Scenic USA - Arizona

Swift Trail Parkway

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Swift Trail Parkway - Graham County, Arizona

Photo by Ron McEwan
Inset photo courtesy of NOAO/AURA/NSF

     The Swift Trail Parkway, added to Arizona's long list of scenic byways in 1992, follows Route 366 out of Swift Trail Junction. Its 35 mile climb twists and turns over 7500 feet in elevation on the way toward Mount Graham. This birds-eye view captures a few of the byway's hairpin turns and a look at one of the half dozen life zones on the way up. Located in one section of the Coronado National Forest, this biological isolated region of the Pinaleno Mountains provides a collection of highly adaptive plants and animals. Two of the most interesting standouts along the route include a stand of the oldest conifer trees in the Southwest, as well as the endangered Mt. Graham red squirrel. Located about a half hour from I-10's Exit 352, the byway leads to Riggs Lake and Riggs Flat Campground. Byway travelers may stop at Riggs Lake to enjoy a picnic lunch, fishing, hiking, backpacking, and plenty of scenic views.
     Part of the Chiricahua Apache homeland, Large Binocular Telescope - Mount Graham International Observatory, Arizona Mount Graham is considered sacred ground to Native Americans. Ranking as the largest and most extensive territory ever considered for addition to the National Register of Historic Places, Dzil Nchaa Si An is surrounded in controversy. Because of its clear night skies, the U.S. Congress made a rare exception, processing a waiver of American environmental law. Despite the outcries of Native Tribes and the Sierra Club, Mount Graham International Observatory received authorization for construction in 1988.

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