The Black Hills Back Country Byway is located between Safford and Clifton in southeastern Arizona, about three hours northeast of Tucson or 3 1/2 hours east of Phoenix. Both ends of the byway are accessed from U.S. Highway 191. The southern end is at milepost 139, the northern end at milepost 160.
AUTO TOURING, BIKING, HISTORIC & CULTURAL SITE, HIKING, OFF HIGHWAY VEHICLE, PICNICKING, WILDLIFE VIEWING
As you travel the 21-mile-long Black Hills Back Country Byway, try to imagine the first travelers on this road…rugged pioneers who lived close to land. Today, we can embrace the romance of the Old West as we travel this same route. Let the Black Hills Back Country Byway take you on a journey back in time to learn the lessons of these people and the riches from the earth they loved.
Many primitive side roads provide opportunities for off-highway vehicle driving, and a challenging ride for the experienced mountain bicycler. Rock collectors can visit the nearby Black Hills Rockhound Area, while interesting rock formations along the road can be studied and photographed. Hiking along side roads, trails, or cross-country can be rewarded with scenic vistas of the Gila Box or close-up views of the area’s plentiful wildlife. Camping and picnicking are permitted on public lands along the road, with several developed sites available. Midway on the byway, the Canyon Overlook Picnic Area provides shaded ramadas with a scenic vista of the Gila River canyon. Closer to the east end of the byway is the Owl Creek Campground with seven units perched on a cliff overlooking the historic Old Safford Bridge. The south end of the bridge is a popular launch site for those floating the Gila River and for fishing for catfish. The north end of the bridge has a small picnic area. Mule deer, javelina, and quail can be hunted on public lands along the byway.
The Black Hills Back Country Byway is unpaved, but is accessible to high clearance vehicles during dry weather. Portions of the byway have narrow drop-offs or are confined by steep cliffs. Do not attempt the byway if you have a travel trailer or any vehicle more than 20 feet long. Motor homes and trailers can be left at parking areas provided near kiosks at each end. Please take extra care to drive defensively on this route. Always expect a vehicle around the next bend and remember: mountain courtesy gives uphill traffic the right of way. If you choose to be more adventurous and travel some of the side routes, remember all of these single lane roads require a four-wheel-drive vehicle. These roads are not maintained and portions can be steep, rough, and rocky. Washes crossing these routes tend to make it difficult to tell where the road is at all times.