This is one of the best motorcycle rides in Arizona. Why? The scenery is gorgeous. You will gain over 5,000 feet in elevation while driving the most twisted road in Arizona. This winding road has more than 400 curves to hug. Devil’s Highway is US 191, Coronado Trail Scenic Byway formerly Route 666.
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Coronado Trail Scenic Byway Overview
The Scenic Byway is a curvy road that runs from southeastern Arizona north. It is between the towns of Clifton and Alpine.
Where to Stay
On the northern end of the route, you can stay in Alpine and on the southern end there are motels in Clifton.
If you’re looking to explore some of Arizona’s old west mining towns, Clifton is a cool piece of Arizona boom and bust history. Clifton, Arizona is in southeast Arizona about 50 miles from Safford or just under a four-hour drive from Phoenix.
It was once a lively copper mining town, but visiting Clifton now is like taking a step back in time. Chase Street was once a happening place, now the downtown looks all but abandoned.
If you like old buildings you will enjoy walking down this narrow street. Many of the doors on Chase Street are locked. I love old doors, especially colorful ones.
Things to See in Clifton
Just south of Chase Street is the town’s first jail, Clifton Cliff Jail. The jail was built in 1881 into the side of a solid granite cliff.
The jail is part of the town’s National Historic Register. You can walk inside to see the jail and while you are there you should just to see what it is like. There are a few stairs to walk down to the dirt jail cells below. Ironically, the man credited for building the jail was also the first person to spend the night there.
Next to the jail is a narrow-gauge steam engine. This engine is part of Arizona’s first steam powered railroad. It was built in 1897 and used at the mines until the early 1920’s.
Driving the Most Twisted Road in Arizona Coronado Trail Scenic Byway
The first time we drove US 191 we made home base in Clifton and made our way up to Alpine and then drove back the same route to Clifton.
The next time we stayed in Alpine drove down 180 through New Mexico turned onto Highway 78 and then turned right on Devil’s Highway back to Alpine. The route through New Mexico was very pretty.
If you take the New Mexico route fill your tank in Alpine and in Alma, New Mexico. Gas stations are far and few between. If you take the route from Clifton fill your tank in town.
Where 78 intersects with 75 and 191 is called Three-way. There is a small gas station. We didn’t realize at first that it was a working gas station, but it is.
Mining copper is still a big deal here. If you drive a few miles north to Morenci, you can see the Freeport-McMoRan Copper Mine. The mine runs 24/7. There is an area you can pull over to get a better view of the open pit mine and take photos if you like.
Morenci Mine is one of the largest copper mines in Arizona. Every year millions of pounds of copper are produced here. There are some great pull off areas where you can view this expansive mine.
The drive is a little over 100 miles, however because of all of the hairpin turns the drive takes about three hours one-way.
The second time we drove this route a storm was coming. The views were stunning.
The most popular overlook is the Blue Vista overlook.
On a clear day you have sweeping views. The drive will take you over 9,000 feet above sea level.
Snow in September is not unusual in this area. As we gained elevation, during our last ride here the temperature dropped quickly and we had to drive through a little snow right before Hannagan’s Meadow.
Coronado Trail: Hannagan’s Meadow
Hannagan’s Meadow Lodge is about 20 miles south of Alpine. You can stop here to grab a bite to eat if you want. Across the street from the lodge is a large meadow.