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The Coronado Trail is where conquistadors conquered and prospectors searched for gold in the old days. Today this seldom traveled road is a treasure all its own. The road is a designated National Scenic Byway and it's famous for having over 2,000 curves with the roadway ranging from 3,445 to 9,425 ft (1,055 to 2,873 m) in elevation. The route takes riders through the Apache National Forest from Clifton to Eagar, Arizona taking between 3 and 4 hours for 121 mi (194 km) of twisty heaven.
Start the motorcycle ride in Clifton, a mining town of 3,300 people located 170 mi (273.6 km) Northeast of Tucson, Arizona. Located just outside of Clifton in Morenci, an open pit Copper Mine can be seen as you ride along the Coronado. The roads on the Coronado Trail carve their way through the mountainous region and is made up of plenty of turns and hairpins sure to keep any rider grinning.
From Clifton go to Round Valley by riding your motorcycle on the Coronado Trail heading West for 8.6 mi (13.8 km) then go North for 112 mi (180.2 km). The roads here are twisty and go through mountainous terrain, an open pit copper mine and through the Apache National Forest.
Coronado was named after a famous Spanish explorer, who was seeking out the riches of the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola (City of Gold) on an expedition in 1540. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado started his search in what is now modern day Arizona. When he arrived he found farmlands and Native Americans, no city of gold as he'd wished for. He and his expedition continued to explore the area, being the first Europeans to set their eyes on the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. Learning that Cibola didn't exist, he followed up a lead from a native that there was a wealthy Civilization to the east called Quivira. After trekking through present day New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, he was again disappointed to find nothing but fields of corn. His expedition might have been a bust on the wealth side, but he did become the First European to reach the Southwestern part of the New World.
In 1981 a highway was built and named Coronado in honor of his expedition. Originally named Highway 666 or the Devil's Highway, it was renamed to Highway 191 during a highway realignment in 1992. The entire highway travels across the entire US from Mexico to the Canadian border. This route will concentrate on the section in Arizona nicknamed Coronado Trail.
Photo credit: sylviastuurman.nlÂ
Photo credit: motorcyclephilosophy.orgÂ
Arriving in Round Valley, the towns of Springerville and Eagar have a population of 6,000 people located 176 mi (283.2 km) Southeast of Flagstaff, Arizona. Springerville's claim to fame is Detective Jonas V. Brighton who shot Outlaw Cowboy Ike Clanton, who was present at the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, after he resisted arrest in 1887. There is also a U.S. National Historic Landmark located here called the Casa Malpais Site http://www.casamalpais.org , an archeological site where the native Indian tribes consider being a sacred ancestral place. For more information on what to see, where to eat and sleep in the Round Valley area see: www.springervilleaz.gov
Coronado may not have found his city of gold, but maybe you can find some golden roads. The Coronado Trail is filled with spectacular roads full of twisties, hairpins, switchbacks and elevation changes. The area is steeped in history and gorgeous mountainous scenery. This road is definitely worth a look or two or three! Enjoy the ride. Eat Sleep RIDE.