cool off with a frosty and freshly concocted Prickly Pear margarita.
Kearny, Hayden & Winkelman
As we departed Superior, we found ourselves on a scenic drive that began with one of the few 10% declines in in the state; a stretch of road the locals fondly refer to as The Divide. We passed by the Ray Mine and had to stop to take a picture of its magnificence. In an area defined by its history in mining, the mountains of tailings left behind embody the magnitude of sweat and tears that have been poured into the heart of Arizona’s Copper core. The towns of Kearny, Hayden and Winkelman each uphold their own unique personalities and hold fast as communities built on grit and gratitude. There is not a single stop along the way that you would make and not feel welcome. The trailheads provide a multitude of recreational activities for anyone on two wheels, four wheels, or four hooves.
By the time we pulled in to Mammoth, we were ready to try a little Mexican Cuisine. Locals from all of the Corridor’s surrounding communities congregate in Mammoth for an authentic meal with friends from all over the region. This was also about the time I realized that this journey on the back of a motorcycle would be absolutely amazing! The roads are practically empty and the scenery is truly breathtaking. Stopping in a place like Mammoth to wet your whistle as you approach Oracle would be the perfect plan for a day on the back of a bike.
With Mount Lemmon nearby and the metropolis of Tucson off in the distance, Oracle holds its own; with a small but mighty population of just over 4000. Oracle is a town where everyone contributes; and not just a little but in a big way. From art to food, and music to soul the people of Oracle have created a secret getaway that is SO worth the trip. We were lucky enough to be invited to stay at the Triangle L Ranch where a 10-acre art experience is a must-see attraction... at night. With pathways illuminated by twinkle lights and the moon, each exhibit has been created by an artist (and friend) nearby. Every year, starting in September, the Triangle L Ranch puts on an event called Glow that takes this unique exhibit up about 10 notches. With live music and other attractions, Glow is something you won’t want to miss. And although our experience included cleaning wine bottles in a disposable pool full of bubbles for an upcoming exhibit while we drank beer and listened to the locals share their stories, I’m sure I can’t even begin to promise you what you may expect from your Oracle adventure. Come with an open mind and you will absolutely find inspiration and relaxation.
As we circled back up the Corridor into Globe, we stopped downtown to observe some of the most historic (and haunted - we’re positive) buildings in AZ. The 1910 Jail sits stoically in between the old Courthouse (now the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts) and a beautifully renovated church. The train tracks nearby add to the nostalgia, but the Sushi and Mexican restaurants and cafes that line the downtown drag bring you back to a place full of energy on the verge of revitalization. We were able to walk around inside the Old Courthouse and to take in all of the featured local artists and were shown the courtroom which has been turned into an auditorium for local theater groups. Globe is rich with Arizona’s history and is the perfect place to experience all that Arizona was and will forever be as we looped back towards Superior and the end of our journey.
Although we weren’t sure what we would find along the Copper Corridor, we will forever remember our weekend in this area of our great state. I don’t think anyone will have the same adventure twice along this stretch of road, but I do believe you will choose to do it more than once!