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Fodor's Arizona & the Grand Canyon 2014
Coronado Trail Review
Surely one of the world's curviest roads, the twisting Coronado Trail portion of U.S. 191 was referred to as the Devil's Highway in its prior incarnation as U.S. 666. The route parallels the one allegedly followed more than 450 years ago by Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado on his search for the legendary Seven Cities of Cibola, where he'd heard that the streets were paved with gold and jewels.
This 123-mile stretch of highway is renowned for the transitions of its spectacular scenery over a dramatic 5,000-foot elevation change—from rolling meadows to spruce- and ponderosa pine-covered mountains, down into the Sonoran Desert's piñon pine, grassland savannas, juniper stands, and cacti. A trip down the Coronado Trail crosses through the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, as well as the Fort Apache and San Carlos Apache Indian reservations.
Pause at Blue Vista, perched on the edge of the Mogollon Rim, about 30 miles outside Alpine, to take in views of the Blue Range Mountains to the east and the succession of tiered valleys dropping some 4,000 feet back down into the Sonoran Desert. Still above the rim, this is one of your last opportunities to enjoy the blue spruce, ponderosa pine, and high-country mountain meadows.
About 17 miles south of Blue Vista, the Coronado Trail continues to twist and turn, eventually crossing under 8,786-foot Rose Peak. Named for the wild roses growing on its mountainside, Rose Peak is also home to a fire lookout tower from which peaks more than 100 miles away can be seen on a clear day. This is a great picnic-lunch stop.
After Rose Peak, enjoy the remaining scenery some 70 more miles until you reach the less scenic towns of Clifton and Morenci, homes to a massive copper mine. U.S. 191 then swings back west, links up with U.S. 70, and provides a fairly straight shot to Globe.
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