Superior is a town in Pinal County, Arizona, United States. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town is 2,837. Superior was founded as a mining town for the Silver Queen and the later Magma mines. Such films as U Turn by Oliver Stone, Eight Legged Freaks, How the West Was Won, Blind Justice, The Prophecy, Skinwalkers, The Gauntlet with Clint Eastwood, and Young Billy Young are set in Superior.
Located in the north-central portion of Arizona’s Pinal County, the town of Superior has a western pioneer history dating back to the 1800s.
Like many towns in the region, Superior largely owes its existence to the mining industry, which was an Arizona mainstay long before it even became a state.
Though silver was once the most sought-after metal, now copper is king.
With a population of less than 3,000, the town has remained small and true to its nature, though you may be surprised to learn that due to its remoteness and stunning geology, it’s been featured in many westerns and even some creepy sci-fi movies.
Below are things to do in Superior, Arizona.
1. Superior Historical Society: Bob Jones Museum
Located on West Main Street in historic downtown Superior, the Bob Jones Museum is Superior, Arizona’s premier destination to get an insight into the town’s history, heritage and economy.
The museum is in the former home of an Arizona governor, who led an interesting life and added so much to the town and state’s history.
The museum primarily focuses on Bob Jones’ life and his path to becoming Arizona’s governor, though there’s much about the area’s mining history and the western lore of the surrounding region too.
It’s only open a few days a week, so check before you go. Source: Town of Superior / Facebook
2. Annual Home Tour
Put on by the Superior Chamber of Commerce, the Annual Superior Home Tour has been going strong for 10 years. It provides a one-of-a-kind experience for locals and visitors, who just can’t get enough of the quaint town’s history, culture, and architecture.
You’ll see homes of every shape, size, and description – most of which have been lovingly restored and even a few that are surprisingly contemporary and fashionable.
You’ll also see some unique tidbits of western culture, like a print shop, jail, and a community center boasting an amazing antique collection.
It all starts with a pancake breakfast, so come hungry.
3. Mattie Earp’s Gravesite (Pinal Historic Cemetery)
Though rumor has it that Mattie and Wyatt were never officially married, she was his common-law wife.
It’s interesting that Mattie was known to have more than a few aliases, which makes her sad demise all the more interesting.
Mattie died in the town of Pinal, now little more than a ghost town in a faded memory.
Mattie struggled with opium addiction, fueled by her tumultuous and largely loveless relationship with Wyatt; according to her autopsy, her death in 1888 was a suicide.
The historic cemetery is a fascinating, creepy and free place to visit.
4. Hike the Picketpost Trail
Located off Highway 60 west of Superior, the Picketpost Trail isn’t for everyone due to its rugged nature.
If, however, you’re physically fit and intent on seeing Arizona’s beauty up-close, the reward for all that exertion will be well worth it.
From the parking area, keep an eye out for the signs letting you know where the trail starts, and make sure to stay on it.
There are Picketpost Summit and Picketpost Loop trails. At nearly four miles, the Summit trail is the most difficult but will give you the best views.
The Loop trail is better for families and those with dogs.
5. Boyce Thompson Arboretum
Just a stone’s throw from the Picketpost Mountains, Boyce Thompson Arboretum is Arizona’s premier destination to experience the amazing variety of flora that call this harsh landscape home.
It’s located on East Arboretum Way in Superior and sports lots of amazing non-native plants.
The admission fee is surprisingly cheap for all you’ll see.
The arboretum is beautiful year-round, but consider a trip in the spring if possible because that’s when many of the desert plants and cactus will be blooming.
You’ll also likely see some fascinating desert critters like coyotes, tortoises, snakes, and hummingbirds cross your path.
6. Legends of Superior (LOST) Trail Fest
Celebrating the wonders of Arizona’s amazing geology, the Legends of Superior Trail Fest is an annual event that provides a great excuse to get outside, burn a few calories, and learn about the majestic Tonto National Forest.
Guided hikes through nearby Arnett and Queen Creek canyons are available, and a great way to meet likeminded people and see some amazing scenery.
Tours of the historic town of Pinal are offered too, as are rock climbing lessons for those of all ages and abilities.
The event is sponsored by a non-profit organization, so donations are appreciated. Source: Legends of Superior Trails – Superior, Arizona / Facebook
7. Roger’s Canyon Cliff Dwellings
Arizona has a remarkable number of cliff dwelling sites that are fascinating places to get an idea of just how many of the Native American cultures in the area lived and survived.
Located between Globe and Phoenix, Roger’s Canyon Cliff Dwellings were built by the Salado culture who inhabited southern Arizona from the 12th to 15th centuries.
The dwelling contains nearly 70 elevated rooms and may have housed upwards of 100 people – according to archaeologists who’ve studied the site.
Though the site has been looted and damaged by nefarious artifact hunters over the years, it’s still the most well-preserved in the area.
8. Prickly Pear Festival
For those familiar with cacti, you’ll know that prickly pear is the kind with large, flat, paddle-shaped segments that can be green and purple – and are covered with lots of pointy spines.
But you may not have known that those scary looking desert denizens are edible.
Held in August for the last seven years, the Prickly Pear Festival is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and includes lots of other edible desert fare as well.
The fun includes a pageant, guided hikes, and a cooking competition to see who’s the most adept at turning the pointy plants into mouth-watering grub.
Lots of local restaurants and businesses participate, so get out there and support them. Source: Prickly Pear Festival / Facebook
9. Besh-Ba-Gowah Ruins
The Best-Ba-Gowah Archaeological Park highlights the amazing structures that the Salado people once called home nearly 700 years ago.
The ruins are located in Globe – just a quick drive from Superior – and are considered to be one of the most well-preserved and historically significant of their kind anywhere in the southwest.
The Salado people were thought to inhabit this area of Arizona for about 300 years between the 12th and 15th centuries.
Admission is inexpensive and you’ll get to see much of what the site has to offer from easy trails.
The museum has lots of interesting exhibits and artifacts, including tools, weapons, and clothing.
10. Cobre Valley Center for the Arts
Created in 1984, The Cobre Valley Center for the Arts is the area’s go-to place for art, exhibitions and live performances.
The center is located in the wonderfully-restored Gila County Courthouse, which no longer serves in that role.
With the help of local donations and countless hours of volunteer labor, the 100-year-old building is the perfect venue for all it has to offer.
With different exhibits and performers throughout the year, depending on when you’re there, you may see local talent on display or even regionally or nationally known artists and performers.
Check their website to see what’s on the calendar for when you’ll be in the Superior area. Source: Cobre Valley Center for the Arts / Facebook
11. World’s Smallest Museum
It seems like everywhere you go someone’s claiming to have the world’s smallest museum.
After a trip to Superior’s tiny museum though, you may be inclined to believe that its claims are legit.
The museum is conveniently located next to a popular restaurant, making it an important stop – even if your schedule is full.
It won’t take too long to see all the odd but interesting items and relics scattered around, and with a semi-optional admission fee of just a buck, you don’t have that much to lose.
The museum and restaurant are painted like matching barns so you can’t miss them. Source: Superior Arizona Chamber / Facebook
12. Superior Second Fridays
Located near the junction of Main Street and North Pinal Avenue in downtown Superior, the Second Fridays event is held the second Friday of the month from 6-9 PM.
It’s a great way to enjoy a bit of socializing and imbibing after a long week.
Lots of the town’s businesses offer special deals and even stay open later than normal to accommodate revelers; there’s often live music in the park too.
Even if you’re not staying in Superior, it’ll be worth the trip; it’s a great opportunity to meet some locals, who’ll probably be more than happy to tell you what to see and do in the area.
13. Apache Leap Mining Festival
Taking place over three days in March, the annual Apache Leap Mining Festival is a fun-filled tribute to the area’s rich mining heritage, dating back to the days when the mountains and canyons were home to solitary prospectors looking to strike it rich.
The mining industry has changed a bit since then, and you’ll get an amazing history of its evolution over the years.
The mining festival includes fun events like Chihuahua races, a beer garden, and lots of interactive activities designed with the little ones in mind.
There are also lots of local food, art, and craft vendors. Tickets are cheap and it’s a great way to have fun and support the local economy. Source: Town of Superior / Facebook
14. Pinal City Ruins
Like nearly all of Arizona, the Superior region is home to some eerie ghost towns that went bust.
Pinal City was just adjacent to what is now Superior. It was inhabited from the 1870s to 1890s, after which time its viability waned with the changing times.
Originally, the town was a fort for local soldiers stationed in the area to protect residents from hostile Native Americans. It became a mining center shortly thereafter when silver was found in the rock surrounding the town.
The town is a short drive from Superior and is free to visit, so get out there and check it out.
15. Bullion Plaza Cultural Center and Museum
Located in historic Miami, Arizona, the Bullion Plaza Cultural Center, and Museum are great places to get out of the sun, enjoy some air conditioning, and learn about the amazing state of Arizona.
The museum’s exhibits focus on the area’s culture, history, and wildlife.
The museum has many permanent exhibits but also hosts temporary exhibits throughout the year.
One particular area that the museum highlights is the importance of water in this harsh and dry climate, and how it can be sustainably managed to ensure there’s plenty for future generations.
Admission is inexpensive, and it’s a great place to take the kids for fun and learning. Source: Bullion Plaza Cultural Center & Museum / Facebook