Swift Trail Parkway #366 Scenic Drive

Area Status: Closed

Mt. Graham ROG Page 1

You will experience the ecological equivalent of driving from Mexico to Canada all in one leisurely afternoon on this sky-scraping, switchbacking mountain road. The Swift Trail, named for T. T. Swift, the first supervisor of the Coronado National Forest, takes you from cactus-studded Sonoran desert at 2,900 feet in the Gila Valley to alpine meadows and forests on the 9,000’ high ridges of the Pinaleno Range. The mountain ranges of southeastern Arizona have come to be called Sky Islands because they are surrounded by desert and isolated from one another by seas of arid environment so different from the tall forests that grace their upper slopes. Of all the Sky Islands in southeastern Arizona, the Pinalenos are the highest and one of the most extensive. This trip starts in a desert landscape where cactus, yucca and mesquite are the prevalent plant species. The climb begins and the life zones start to change almost immediately. From low desert scrub, to oak grasslands, to pinyon-juniper woodlands and finally to forests of pine, spruce and fir, the road winds past breathtaking panoramas, lush forests, and picturesque mountain meadows. Several points of interest will vie for your attention along this historic route constructed during the Great Depression by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Among these, Heliograph Peak was a signal outpost during the wars of expansion of the late 1800&s. Hospital Flat, a wildflower-carpeted meadow, and Treasure Park, where legend has it that a fortune in gold and silver was buried by Mexican banditos, are accessible by short side trips. In addition to these points of interest, the road provides access to a number of hiking, horsebacking, and mountain biking trails, a mountain lake stocked with trout, and many campgrounds.

Swift Trail Drive Time: Allow around 5 hours for the round-trip drive and additional time for side trips.

Download the Mount Graham Visitor Guide 

Swift Trail winding Swift Trail with Rainbow Swift Trail rock wall

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Closed annually due to anticipated winter weather from Nov 14-April 15 at the Shannon Campground around 20 miles up the mountain.
Open Season: April 15 - November 14
Closest Towns: Safford, AZ
Information Center: Safford Ranger District (928)428-4150

General Information


From Safford, Arizona: Drive south from Safford on US 191. About 8 miles from the center of town turn southwest on AZ 366, the Swift Trail, and continue 35.2 miles to the end of the road.


From Tucson, Arizona: Take I-10 east for 90 miles. Take exit 352 for US 191, and turn left toward Safford. Drive 26.3 miles north and turn left on AZ 366/Swift Trail.


Interpretive Areas

At pullouts along the road you will find interpretive plaques.

Scenic Driving

Diverse scenery. Breathtaking vistas.Camping and picnicking. Hiking and horsebacking. Fishing and boating. Biking. Historic sites. Fall colors. Wildlife viewing. The entire road is open to vehicular use from April 15 thru November 14 snow permitting. Note....This winter closure period applies only to motorized vehicles. This seasonal closure occurs approximately one-half mile beyond the Shannon Campground. This route remains open to hikers, cross-country skiers, mountain bikes and other non-motorized users, so they may continue beyond the locked gate. Also, lower elevation sections may be used year-round, unless closed because of snow. Road Conditions: 21.85 miles of the route are paved, 13.35 miles are graded dirt. The Swift Trail is a winding road not recommended for vehicles over 26 feet long. It is closed 21.85 miles from its junction with U. S. 191 from November 15 to April 15. During this same period much of the road above Noon Creek is snow covered and slippery. Shady areas remain icy all winter long.

Pinaleno Mountains/Swift Trail Tour map

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
35.2 miles one way

  Elevation : 
2,900 feet - 9,300 feet