Springerville is a town in Apache County, Arizona, United States, within the White Mountains. Its postal ZIP code is 85938. With a population of less than 2,000 it’s full of the small town charm that’s so prevalent in this wild and mountainous part of Arizona.
Along with its neighbor Eagar, the communities make up the place known as Round Valley which is in the central-eastern part of Arizona close to the New Mexico border.
With an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet, it’s significantly higher than many of Colorado’s towns, and gets quite a bit of snow and wintery weather, which is a big surprise to some visitors not familiar with Arizona’s geography.
The town is famous as the place where Ike Clanton was shot and killed years after the incident at the O.K. Corral, of which he played a part.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Springerville, Arizona.
1. Madonna of the Trail
Part of a series of 12 monuments that were dedicated to the often untold stories of America’s pioneer women, the Madonna of the Trail statue in Springerville, Arizona is one of things to do in the area that you won’t want to miss.
The statues were commissioned by the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution and stretch all the way from rural Cumberland, Maryland to Upland, California.
The monuments are located in different states along the National Old Trails Road, which was a commonly used route for easterners moving to the west to start new lives.
2. Casa Malpais Archaeology Park and Museum
Conveniently situated in the Springerville Heritage Center, the Casa Malpais Museum houses an incredible collection of Native American artifacts including pottery, stone weapons, and tools and jewelry.
The items on display have actually been unearthed from the site, and there are plenty of informative signs that’ll give you the fascinating background of these items and how the Native Americans used them in their daily lives.
The museum is free, and open year-round except for major holidays.
It’s a great place to kick-off your Springerville adventure.
3. The Renee Cushman Art Collection Museum
The wonderful collection of items in the Renee Cushman Art Collection museum were donated by a town resident, whose stockpile of rare and priceless art was largely unknown at the time.
She passed away in 1969 after living in the area since the years just after World War II.
The museum and collection are now managed by the town of Springerville, and have been one of the area’s main draws for more than 40 years.
It’s located in the Springerville Heritage Center, is open 6 days a week, and is available for self-guided tours, so stop and check it out.
4. Butterfly Lodge
Built in 1914, the Butterfly Lodge was named after the large numbers of migratory butterflies that pass through the area at different times of the year.
The lodge did its time as a ranch house, hunting lodge, and home to the builder and his son who were an author and artist respectively.
The lodge is located in scenic Greer, Arizona, and became the small town’s first official museum when it was opened to the public for the first time in 1995.
It’s not open every day, and hours are seasonal, so make sure to check it out before you go.
5. Springerville Heritage Center
Located on East Main Street, just an easy walk from anywhere in town, the Springerville Heritage Center is home to museums, artifacts, and exhibits that will give visitors a unique and fascinating insight into the area’s remarkable history.
There’s an art gallery containing antique and contemporary pieces, and lots of cool knick-knacks of Americana that are becoming increasingly scarce.
Many of the Native American artifacts are from the Casa Malpais Ruins that have been excavated by archaeologists working for the city and state.
The staff are knowledgeable and friendly and will be glad to show you around and answer your questions.
6. Little House Museum
Located close to the town of Eagar, the Little House Museum is easy to get to from Springerville and is another unique site highlighting the pioneer and settler tradition so prevalent in this part of Arizona.
It’s tucked into a canyon near the Little Colorado River, and sports an amazing array of photos, artifacts, and memorabilia that hark back to an age when Arizona was a harsh and unforgiving place considered the wild frontier.
The museum is a few miles off Arizona Highway 260, and is marked clearly so you won’t have any trouble finding it.
7. Round Valley Ensphere Dome
If like me you’re not familiar with the term ‘ensphere dome’ then sit tight, because you’re about to learn something new.
Created largely from wood, the Round Valley Ensphere Dome is a massive structure that’s owned by the local school district and is home to the nation’s only domed high school football field.
It’s located in Eagar, cost $12 million to build, and opened in 1992 after some legal-wrangling over who was going to pay for it.
Since then its nearly 200,000 square feet of space have been put to good use by the town and school board.
It’s just off the highway and is free to visit.
8. Coronado Trail Scenic Byway
The Coronado Trail Scenic Byway runs from Morenci to Springerville and offers some of the most scenic vistas of the area which includes mountains and high-country, or chaparral which is prevalent in Arizona’s higher elevations.
The byway leads through Native American reservations, large tracts of national forest and by Mount Baldy which towers nearly 12,000 feet over the ground below.
If you’re a fisherman, consider taking your rod and reel, as many of the area’s streams and rivers contain trout, some of which are native and some of which are stocked by the state’s fisheries department.
Remember you’ll need a fishing license before taking that first cast.
9. Saffel Canyon Trail
The owners of off-road vehicles often get a bad reputation for tearing up land and creating noise in places that many outdoorsmen and nature lovers go for peace and solitude.
Saffel Canyon Trail has been set aside for truck enthusiasts who have a limited number of places to enjoy their hobbies.
The trail is located in some amazingly beautiful Ponderosa forests in Arizona’s rim country.
There are trails for every level of experience and vehicle type, so if it’s all new to you this would be a great place to ease into this exciting pastime.
10. Sunrise Park Resort
Arizona’s White Mountains are ground-zero for the state’s winter weather and sports lovers.
It may be surprising, but Arizona does have ski resorts, and Sunrise Park receives an amazing amount of annual snowfall due to its elevation, which is higher than the city of Denver, Colorado.
Whether you’re a skier or snowboarder, there are trails for you that range from beginner to expert.
The resort features all the amenities you’d expect like a hotel and restaurants, and if you come in non-winter months you’ll be able to hike, bike, fish and zip-line across a canyon or two.
The winter weather makes the area’s roads treacherous, so be careful when driving. Source: Sunrise Park Resort / Facebook
11. Trail Riding Adventures at Hannagan Meadow Lodge
Though much of the White Mountains are relatively inaccessible during the harsh winters, in the summer, spring, and fall the weather is perfect.
The Hannagan Meadow Lodge is located in Alpine, Arizona’s high-country and is close to Eagar and Springerville.
A guided horseback ride through the pine forests and mountain trails will be one of the things you do on your Springerville trip that won’t be forgotten, and you’ll likely feel like you’ve been teleported a century or so back in time.
The lodge and trail tours fill up fast in peak season, so consider booking online before you go. Source: Hannagan Meadow Lodge / Facebook
12. Escudilla Wilderness Trail
Located in the town of Alpine close to Springerville, large portions of the forest surrounding the Escudilla Wilderness trail were destroyed by the infamous Wallow Fire that swept through the area in 2011 burning thousands of acres.
The trail will lead you past Escudilla Mountain which is one of Arizona’s highest at just shy of 12,000 feet.
The surrounding wilderness area is comprised of more than 5,000 acres, and with all that land it’s easy to get lost, so be aware of the trail markers and don’t venture into areas that aren’t marked or look like they may be treacherous.
13. White Mountain Dinosaur Exploration Center
The White Mountain Dinosaur Exploration Center was founded by a paleontologist and his family who had an insatiable love for the amazing dinosaurs that inhabited this part of the world for millions of years.
During its original excavation, 4 new species of dinosaur were discovered that were unique to the White Mountain region of northern Arizona.
The museum isn’t open every day, and their schedule is subject to change, so it’s best to check before you go.
There are plenty of exhibits and activities for the little ones, and the admission is very inexpensive, making it one of those things to do in Springerville that you won’t want to miss. Source: White Mountain Dinosaur Exploration Center / Facebook
14. Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area
Located in the at the foot of majestic Escudilla Mountain, Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area is full of trails that lead through an amazingly diverse array of plant and animal habitats.
A trip to the park’s visitor’s center is a good idea before you head out. The staff will give you the lay of the land, and point out areas of special interest that you’ll definitely want to see.
The wildlife area is free to visit, but closes for the season in October when the weather can be harsh and unpredictable.
On some of the trails you’re more likely to see animals than others, so ask at the visitor’s center, and remember, most animals are more active in the morning and late afternoon, so plan accordingly. Source: The Ranch at Southfork / Facebook