Safford: A great place to live, work and visit – and celebrate the holidays

Safford was founded in 1874, named after Anson P.K. Safford, who was Arizona’s territorial governor at the time, and had showed an interest in the area.
First incorporated as a town in 1901, Safford has since become a “great place to live, work and visit.”
It is a hub for outdoor activities, of which there are many.
One is Roper Lake State Park, located off U.S. Highway 191, five miles south of Safford. It offers a 32-acre lake with day-use sites, as well as campsites and cabins for a longer stay. The park has five miles of trails and paths for exercise and wildlife viewing, according to the Arizona State Parks website, azstateparks.com.
Three miles south of Roper is Dankworth Pond, which is fed by a live — and very warm — Artesian spring.
Another place with natural hot springs is the Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area, which was a lake with a beach about 2 million years ago. Today, in addition to the hot springs, the area offers opportunities for off-roading and camping.
About 20 miles south of Safford is the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area, along the Gila River. A popular spot, the recreational opportunities there are many, including rafting, canoeing, kayaking, picnicking and birdwatching, according to the Bureau of Land Management website, www.blm.gov.
At 640 acres, the Dry Lake Park Shooting Range, on Dry Lake Road, has plenty of room for trying out your marksmanship skills with ranges for archery, small pistol shooting and paintball. The park also offers many opportunities for hiking and camping.
The Eastern Arizona College Discovery Park Campus, 1651 W. Discovery Park Blvd., in Safford, is home to the Governor Aker Observatory, which offers, among other things, a research-grade 20-inch Cassegrain reflector telescope and a full-motion simulator taking visitors beyond Mt. Graham on a simulated voyage through the solar system.
Discovery Park also offers a riparian habitat called Nature’s Hideaway, according to the Eastern Arizona College website, www.eac.edu/discoverypark/.
As for Safford events, the holiday season kicks off with fall events, such as the annual Graham County Fair, taking place this year Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 11-14. The parade begins at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 12, on Safford’s Main Street.
Next up is the Harvest Festival, beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, on the lawn at City Hall, 717 W. Main St., in Safford. Sponsored by the City of Safford and the Safford Downtown Association, the festival will offer live entertainment and more than 60 vendors, as well as games and activities for the kids.
The annual Gila Valley Cowboy Poetry & Music gathering will take place beginning at 3:30 p.m. Saturday through Sunday, Oct. 24-25, at Discovery Park. There will be a Cowboy Devotional on Sunday, offering an inspirational message, music and song, as well as coffee, juice and donuts.
For information about the event, call 928-965-3377.
The Potter’s House will sponsor its Fall Festival, which offers games, food, a band and bouncy houses for the kids. The fun begins at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 31, on Main Street near The Potter’s House, in Safford.
This year’s Merry Main Street and Tree Lighting begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23, on Main Street and the lawn at City Hall, in Safford. Sponsored by the Safford Downtown Association, the annual event offers the tree lighting, games and crafts for kids on Main Street, a treasure hunt, open shops, food vendors and kid’s karaoke, as well as a visit from the Jolly Old Elf himself.
Then it’s the annual Holiday Light Parade, beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, but before that are the food vendors and Santa on Safford’s Main Street at 4 p.m., as well as entertainment on Fifth and Main Street at 5 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Safford Downtown Association.
The City of Safford website is at www.cityofsafford.us and the Graham County Chamber of Commerce website, www.graham-chamber.com.